Tsunami debris? Tsunami debris. Here. Now.
Curtis Ebbesmeyer, the flotsam guy, was here in Port Angeles earlier in the month. He and James Ingraham gave a presentation at the college about the science of flotsam, their computer model, and the likelihoods— including that the earliest arriving tsunami debris, driven by wind as well as the known movements of water in the North Pacific Gyre, could show up at the 8-month point, like now, rather than at the two-year point as NOAA's water-driven models predict. They showed a lot of debris collected east of Neah Bay, including a big float that they were persuaded is surely from the tsunami coast. December 15 story from Peninsula Daily News).
December 16 followup story reported that similar buoys had been found up on Vancouver Island, and at La Push on Rialto Beach (eeeep, that's my beach, said I), and December 18 a story passing on a news story from Japan that "it looks like those used in oyster cultivation in the Miyagi area, The Mainichi Daily News said... Miyagi prefecture is in northeastern Japan and includes the hard-hit city of Sendai."
So on Sunday the 18th, KF and AM and I were ambling along at Rialto Beach. We crossed Ellen Creek, and there far back in the drift was, yes, a buoy, looking just like the one found at Neah Bay that they had on the stage at the presentation. But English markings.
I emailed Dr. Ebbesmeyer. English markings, said I, so I assume not tsunami debris. Oh yes, he said, the same as the others and tentatively identified by Japanese officials. Eeeep, said I. Who manufactured it, what do the markings tell us, [doesn't seem very confirmed to me, I really meant], said I. Still doing research, said he.
But really it seems most likely. Why else are these things suddenly up and down the west coast here, exactly as predicted by the computer models for high-floating objects, unless truly they were carried away from the tsunami coast in the spring and now they are here? As will eventually be boats and houses and all the rest of what is now still out in the ocean... Dr. Ebbesmeyer says people in Japan hide mementos in their house walls, and we will need to be cautiously and even reverently attentive to the debris as it arrives, to preserve what traces we find for their families' sake. Oh my.