By: Dianna Parker, Communications Specialist, NOAA Marine Debris Program
A soccer ball that recently washed up on a remote Alaskan shore may belong to a teenager impacted by last year’s devastating tsunami in Japan. It’s likely to be one of the first items to return home after traveling thousands of miles across the North Pacific Ocean.
The Office of Response and Restoration’s Doug Helton and the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Neal Parry have the story:
An observant beach comber on Middleton Island, in the Gulf of Alaska, found a soccer ball and volleyball with Japanese writing on them. A school name is stenciled on the soccer ball, and his wife was able to translate the writing to trace it to a school. We have confirmed that the school was in the tsunami zone, but because the school is set up on a hill, it wasn’t seriously impacted.
A Japanese broadcasting station aired a photo of the ball and was able to locate 16 year-old Misaki Murakami, who recognized the ball and the messages written on it. One reportedly says, “Good luck, Murakami!!” He says he lost it, along with the rest of his possessions.