Lifestyle & Belief

Japan tsunami: soccer ball, volleyball likely first confirmed debris in Alaska


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released this photo of Japanese writing found on a soccer ball from a school in the strike zone of the March, 2011 tsunami. It washed up on a remote Alaskan island recently.


David Baxter

After a journey of more than 3,000 miles at sea, the first debris from Japan’s tsunami of March last year has washed up in Alaska, CBS News reports today with The Associated Press.

A volleyball and a soccer ball have been found on Middleton Island, due south of Cordova in the Gulf of Alaska, 70 miles from the mainland.

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In a blog post, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, said the balls may be sent back to the sporting grounds from where they originally washed away.

The agency, part of the US Department of Commerce, said a beach comber on the Island found the balls and that his wife had translated Japanese writing on them. The name of a school situated within the zone affected by the tsunami was stenciled on the soccer ball but that the school was perched on a hill and survived the massive wave.

“This may be one of the first opportunities since the March 2011 tsunami that a remnant washed away from Japan has been identified and could actually be returned to its previous owner,” wrote Doug Helton, the blog post’s author.

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“NOAA is working with the US State Department, the Japanese Embassy and the Japanese consulate in Seattle to confirm the details of the school connection and to set up a process to return any future items.”