Japanese Tsunami Debris Washes Up On Canadian Beach

If there’s one thing the ocean doesn’t need, it’s any more litter. Tons of trash, mostly in the form of single-use plastics, has been swirling around in the Great Pacific Garbage patch for years. Instead of being recycled, these plastic bottles, bags, and other “disposables” end up on the streets only to eventually be washed into the sea.

Sometimes, however, catastrophic events can send a mountain of debris into the ocean at once. Events like an unexpected tsunami, for instance.

In early April, Care2 reported on scientists’ fear that the Japanese tsunami washed 1.5 million tons of debris into the ocean in less than 24 hours. Researchers say the debris was initially carried by the potent Kuroshio Current, which whips past eastern Japan much like the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic. The Kuroshio carries surface waters northeast, before eventually turning east in the Kuroshio Extension and then the North Pacific Current.

They predicted that debris from the tsunami would reach the West Coast of North America within a year, but it seems that some of it may have arrived far ahead of schedule.

A beachcomber discovered a Harley Davidson motorcycle (stuck in a shipping container) just below the high tide mark on an isolated beach on Graham Island, British Columbia.

The bike was rusty, particularly on the wheels and handlebars, but the logo on the fuel tank was unmistakable. ”First I thought, this has got to be the craziest thing anyone has ever found,” said Peter Mark. ”Then I looked a little closer and the licence had Japanese writing on it. The wall of the trailer had Japanese print on the tags. And the first thing that popped into my head was this is likely from the Tsunami in Japan.”

Markings on the container and license plate show that the motorcycle, as well as the golf clubs, tools, and camping equipment, likely originated in Miyagi Prefecture, the worst hit part of Japan, with more than 11,000 people dead and missing.

Related Reading:

10 Most Common Types Of Ocean Trash

Clean The Ocean, Green The Economy, UN Urges

Ocean Acidification Causes Baby Coral To Make Bad Choices

Image via Thinkstock


Huber F.
Huber F5 years ago


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

it was a very sad happening, and yes, sadly litter is part of the crisis. So people, lets raise some money and get some people out there to clean this up!

Doreen Agostino
Past Member 5 years ago


President of USA: Urgent Request For UN Intervention to Stabilize the Fukushima Reactor Unit 4 http://change.org/petitions/the-president-of-the-united-states-urgent-request-on-un-intervention-to-stabilize-the-fukushima-reactor-unit-4

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener5 years ago

Scary, corpses too?

JOEL T5 years ago

Ok we have debris washing up.
Question(s) ;

(1) Now can anyone go clean it up or due to the bio hazard created by
the dead, the oil etc is it going to require special hazardous materials handling ?

(2) What has this, for lack of a better term (sloshing) effect done to the plastic patch
in the Pacific ? ( Is some of it going to come ashore too.)

We have a mess, how are We the caretakers of this place going to fix it ?

Edo F.
Edo F5 years ago

@ the People who say that this is Japan's problem are absolutely off the mark. The cost and expense both monetary and hands on work it has already put them through in their own country is more than any nation should bare. Did Indonesia pull out their pennies when the tsunami a few years back hit the shores of Bangladesh and Madagascar?!! Grow a brain people, and have some sympathy. And don't bring up the whole "karma for cruelty against animals" BS, yeh, I don't like it either, but neither do most of the people living in these countries. They are government initiated and funded, they're the ones you should be angry at.

Stephen B.
Stephen B5 years ago

@ Past Member (4:13 PDT): Radioactive waste WAS released from the nuclear plant, but that didn't occur until days after the tsunamis (when reactor cores overheated). The waste currently washing up on American beaches was carried out to sea before that happened.

@Everyone complaining that Japan should be held responsible for cleaning up the mess:
This was caused by a natural disaster that wiped out entire cities. When (not "if") this happens in the Pacific NW, the plastic and aluminum containers in recycle bins will be washed away with those in garbage cans and landfills. Japan IS responsible for the failure of the nuclear plants. Quakes approaching this magnitude are common along the fault where this occurred. The garbage would have ended up in the ocean regardless of what they did (short of not producing anything developed after the 19th century).

Mary B.
Mary B5 years ago

Kye J.........I didn't realize you couldn't see my profile......I have changed who can view.....I am a very private person, so I don't share my whole life with the world........

I am so glad you live in a country where no harm is done to person, place or thing (especially animals).....I'm also glad that any natural disaster will not hit your country.......Therefore, you have every right to be angry at any other country where such things happen....

I, personally, am glad you have made the decision not to visit Canada again. Seems we have enough to worry about with all the animal slaughter in our "sewer pit". Thank you.

Kye J.
michelle m5 years ago

"Mary B", you obviously are not an animal advocate.
I note that you hide your profile and yet you complain about the "person" who posted at 3:48 with no name and no photo.Whats the difference? Your the same!
I have travelled to Canada for 14 consequtive years but NEVER AGAIN as I advised, Japan and Canada are the bottom of the barrel sewer pits for their disgraceful murdering of animals.Many peolple are also boycotting these destinations.The tsunami debris is all about karma.
Why aren't there any photographs of dead animals, just rubbish? Many animals were killed and yet this article doesn't even mention these as the person 3:48 has correctly stated?

Beth Buczynski
Beth Buczynski5 years ago

To be clear: the picture included at the top of this post is a stock photo. Here's the link if you want to see the pictures Peter Mark took of the debris: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/04/29/bc-tsunami-debris-harley.html