Three Years Later, Where Did Japanese Tsunami Debris Go?

Mar 11, 2014

Exactly three years have passed since a huge tsunami in March 2011 took thousands of lives in Japan and washed whole villages out to sea. Suspected tsunami debris started arriving on our shores the following December, but it's been less than feared.

Nir Barnea, federal coordinator for marine debris in the Pacific Northwest, says we may never know for sure where the majority of the tsunami debris went.

“A lot of the debris was made of wood. If you look at the photos from early after the tsunami, you see a lot of wood out there. Some of it — maybe even most of it — has sunk. Other debris may not have reached us. It has dispersed and may never reach us,” Barnea said.

Barnea is awaiting confirmation from the Japanese consulate whether a derelict skiff that washed ashore near Westport, Washington in January can be traced to the 2011 tsunami.