Flotsam and Jetsam

What’s the difference between flotsam and jetsam?  Flotsam floats upon the surface of the ocean waves, while Jetsam is stranded on shore by the receding tide.  So when an unaffiliated flaperon appeared in the waves at Saint-André near Redwood Pond on Wednesday morning, did it really matter whether the sub-alar component was bobbing in the ocean swell or already ashore? Not very much:

C’est une étrange découverte qu’ont fait les membres de l’association 3E travaillant sur le littoral de Saint-André, devant l’étang de Bois-Rouge. C’est vers 9 heures qu’ils ont vu cette pièce poussée par les vagues contre la rive. Ils l’ont sortie de l’eau sans difficulté. Ils ont en effet retrouvé un morceau d’aile d’avion mesurant environ 3 mètres sur 1, vraisemblablement son extrémité.

Free translation: {Members of 3E made a strange discovery while working on the Saint-André coast near Bois-Rouge Pond. At around 9 o’clock they saw something pushed by the waves onto the shore. They got it out of the water no problem (without difficulty) and found that they had retrieved part of an airplane wing, apparently the wingtip, measuring about 3 x 10 feet.}

Xavier Tytelman, an expert in aviation security, said it [was possible] that the wreckage belonged to MH370, which vanished without trace in March last year. He noted that local media photos showed “incredible similarities between a #B777 flaperon and the debris found,” referring to a Boeing 777 — the type of aircraft in service on MH370.


Until today Reunion Island generally appeared in mass media for two types of news stories: chikungunya or shark attacks.  Now you can add the Indian Ocean Gyre to the shortlist.


Let’s see what those oceanographers at the University of Rhode Island can do with this mystery.  Let’s see them walk back 16 months of Indian Ocean current data to model the path of this floating sub-alar component … back to the vicinity where it originally separated from the main assembly (MH370) on 8 Mar 2014.  U.S. Navy has the ocean data and NOAA does too.  Unleash the hydrodynamic modellers!



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