Boat owner finds tsunami debris on Orcas Island



ORCAS ISLAND, Wash. - A San Juan Islands boat owner said he believes he found debris from last year's Japan tsunami next to his boat while walking past it.


Tom Averna was on Orcas Island when he saw a small spike floating next to his boat, and he believes the object was uprooted by the massive tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011.


The tsunami killed 15,000 people and dragged five million tons of debris into the Pacific Ocean.


“It looks out of place,” said Tom Averna. “I picked it up, went like this, then went like this and it was like, ‘Ka-Boom!’”


Averna’s find is the first known piece to wash up in the San Juan Islands. His friend translated the script found on the object and he said it meant “National Land Survey.” The object was a government stake.


According to experts, tsunami debris is just a sign of what is expected to float in the water. Larger items such as cars and refrigerators could wash up on Washington shores next year.


Another boat owner, Mitch Brown, told KIRO 7’s Lee Stoll that he parks his boat at Deer Harbor marina and wondered how the debris made it into the cove. 


“You have to wonder how it got in here,” Brown said. “This is a long way in here and around a lot of corner to get here.”


State officials are meeting at the end of the month to talk about what to do with the debris and who will pay for any cleanup.


Officials in Canada and the U.S. want to know if anyone spots tsunami debris, and they’ve set up a joint information website. For more information, click here.