Kayaking and Science on the wild Olympic coast

Washington Coast

With the debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami drifting on ocean currents toward the coast of North America ahead of its projected schedule, our small group of kayakers is setting out to document the flotsam as it begins to come ashore along the remote and roadless Washington coast. Between Neah Bay, at the tip of the peninsula, and Ruby Beach, at the southern end of the roadless section, lies approximately 60 miles of pristine Olympic coastline, much of it inaccessible to foot travel. It is here, on secluded pocket beaches surrounded by soaring sea stacks and intricate rock gardens, that the debris will make landfall.

Washinton Coast

Some of the beautiful coastline to be found in Washington. Photo credit: Ken Campbell

Our team is composed of three experienced professional guides, each having a multi-year resume including multiple trips and expeditions to remote coastal environments. Ken Campbell has authored several books on Pacific Northwest kayaking and is a frequent contributor to print and online magazines on subjects relating to the outdoors and the environment. Jason Goldstein began his kayaking career in Christchurch, New Zealand, currently owns his own guide service and works as a cartographer and GIS specialist. Steve Weileman is a documentary film maker and photographer, with previous experience in Newfoundland and Alaska, as well as numerous locations throughout the Northwest. Each of us brings a specific set of skills to the project and is looking forward to this unique opportunity to combine science and adventure.

Pollution, specifically plastic and other floating debris, is a very real threat to our oceans and to untouched ecosystems like the wild Olympic coast. It is hoped that surveys like this one can be a part of better understanding and remediating the problem. The Ikkatsu expedition will coordinate with several research scientists and organizations, including Liam Antrim (NOAA) and Anne Shaffer (Coastal Watershed Instutute), to conduct surveys and locate not only debris that is specific to the 2011 tsunami, but other concentrations of plastic flotsam as well. Other organizations that will be included in the study include Washington DNR and the Surfrider Foundation.

Ikkatsu is a Japanese word that means “united as one,” which is a concept that the tsunami debris illustrates in a powerful way. This expedition is an attempt to understand how we are connected, one society to another, and how no matter how distant and unconnected something may seem at first glance, we are all riding on the same planet. The vast expanse of the oceans doesn’t keep us apart; it is what joins us together.

The Ikkatsu expedition is scheduled to begin on June 8th, 2012. Updates will be posted here at the expedition blog; keep checking back for more information on how you can be a part of what promises to be an amazing journey.

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