POLITICS

Tsunami-swept Harley found in Canada after drifting across Pacific

05/02/2012 09:24 EDT | Updated 07/02/2012 05:12 EDT
TOKYO - Call it the Harley of the high seas.

A rust-encrusted Harley-Davidson motorcycle, made buoyant by the sea container in which it was stored, washed up on an island off the coast of British Columbia after it was lost in last year's tsunami in Japan, about 6,400 kilometres away.

It's just the latest — and, so far at least, the most improbable — cross-oceanic discovery to be made on the west coast of North America since the devastating wave washed across the Japanese shoreline on the other side of the Pacific Ocean last March.

"This is unmistakably mine," the bike's owner, Ikuo Yokoyama, told a Japanese TV station after he was located through the licence plate and shown photos of his ride.

"It's miraculous."

Yokoyama lost three members of his family in the March 11, 2011, tsunami, and is now living in temporary housing in Miyagi prefecture.

A year later, an Alaska man found a football and later a volleyball from Japan; their owners were located last week using names that had been inscribed on the balls.

Canadian Peter Mark, who found the bike and its container, told Japan's Fuji TV that he "couldn't believe that something like that would make it across the Pacific." The discovery was made April 18 on Graham Island, off the coast of British Columbia.

The motorcyle was caked with "a lot of corrosion, a lot of rust," Mark said.

When he saw the Japanese licence plate, Mark wondered if it might have drifted from Japan after the tsunami, and contacted a local TV station.

The Fuji report said the motorcycle would be shipped back to Japan, and that the shop that sold it to Yokoyama would help with paperwork and storage.

Debris from the tsunami initially gathered in the ocean off Japan's northeastern coast and has since spread out across the Pacific.

In February, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted currents would carry much of the debris to the coasts of Alaska, Canada, Washington and Oregon between March 2013 and 2014, though they correctly predicted that some of it could arrive this year.

One of the eeriest discoveries came last month when a dislodged fishing boat was spotted floating in the Gulf of Alaska.

A U.S. Coast Guard cutter fired on and sank the vessel after authorities had deemed the ship a hazard to shipping and to the coastline.