Michael Nedbal, with Makai Ocean Engineering and other staff at the Makai Research Pier in Waimanalo, spotted a bin floating in the water in front of Rabbit Island Tuesday morning.
They knew right away that it was something important.
“He just went out, put a rope around it, and dragged it back to the pier,” said Nedbal.
“So the beauty of this facility is we have this overhead bridge crane,” said Terry Kerby with the Hawaii Underwater Research Lab as he pointed to one of the cranes they use to maneuver their vessels, which worked perfectly to pull up the large bin.
“It had this great weight skirt of barnacles on it,” he said.
It was found to be what are called Goose Neck barnacles, which are found out in the open sea. The thick layer of barnacles weighed down the bin, standing it upright and causing it to better catch the wind.
That name on the side of the bin is Y.K. Suisan, which is a Japanese company. Those markings seemed to hint at the blue bin's journey and what it could mean.
“Anything that has that much windage is going to be the first thing to get here because any low debris is not going to move as fast,” said Kerby.
“And we found out the location was actually in the tsunami zone in Japan, and found out it was hit by the tsunami and went out of business and recently started business in 2011,” said Nedbal.
The bin is being tested and analyzed at the Anuenue Fisheries Research Center. Researchers are focusing on whether there are any invasive species.
Nedbal told KITV their company has been developing software to analyze tsunamis.
Now, they have a big blue sign, showing just maybe, some of the debris from Japan's tsunami is finally in Hawaii.
“So, I'm interested to see if more things start showing up,” he said.
The state is working with federal agencies and the Japan Consul of Hawaii.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources reported Wednesday night that the bin may indeed be the first confirmed piece of tsunami debris to arrive in Hawaii, but they’re still waiting to hear back from Y.K Suisan.
Y.K. Suisan is a Japanese seafood company with offices in the hard-hit Tohoku-Sendai region.