Byline: Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Volunteers who patrol California beaches for plastic, cigarette butts and other litter will be on the lookout this winter for flotsam from 2011’s monstrous tsunami off Japan’s coast.
Armed with index-size cards, beachcombers will log water bottles, buoys, fishing gear and other possessions that might have sailed across the Pacific.
The March 2011 disaster washed about 5 million tons of debris into the sea. Most of that sank, leaving an estimated 1.5 million tons afloat. No one knows how much debris — strewn across an area three times the size of the United States — is still adrift.
Tsunami flotsam has already touched the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii this year. The West Coast is bracing for more sightings in the coming months as seasonal winds and coastal currents tend to drive marine wreckage ashore.
Like the past winter, scientists expect the bulk of the debris to end up in Alaska, Washington state, Oregon and British Columbia. In December, the Coast Guard spotted a massive dock that possibly came from Japan, on a wilderness beach in Washington state.