Two sports balls that have been found washed up on a beach in a remote island off the US west coast earlier this month may be the first pieces of debris to arrive in Alaska after they were displaced by last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The Anchorage Daily News said that the sports balls had been found washed up on Middleton Island in the Gulf of Alaska.
David Baxter, a technician at the radar site on the island, noticed the Japanese writing on the balls, which his wife translated and later managed to trace to the name of a school in Japan.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) later confirmed that the school in question was in the area that had been hit by the tsunami.
"There are have been other items that were suspected but this is first one that we're aware of that has the credentials that may make it possible to positively identify it," said the NOAA's Doug Helton.
News of the balls came after the US coastguard said it had intercepted an abandoned Japanese ship, below, that was also believed to have been washed out to sea in the tsunami last year.
Ryou-Un Maru, a derelict fishing vessel, was sunk near to Alaska, as it was seen to be posing a threat to regular marine traffic in the area.
"It's confirmed," Coast Guard chief petty officer Kip Wadlow told Reuters after the operation was carried out on 5 April. "The vessel has been sunk and is no longer a navigational hazard in the area."