Messages in a bottle
When Parksville resident Rob Tryon went for a walk on the beach on the second anniversary of the tsunami disaster in Japan, he found what looked like a reminder of the triple disaster after taking just a few short steps.
Tryon, the general manager of Effing Oysters in Barclay Sound, was inspecting one of the company's oyster leases near Sechart Lodge on Vancouver Island's west coast Monday when he heard a radio report about the grim anniversary in Japan.
"I hadn't been to the beach for a while and with everyone talking about the anniversary I thought I would take a look and do a quick walk," he said. "I stepped out onto the beach and took about five steps and there it was."
Laying in the sand at the high tide line was a water bottle with what looked like Japanese writing on it.
However, the he conceded the bottle was in surprisingly good shape for having been at sea for two years and he suggested it may well have been thrown overboard from a fishing vessel.
That vessel in fact may well have not been Japanese however.
The bottle in question contained two English words along with the Oriental script, labeling it as Nongfu Spring water.
That company is based in China, not Japan.
While that doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t originate in Japan, it should be noted that Nongfu Spring water was at the centre of an international incident between China and Japan.
The issue arose when Japanese ambassador to China, Uichiro Niwa, attended an event to mark the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan.
The Japanese entourage was handed bottles of Nongfu Spring water but put them aside in favour of Evian water, which they had brought with them.
The incident sparked outrage in China and was used as an example of how relations between the two countries still had a long way to go.
Regardless of whether the bottle came from Japan or China, officials are anticipating the slow-moving mass of debris will start to show up in increasing amounts on west coast beaches between March and May.
If you find debris you believe is related to the 2011 tsunami in Japan, e-mail DisasterDebris@noaa.gov.