Along with many other tourists and locals, who are just as curious as we are, we spend the second part of our afternoon walking through patches of rain to Agate Beach, where a Japanese dock has washed up ashore. The dock – 19 feet long and 7 feet wide – has made headline news around the world: it was pried loose when the tsunami hit Japan last year, killing thousands. Now, more than a year later, debris from the tsunami is washing up along the Pacific coastline.
As we drive back to our hotel, we catch the tail end of a radio show where two men discuss potential risks associated with the barnacles that have clung to the dock for the 5,000 mile ocean journey. As I listen to their worries about the non-indigenous sea life mixing with local sea culture, I’m reminded again of the more than 15,000 lives that were lost in March 2011.