KEKAHA — An unexpected treasure was found underneath the sizzling sun on the beaches of the Pacific Missile Range Facility Thursday, discovered by Navy Petty Officer Jon Moore during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Day.
What Moore found was a message in a bottle among a collection of ocean debris gathered along a one-mile stretch by PMRF personnel along with students and faculty from Ke Kula Ni‘ihau O Kekaha School in observance of International Coastal Cleanup Day.
The bottle was launched five years ago by Saki Arikawa — a sixth-grade student at the time — from Kagoshima, Japan, and traveled more than 4,000 miles before it was discovered on the Westside of Kaua‘i.
The bottle contained a letter, four origami flowers and a photo of Arikawa’s sixth-grade class.
“I looked over and saw the bottle,” Moore said. “I jokingly thought it would have a treasure map inside, but it actually had a message.”
When Moore found the bottle, all the volunteers wanted to know what was inside.
“When I started reading the letter, the Kanji looked familiar since I used to live in Japan and the name of the student sounded like an average Japanese name to me. I was just glad the letter was in English at the bottom,” Moore said.
The letter was dated March 25, 2006, as an elementary school graduation memory for Arikawa with the intent that the recipient would write a letter back.
“I’ll definitely respond. I want to write back to the school and get their thoughts,” Moore said.
The message is more than just a letter to Moore. When he found it, it reminded him of home. Though originally from Guyana, South America, he considers Japan home because his wife and son reside there. He’s excited to tell them about what he found and plans on visiting Kagoshima on his next trip home to visit his family.
According to the Ocean Conservancy’s website, during the past 25 years the International Coastal Cleanup has become the world’s largest volunteer effort for ocean health. Nearly nine million volunteers from 152 countries and locations have cleaned 145 million pounds of trash from the shores of lakes, streams, rivers and the ocean on just one day each year.
During this annual September event, hundreds of thousands of volunteers worldwide spend a day picking up everything from cigarette butts and food wrappers to lost fishing nets and major appliances.
• Jay C. Pugh is a U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class.