By Ken Campbell
The time has gone by so quickly, it’s hard to believe that the Ikkatsu Project is halfway through its second year of operation. We started this project in January last year, and at that time, we had the simple idea to take a sea kayak trip along the roadless coast of the Olympic Peninsula, with our main goal of locating any debris from the Japanese tsunami of March 2011. We also thought it might be interesting to film the expedition, not really giving much thought to what might come of that either.
As the year progressed, we began working with scientists on questions related to marine debris in general (not just tsunami debris), and we committed to doing beach surveys and passing on the results so that they could be used to coordinate future cleanup efforts. The film (shown above in its entirety) grew from being an afterthought into an actual expedition documentary. Suddenly, we began attracting significant media attention after discovering the remains of a Japanese house on one remote beach and a soccer ball from a Japanese coastal town on another. The project had progressed from being a one-time vacation idea to a full-time vocation.
As 2013 got underway, our focus expanded to encompass not only the issue of tsunami debris and other marine flotsam, but also the problems associated with plastic ingestion by sea birds. We’re partnering with Oikonos, a nonprofit that has done extensive research into this issue, to develop a protocol for other citizen-scientists to examine birds in the field and bring back the results. We’ve also been working in schools, using the things we’ve learned about beach surveys to help middle and high school students understand more about the way that ocean currents and marine debris affect our environment.
Right now, we’re en route on the project’s next leg: leaving through the rest of July to continue our surveys of remote beaches on the island of Augustine and on the north side of the Alaska Peninsula, near the mouth of Cook Inlet in south-central Alaska. We’ll be traveling by sea kayak once again and filming the expedition for a new 2014 documentary — tentatively titled “Secrets of Augustine” — that we are planning to use to as a way to help continue to raise awareness about these important issues. Follow along with the adventure at our expedition website and Facebook page.