Sunday, March 11, 2012

Beachcombing the Day after the Japan Tsunami

A beach in Sprecklesville, the morning after the tsunami.

A year ago, the beaches were closed the morning of March 11th. A tsunami had hit Japan, and there were evacuations Thursday night from the beach town of Paia.  I had a date Friday morning to meet a friend to go beachcombing in Sprecklesville, up the road from Paia, and didn't want to cancel it. When we arrived to the beach, the waters looked normal. Only as we started walking, did we notice that they seemed  irregular - the waters came in above the reef, and then subsided for several minutes, and then came gushing back in. The waves were disjointed. Simon, my friend's dog, was racing ahead of us and rolling in the sand. I figured if the dog wasn't running away from the water, maybe there was nothing to worry about. It may not have been one of the brighter things we've ever done, but we went beachcombing anyhow. We were looking for beach glass, but all the glass was buried in the sand. 

We ended up finding a lot of debris, broken branches, and garbage up and down the beach.  Aluminum cans were tossed all over the sand and partly buried under tree branches. We gathered at least 2 large bags of aluminum cans, many of them from a couple of decades ago. The waves had churned up hundreds of old beer and soda cans tossed into the ocean.  Eventually, we got spooked by the water, and made a beeline back to the car. Only later did we find out how devastating the tsunami really was. Hawaii was mostly spared, with damage to a few beachfront areas, but Japan's nuclear disaster had just started. 

A Pepsi can commemorating statehood, 25 years after 1959,
dating this can to 1984.

Olympus beer, from two or three decades ago.


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