Items that have been washing up from Japan in Tofino

Items that have been washing up from Japan in Tofino


This post contains information and pictures of Japanese and other foreign items that have washed up and been found along the Tofino coastline area this winter that may be from the Tsunami / 9.0 Earthquake in Japan on March 11, 2011. More than 200,000 buildings were washed out by the enormous waves that followed the quake. There have been reports of cars, tractor-trailers, capsized ships and even whole houses bobbing around in open water.

Again, these items may or may not be related to the tsunami/ earthquake in Japan.  They could quite possibly be garbage that was tossed from fishing boats, or from other unrelated events but nonetheless it’s a preview of what’s to come in the near future.

Typically every year in Tofino there will be some degree of items similar to these that can be seen on this coastline, however the amount that we have been seeing recently seems higher than in past recent years. (especially the amount of dimensional lumber)

One of the questions that we would like to ask out readers

In Canada, a lot of the goods that we use and consume are manufactured in other countries such as China. These items would typically be sold in Canada with English and French labels as we are a bi-lingual country. Japan must also consume goods from other countries like China, so would the products be sold with Chinese labels, or Japanese labels? Several of the items shown below originate from China, but may have come from countries other than China. Can anyone please confirm whether they have Chinese or Japanese writing on them?

UPDATE: Dec 17, 2011

Using Jim Ingraham’s OSCAR (Ocean Surface Current Simulator), oceanographer Curtis C. Ebbesmyer predicts that debris from Japan’s Tsunami could arrive on the westcoast as early as Halloween 2011. More info here. He describes how items that float on the waters surface can be accelerated by winds and travel across the ocean much faster.

UPDATE: Dec 17, 2011

This post has created quite a buzz and seems to be starting some great discussion. Some of the questions arising…..

“How are we gonna deal with this mess, when it arrives?” This will be a significant amount of debris and garbage on our beaches and will need to be cleaned somehow. Many volunteers and organizations and government bodies will need to work together to clean up the coastline. Some of the items may be very large and may require machinery which might not be accessible in some locations and remote areas.

“What can I do to help?” You could start by contacting your local Surfrider Chapter such as Surfrider Pacific Rim and getting in on or helping organize beach cleanups.

“How should these items be treated as they wash ashore?” This is the result of a massive tragedy, and although a lot of the debris will be garbage once it washes ashore, some of these items carry a lot of history with them. Some may still be very important to their original owners, and some items may be disturbing to find.

“How will it affect us?”  Our pristine beaches could be covered in debris and such. Will this affect tourism? Will it attract tourists to come and beach comb? It could also pose potential risk to surfers, boaters and other water and beach users.

“Are there any health risks?” Concerns of radiated materials have been raised. These items could have been in a radiated area as they were swept off to sea, or floating in radiated water and drifting through the ocean with hazardous airborne particulate that has been hovering over the floating debris, whereby increasing the levels of radiation in these objects.

“How will it affect the ocean life and our food chain?” With possibilities of radiation, chemical contamination, dietary issues, entanglement and blunt trauma injuries, there are many factors to consider when thinking about the sea life that this debris will affect during it’s travels.

UPDATE: Dec 16, 2011

After speaking with a writer from the Globe & Mail, there was mention of a scientist that claimed that it is highly unlikely that these items could have arrived as a result of the tsunami, but items like floats could arrive much sooner than expected. Many of the items that we have been finding such as the bottles below all contained air or were made of materials that float easily.

UPDATE Dec 15, 2011 CBC news

We came across this CBC news video and couldn’t believe it. Like this guy is wearing a Live To Surf t-shirt. Awesome!!

UPDATE Dec 14, 2011 CTV National News Story spurred by this post

*Note – Some of the different beaches listed below are on range of coastline that is over 40km in length including Long Beach / Wickaninnish Bay that is roughly 16km in length, so although the debris may seem higher in concentration on some beaches, this is mostly because we have been able to spend more time on these specific beaches. Other reasons may be due to beach direction and specific wind, wave, and swell patterns that have hit these beaches.

Intense Adhesive – found on Chesterman Beach – Dec 01, 2011

Origin – China Taizhou Luqiao

Japanese water bottle – Found on Chesterman Beach – Dec 03, 2011

Origin – Japan


All Joy Lemon Scent Air Freshner – found on Chesterman Beach – Dec 04, 2011

Origin – China

Green Tea & Iced Black Tea – Found on Schooner Cove – Dec 06, 2011

Origin – Green Tea is made by and contains Chinese language

Origin – Iced Black Tea – China

JDR Water Bottle – Found on Longbeach – Dec 09, 2011

Origin – Korampallam, Thoothukkudi, India

Sandals still in the mold – Found on a beach in Barkley Sound – Dec 15, 2011

Origin – Unknown



Broken section of  truss Frame of a building – Found on a beach in Barkley Sound – Dec 19, 2011

Origin – Unknown

Medicine bottles? – Found on a beach on Gabriola Island – Dec 17/18 (User Submitted)

Origin – Unknown – Does anyone know what these are or what they say? 4 of them were found unopened with liquid in them.

Dimensional lumber has been seen on several local beaches including Chesterman Beach, Schooner Cove, Long Beach, Combers Beach, Wickaninnish Beach, and Florencia Bay, and other beaches in the Barkley Sound area.

Many of these lumber pieces are debarked wood packaging which have the ISPM-15 Japanese export stamp on them as you can see here in these photos. The photos of these lumber pieces are from this winter 2011 season.

Origin – The wood below all originates from Japan

CBC NEWS coverage on the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” that’s headed our way. These islands of garbage are thought to be larger than the province of Ontario.

If you have found any items, that you would like us to post here, please send photos and descriptions to or post your comments below.


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