With the debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami drifting on ocean currents toward the coast of North America, a small group of skilled sea-kayakers set out to document the flotsam as it began to come ashore along the remote and roadless Washington coast. Over the course of the summer, the team filmed their paddling adventures as well as the beach survey processes and the result is a 45-minute documentary that details every aspect of the project, from inception to completion.
“This film is important, especially for Northwest residents, because it details an area that most people never see,” said Ken Campbell, one of the film’s producers and a kayaker and author. “Even those who hike portions of the coast aren't able to access many of the areas that this film explores. Beyond this, the roadless coast is part of a National Marine Sanctuary and a National Park. I think people will be surprised by how much debris there is out there and how difficult it will be to clean it up.”
The team is comprised of experienced paddling 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. Steve Weileman is a documentary film-maker and photographer, with previous experience in Newfoundland and Alaska, as well as numerous locations throughout the Northwest. Jason Goldstein, the third member of the crew, began his kayaking career in Christchurch, New Zealand, and works as a cartographer and GIS specialist.
Pollution, specifically plastic and other floating debris, is a very real threat to our oceans and to untouched ecosystems like the wild Olympic coast. The film details the issue of marine debris as well as highlights the portion of the problem that can be directly attributed to the tsunami. Pieces of a Japanese house were found at one northern peninsula beach and a soccer ball that came from a small village called Otsuchi was found on another. These personal items bring the tragedy home in a way that nothing else can, and the story of the Ikkatsu Project includes the human interest side of the tale as well as emphasizing the scientific and ecological elements that drive the discussion.
Ikkatsu is a Japanese word that means “united as one,” which is a concept that the tsunami debris illustrates in a powerful way. This project is an attempt to understand how we are connected and how no matter how distant and separate 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.