Friday, April 01, 2011

American Beachcombers Eagerly Await Japanese Treasures

Flotsam From Japan's Tsunami To Hit US West Coast

"John Anderson has discovered just about everything during the 30 years he's combed Washington state's beaches — glass fishing floats, hockey gloves, bottled messages, even hundreds of mismatched pairs of Nike sneakers that washed up barnacled but otherwise unworn.

The biggest haul may come in one to three years when, scientists say, wind and ocean currents eventually will push some of the massive debris from Japan's tsunami and earthquake onto the shores of the U.S. West Coast.

"I'm fascinated to see what actually makes it over here, compared to what might sink or biodegrade out there," said Anderson, 57, a plumber and avid beachcomber who lives in the coastal town of Forks, Wash.

The floating debris will likely be carried by currents off of Japan toward Washington, Oregon and California before turning toward Hawaii and back again toward Asia, circulating in what is known as the North Pacific gyre, said Curt Ebbesmeyer, a Seattle oceanographer who has spent decades tracking flotsam."

I'm not disparaging this at all. It's utterly fascinating to see what the tide brings in on the west coast, after possibly traveling thousands of miles. A lot of people try to make money off of this, just like a lot of people try to make money off of everything else. The sense of adventure and discovery is exhilarating when you see what the ocean brings you. The tides are going to inevitably bring millions of heartbreaking artifacts of what used to be Japanese society to the west coast of the US. I just hope people understand their significance.


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