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article imageTsunami soccer ball from Japan hits Alaskan shore, owner found

By Marcus Hondro     Apr 23, 2012 in World
If soccer balls could talk this one would tell a story about floating and floating and then floating. It is from a school in Japan and was swept out to sea in last year's Tsunami and, after a year of floating, it has turned up on an Alaskan shore.
It's considered to be the first salvageable debris that could be returned to it owners. or so says the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who are tracking debris from the tsunami. Doug Helton, the coordinator for the NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration, said there are markings on the ball that identify it from a school in Japan called the Osabe School.
Tsunami debris from Japan
The tsunami occurred on March 11, set off by an earthquake of an magnitude off 9 of the coast of Japan. Since the devastating tidal wave debris has been on the open ocean floating toward North America. The NOAA website says the "Japanese government estimated that the tsunami swept about 5 million tons of debris into the ocean, but that 70 percent sank off shore, leaving 1.5 million tons floating."
They do not now know how much debris might still be floating out there.
Earlier this month a somewhat larger piece of debris, a ghost ship, a crewless Japanese fishing boat, the 170 foot Ryou-Un Maru, was sunk by the U.S. Coast Guard after it was discovered in late March floating about two-hundred miles from Stika, Alaska. The vessel was adrift in a marine transport corridor and it was thought to be a danger to other ships. The owners of the ship had been contacted in Japan but did not intend to salvage it.
Soccer ball floats to Alaska
The ball was found on a beach up on the remote Middleton Island in the Gulf of Alaska by a David Baxter, who works on the island as a technician at a radar station. Other debris thought to have been from the tsunami had been found on beaches on that island and elsewhere in Alaska but Helton said that the floating soccer ball was the first object with identifying marks.
So will they return it? Helton says yes. "We're working with the guy who found it and the State Department and the consulate in Seattle to set up a process (to return it)," Helton said.
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