Cleanup Volunteer Finds Message in a Bottle

A letter from a sixth grader in Japan travels all the way to Hawaii by way of ocean currents.

Message in a bottle - Photo: Alan Turkus via Flickr

Navy Petty Officer Jon Moore was picking up trash along the beach at the U.S. Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai in Hawaii when he found something unusual. "I looked over and saw the bottle. I jokingly thought it would have a treasure map inside, but it actually had a message," he said.

The bottle, sent by young Saki Arikawa of Kagoshima, Japan, contained a letter, four origami flowers and a photo of Arikawa’s sixth-grade class. She wrote the letter on March 25, 2006, on the occasion of her elementary school graduation, with the hope that the recipient would write back to her.

Jon Moore with the bottle he foundWhen Moore found the bottle, he was participating in Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup®, which brings together a wide range of people across the globe on one day to share a one-of-a-kind experience cleaning up and documenting trash. He was working on the beach alongside more than 40 personnel from the missile range facility who teamed up with 16 students and faculty members from Ke Kula Ni'ihau O Kekaha School.

The romantic notion of sending messages to far-off lands by launching bottles into the sea began long ago. Today the reality is that we can’t continue throwing huge quantities of bottles or any other manufactured items into the water.

The ocean simply can’t absorb all the trash we allow into it, which can last for years and harm people, wildlife and economies. Over nearly three decades, International Coastal Cleanup volunteers have picked up more than 160 million pounds of harmful trash from the ocean and waterways.

Moore’s find provides a telling illustration of how trash travels on ocean currents: The bottle covered more than 4,000 miles during five years before it was found on the west side of Kauai.

Arikawa's class photo“This is a great story showing the terrific partnerships of the Cleanup and also the international importance of the Pacific Ocean we share,” says Chris Woolaway, International Coastal Cleanup Coordinator for the state of Hawaii.

Moore, whose wife and son live in Japan, said he looks forward to visiting Kagoshima and connecting with Arikawa on his next trip home.

Want to participate in the International Coastal Cleanup? Find a Cleanup site near you.

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