Japan Tsunami Debris Headed Our Way, L.A. Sailing Expedition Reports

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Tue, Jul 24, 2012 at 11:56 AM
click to enlarge 5 GYRES
  • 5 Gyres

Yes, the debris from Japan's March, 2011 tsunami is coming to L.A. And a locally based ocean explorer says he knows exactly want's headed our way:

An 8 feet by 5 feet fishing boat, an inflated truck tire, about 200 pounds of tangled fishing net, 6 large fishing buoys and several buckets and crates. Really. [Clarification: This stuff is headed our way because the crew picked it up along the ride as evidence and will bring it to L.A., a rep for the expedition says].

Marcus Eriksen led an expedition to the nether regions of the Pacific this summer to explore the flow of tsunami debris, and what he says found isn't pretty:

From this point forward, we will see a steady trickle of tsunami debris of all sizes washing ashore. In time, the debris remaining will be mostly plastic and will degrade into smaller fragments until it is indistinguishable from the pre-tsunami plastic pollution already in our seas.

The expedition organized by L.A.-based 5 Gyres, Pangea Explorations and Algalita Marine Research Institute took a group of a dozen or so people from L.A. to Japan and back to Hawaii starting in May. They sailed aboard a 72-foot sailing vessel, the Sea Dragon.

Erickson says the Japanese tsunami debris will undoubtedly, in his estimation, also add to the North Pacific Gyre, a.k.a. the swirling dump at sea known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

No es bueno.

click to enlarge 5 GYRES / FACEBOOK
  • 5 Gyres / Facebook

The environmentalist says the expedition encountered some piece of debris or trash in the ocean every 3.6 minutes during 41 hours of timed observation at sea at one point along the voyage.

When they hit Japan this month, the explorers state they found this:

The tsunami expedition team found the fishing boat, its Japanese name written with three characters spelling out "bright door ship," capsized roughly 2,000 miles east of Tokyo. The team is working with Japanese television network NHK to try to locate its owner. Other items found included a tatami straw mat, an inflated light-truck tire stamped "Made in Japan," a metal propane tank, a large oval buoy from an oyster farm and several buckets and crates with embossed Japanese characters.

So, yeah, well helmets and goggles, surfers.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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