A group of kayakers spent a week participating in a large tsunami debris cleanup on Vancouver Island’s northwest coast, focusing on the southeast arm of Quatsino Sound.
Twenty people took part, leaving from Gooding Cove on June 19 and paddling by kayak to Restless Bight. The debris is part of an estimated five million tons that was carried out into the ocean by the March 11, 2011 tsunami that hit Japan’s east coast.
The cleanup was organized by the B.C. Marine Trails Network Association’s Stewardship Directors, Reale Emond and Gene Gapsis.
On June 25, a group of the cleanup volunteers gathered at 7 Mile Landfill and Recycling outside Port McNeill mid-afternoon to sort through the objects they had gathered from the west coast during the week, enough to fill a 40-cubic metre bin plus another bin full of floating debris like buoys.
Volunteer Randy Maillar said that some of the most interesting pieces they found were those that were little fragments of people’s lives, like hardhats, kids balls, boots and shoes.
They also found large red light bulbs, intact, that are from the main cabins inside Japanese fishing trollers. Other items included a collection of bottles, Japanese tires, piles upon piles of turquoise rope, and enormous, irregularly-shaped pieces of foam.
“It’s really important to do something to help the area we love,” said Emond.
The cleanup was made possible by the Vancouver Aquarium Tsunami Debris Management Program, which includes funding from the Government of Japan, the B.C. government, the Ministry of Environment and the Canadian government.