VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Personal belongings and debris from the March tsunami in Japan have begun washing ashore in Canada on the west coast of Vancouver Island, officials said.
Mayor Perry Schmunk of the coastal town of Tofino told the Vancouver Sun residents and beachcombers began finding lumber stamped with Japanese export stamps Dec. 5.
Christmas Day, he and family were walking the beach and found Japanese labels on a baby's sock and a toothbrush.
Japan was hit with a devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake March 11 that caused a 33-foot high tsunami that battered the east coast and damaged nuclear reactors.
Various Canadian and U.S. oceanography officials have predicted the majority of the debris washed into the Pacific Ocean will arrive on North American western shores in 2014, but Schmunk has been urging locals to catalog and photograph their finds from the beaches.
"If what we're finding is tied to the tragedy that occurred last March, it's not just litter," he said.
More than 21,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the disaster, an unknown number of them swept away to sea.
The debris field swirling in the North Pacific is estimated to be the size of California, Seattle oceanographer and consultant Curt Ebbesmeyer said in November.