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BARKING SANDS, Hawaii - An unexpected treasure was found underneath the sizzling sun on the beaches of the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) Sept. 15. The treasure was discovered by Petty Officer Jon Moore during PMRF's participation in the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup Day. What Moore found was a literal message-in-a-bottle among a collection of ocean debris picked up on a one mile stretch of the base's coastline.
More than 40 personnel from PMRF teamed up with 16 students and faculty from Ke Kula Ni'ihau O Kekaha School in observance of International Coastal Cleanup Day.
According to the Ocean Conservancy's website, over 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 amazing signature event each September, hundreds of thousands of volunteers from countries all over the world spend a day picking up everything from cigarette butts and food wrappers to lost fishing nets and major appliances. But on this day Moore found a bottle that wasn't just your average rubbish.
The bottle was sent from young Saki Arikawa -- a sixth grade student at the time -- in Kagoshima, Japan and traveled more than 4,000 miles and five years before it was discovered on the Westside of Kauai.
The bottle contained a letter, four origami flowers and a photo of Arikawa's sixth grade class.
"I looked over and saw the bottle. I jokingly thought it would have a treasure map inside, but it actually had a message," said Moore.
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," stated Moore.
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," said Moore.
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 since his wife and son reside there and he's excited to tell them about what he found. He plans on visiting Kagoshima on his next trip home to visit his family.