In 2012, the Ikkatsu Project was formed in Tacoma, WA. The first Ikkatsu expedition traveled the rugged Olympic shoreline of Washington, surveying remote beaches for marine debris. Although they were originally focused on debris from the March, 2011 tsunami that had drifted on ocean currents and made landfall on the coast of North America, expedition members soon realized that the problem consisted of much more than simply the remains of the tragedy in Japan. Beaches everywhere are being inundated with pollution, most of it plastic and much of it toxic. Raising awareness about this serious environmental issue is the team’s primary goal and it has released a documentary that details the 2012 trip, Ikkatsu: The Roadless Coast.

The 2013 Ikkatsu expedition traveled to south-central Alaska, to the volcanic island of Augustine, that sits at the mouth of Cook Inlet. Based on computer projections, tsunami debris was expected to have already begun arriving on the rarely-visited shoreline of the island, as well as on the beaches of the nearby Alaska Peninsula, just seven miles away. The Ikkatsu team kayaked around the island, and conducted surveys of the beaches and once again will turn over all of the collected data to NOAA and other scientific organizations. In addition, water samples were collected at various points along the route and sent to the east coast as part of an ongoing study of microplastics. Although one of the original goals of the Alaska expedition was to develop protocol for in-field study of plastic ingestion by waterfowl, the lack of beach-cast birds to study made that goal unacheivable.  However, Ikkatsu still plans on working with Oikonos (an environmental non-profit that focuses on issues involving sea bird populations), on the protocol development in the future.

The team is composed of two experienced professional guides, each having a multi-year resume including 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. Steve Weileman is a documentary filmmaker and photographer, with previous experience in Newfoundland and Alaska, as well as numerous locations throughout the Northwest. The Ikkatsu team filmed both the Roadless Coast and the Augustine expedition, and plan on releasing another short documentary, Message in a Plastic Bottle, in the spring of 2015.

Pollution, specifically plastic and other flotsam, is a very real threat to our oceans and to untouched ecosystems like the coasts of Washington and south-central Alaska. It is hoped that surveys like these will assist in better understanding and remediating the problem. Ikkatsu is a Japanese word that means, “united as one,” which is a concept that the tsunami debris – and all marine debris – illustrates in a powerful way. This expedition is an attempt to understand how we are connected… 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.

Additional information and updates continue to be posted on this web site and on the Project’s Facebook page. Earlier in 2014, the Ikkatsu Project incorporated the construction of a plastic-bottle kayak and a voyage that followed, north through Puget Sound. Construction of a SUP made out of plastic bottles followed… still looking for the right expedition for that one.

The Tacoma Shoreline Survey in the latter part of 2014 is a first attempt at establishing a baseline of beach debris on the shores of Tacoma, in south Puget Sound. It is hoped that the data that is compiled will be used to guide future beach cleanup efforts and serve to connect people to this very special part of the Pacific Northwest.

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If you would like more information, or to schedule an interview, please call 253/691-7941 or email Ken at ken@ikkatsuproject.org


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