Floating West Coast Tsunami Debris

We can all remember the pictures of Japan's devastating tsunami, watching as so much stuff representing so many lives was swept out to sea. That debris is slowly coming our way floating toward the West Coast, corralled by currents and pushed by the winds.The sections of houses, the boats, the vehicles could create real problems on the B.C. coastline. Today, we're tracking the anticipation and the curiosity as a U.S. scientist prepares to sail into a debris field that may be the size of California but remains a mystery.

Part Three of The Current

Floating West Coast Tsunami Debris

Beachcombers walking along the beaches near Tofino B.C. never know what they're going to stumble on. Lately, some of it is marked with Japanese characters: lumber with Japanese export marks one day, some plastic bottles another, then more personal objects... things that once belonged to a family. It's arguably -- unusual flotsam -- but some believe it's soon going to be very typical.

When the tsunami pounded the coast of Japan last year, it tore as much as 25 million tonnes of debris from the land and dumped it into the Pacific. At least some of it is heading for Canada's West Coast. And now the debate is on in Tofino - as to whether what's washing up now - is in fact already fallout from the tsunami.

We aired a short documentary by The Current's Elizabeth Hoath. The last voice is the Mayor of Tofino, Perry Schmunk. The BC government is assembling a Provincial Tsunami Debris Working Group that will try to deal with some of the issues that may arise with the debris that's expected to wash ashore.

The debris field in the Pacific Ocean is estimated to be about the size of the state of California. Curtis Ebbesmeyer is tracking the movement of the tsunami's wreckage. He's an oceanographer and author who joined us from Seattle. And Marcus Erikson is hoping to find out more about the Japan tsunami debris field by sailing right through the middle of it. He's the Executive Director of the 5 Gyres Institute and will be leading the research expedition. He was in Los Angeles this morning.

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Last Word - Whitehorse Town Hall Promo

Next week, we'll be in Whitehorse for a special edition of The Current... a town hall discussion we're calling Fathers Without Fathers: Aboriginal Men In Canada.

Statistically Aboriginal children are far more likely to be living with one parent, their mother, than other Canadian kids. It's a story that seems to have its origins in the residential school system and that continues today, nurtured in prisons and on reserves. We'll take a look at the role of aboriginal fathers in their children's lives, why some have been absent or called invisible and what that's meant in the lives of their kids and communities.

We'll also focus on the people making a difference - the Game Changers quietly helping to change the lives of aboriginal fathers and their children. You can tune in to the show next week.

And if you happen to be in Whitehorse, please join us in the audience. Details are on our website.

Other segments from today's show:

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