Ocean Currents » japanese tsunami http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 03 Jul 2015 18:30:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Incredible Journey: Dock Propelled from Japan to Oregon Carries a Lesson in Biology http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/30/incredible-journey-dock-propelled-from-japan-to-oregon-carries-a-lesson-in-biology/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/30/incredible-journey-dock-propelled-from-japan-to-oregon-carries-a-lesson-in-biology/#comments Thu, 30 Aug 2012 18:09:19 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2579

Workers clean off the dock that washed ashore in Oregon. Credit: NOAA

Recently, contractors hauled away the final piece of a concrete dock weighing more than 165 tons that washed up on an Oregon beach after a 14-month journey across the Pacific Ocean. The dock was one of four that broke loose from the Japanese fishing port of Misawa during last year’s tsunami. One dock was found in Japan, a second turned up in Oregon in early June, and two are still missing.

The largest tsunami-borne object to travel across the Pacific and wash up on the West Coast so far, the dock generated immediate interest from the public. More than 1,000 people a day visited the site to pose for photos and be part of history. An enterprising artist even painted a breaking wave along one of the dock’s massive seven-foot-high sides.

Scientists at Oregon State University have been studying the impacts of invasive marine species for decades. But when the Misawa dock showed up about five miles down the coast from their Hatfield Marine Science Center, what they found defied their expectations. The Misawa dock was covered with hitchhikers: two tons of marine life – algae, crabs, shrimp, mussels, sea stars and more.

Essentially a floating island, the dock carried a complete ecosystem of Japanese coastal species, transported more than 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean. Scientists identified nearly 100 different species of sea life on the dock, including a number of species—like the brown kelp Undaria, the Asian shore crab and the North Pacific sea star—that are known to pose especially high ecological risks when introduced to new territories.

Globally, invasive species are a big deal. They can wreck havoc on natural ecosystems by out-competing native species, introducing disease, and leading to costly removal efforts. Case in point: When the Misawa dock landed on the beach, state workers launched an immediate emergency response, scraping the dock and burying everything removed, torching the dock to kill any remaining living organisms, and cutting the concrete up and hauling it to a landfill. All that took two months. And the final tab was an estimated $84,000.

Many are wondering if more tsunami debris items might show up soon bearing unwanted visitors. Only time will tell. But beyond the biology lesson, this dock has also become a fitting emblem for the enduring strength of the Japanese people. Workers at the salvage company saved one concrete chunk from the landfill. This piece of the dock will become part of a tsunami memorial to be installed in the Hatfield Marine Science Center – a fitting tribute to the human and biological impacts of the tsunami.

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Tsunamis are unavoidable; trash choking our ocean is not http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/07/16/tsunamis-are-unavoidable-trash-choking-our-ocean-is-not/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/07/16/tsunamis-are-unavoidable-trash-choking-our-ocean-is-not/#comments Mon, 16 Jul 2012 19:41:14 +0000 Janis Searles Jones http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=1701

A 66-foot dock that washed up in Oregon was identified and confirmed as tsunami-related debris. Credit: NOAA

As Interim President and CEO of Ocean Conservancy and a resident of the Pacific Northwest, I watched with concern the news of a large Japanese dock landing in Oregon after being washed away by the devastating 2011 tsunami in Japan. In the Tacoma News Tribune, I explain why we should be concerned about the tsunami debris heading our way and what we can do:

While it is still too soon to know exactly how big a problem this debris will be for U.S. shores, the International Pacific Research Center estimates that 5 percent or less of the approximately 1.5 million tons of debris in the Pacific Ocean could make landfall.

To prepare for what might come, we should prioritize baseline monitoring, modeling and outreach in communities. Ocean Conservancy has been working closely with the Obama administration, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as they ramp up response efforts.

In addition to monitoring and volunteer cleanups, we also should be advocating for the resources that may be needed to deal with the aftermath of a disaster of this magnitude.

While natural disasters are inevitable, trash choking our ocean is not. Read the full story here.

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