Tsunami debris reaches B.C. coast earlier than expected

The bottles come in a variety of shapes and colours — greens, yellows, oranges, emblazoned with a stamp of Japanese characters to advertise the juices, teas, and cleaning products that once filled them.

Now if there's any liquid left inside these bottles it's salt water, collected over the nine months it took the initial debris from last March's earthquake and tsunami in Japan to reach the shores of Vancouver Island.

As CTV reports, a variety of household items with Japanese writing, everything from bottles, cans and even lumber, has started to wash up along the coast near Tofino, B.C.

Though oceanographers estimated the flotsam would not reach North America's west coast until 2014, many B.C. residents believe they are already starting to see a precursor to the enormous load expected to hit the area over the next two years.

Jean-Paul Froment, who has lived in Tofino's Chesterman's Beach area his whole life, told the network he has never seen this much debris before.

"Fisherman and friends have said they have found an unusual amount of bottles and items with Asian writing on it," he said.

Russian sailors have reportedly spotted a massive floating cluster heading west across the Pacific Ocean, approximately 2,700 kilometres east of Hawaii. The mass is estimated to cover an area twice the size of Texas and contains much larger material, including a fishing boat with Fukushima markings.

The mayor of Tofino has asked residents to remember the circumstances that caused the debris with an appropriate amount of solemnity.

"We will treat the whole thing with respect because everything that has come ashore has dealt with a significant human tragedy," he said.

On March 11, an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan's Tohoku region killed 26,000 and triggered radioactivity from the area's damaged nuclear plants.