Call it the end of the mystery of the missing soccer ball.
A man located a soccer ball washed ashore on a remote Alaskan island that is believed to be one of the first pieces of wreckage from last year's horrific tsunami in Japan.
David Baxter, a radar technician, found the piece of sports equipment while beachcombing on Middleton Island in March. Along with his wife, Yumi, they began the search for its rightful owner, the Daily Mail reports.
Amazingly, it didn't take long.
A Japanese teenager, Misaki Murakami, disclosed that it was indeed his ball that had traveled 3,500 miles away to that remote Alaskan beach.
Representatives of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tell the AP in Tokyo that the ball is one of the first pieces of tsunami wreckage to make its way to land across the Pacific Ocean. It's been projected by experts that a majority of the debris from the disaster will wash up in Alaska, Washington, Oregon and parts of Canada from March 2013-14.
That's in the future, though. In this case, Murakami, 16, will soon get his soccer ball, which was given to him as a going-away gift, when he changed schools in 2005, back in his hands. "It was a big surprise. I've never imagined that my ball has reached Alaska," Murakami said. "I've lost everything in the tsunami. So I'm delighted. I really want to say thank you for finding the ball."
Fortunately for Baxter and his wife, the soccer ball had Murakami's name still visibly written on it, despite spending a year in the cold ocean water.
In addition, the couple found a volleyball, but they haven't been able to find its original owner, at least yet.
-- Follow Ben Maller on Twitter @BenMaller
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