The devastating tsunami in Japan on March 11, 2011 swept untold tons of debris into the Pacific. Most of it sunk, but many of the buoyant bits are still floating, in the middle of the Pacific, caught in the ocean’s currents. Those currents are slowly sweeping debris from Japan towards the shores of the United States and Canada. Already, debris with Japanese origins has washed up on the shores of Vancouver Island, and continues to wash up every day on our coastline.
The MMBC developed a project that aims to collect photos of flotsam that has washed ashore. A Facebook site has been launched that will allow users to upload photos of bits that are found along the beaches. Moderators at the Museum will attempt to determine the origin of debris, assess any potential value and place photos of the objects on the site. In some cases where an object has been collected from the beach it may be able to be returned to its owner. Go to the Facebook Site. (Tsunami Debris Project – Maritime Museum of BC). You can also email pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even if repatriation of items is not possible, the online curated collection of images will make an interesting exhibit about the flotsam and jetsam that is inevitable following a natural disaster of this magnitude.
The Maritime will cooperate with federal and provincial departments to share the data collected so that those ministries may facilitate clean-up if necessary.
In general, report debris that can be attributed to the Japanese tsunami to DisasterDebris@noaa.gov.
BC Ministry of Environment – contains information about what to do if you find driftage along the beach, including a contact if it is potentially hazardous waste.
Japanese Tsunami Debris Public Information Sheet_May 2012 – this is similar information from the BC Ministry of the environment, in a .pdf format.