Almost a year after the March 2011 magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami that struck near the city of Honshu, Japan, tsunami debris continues to wash ashore on the Oregon and Washington coasts, this time once again near Gleneden Beach, Oregon.
Rick Boatner, Invasive Species Wildlife Integrity Coordinator with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, stated, “In our opinion, it is part of the tsunami debris, and we believe the boat was a support vessel for a commercial fishing boat, based on the hull design.”
John Chapman, a research scientist at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, who lead the work on the invasive species research on the dock that washed ashore near GlenedenBeach on June 5, 2012, also believes the boat is more debris from the tsunami triggered by the megaquake in Japan. The boat was about 30 feet long, and 99 percent of the vessel was covered in gooseneck barnacle. Mr. Chapman went on to say, “That’s an open ocean barnacle. It’s fairly common. We found another type of mussel called a Mediterranean mussel. We’ve still got to identify that one to the species. Right now that’s what we think it is, but we’re not positive. That would not be a native species to Oregon.”
Scientists at the Hatfield Marine Science Center have been looking at the tsunami debris that has washed ashore to date. They’re finding species that occur on both sides of the ocean. Mr. Chapman said when the first debris began showing up, “There were so many species easy to find only from Japan. Now, we’re finding things from both sides. That does not mean that it’s OK, it just means it’s not so easy to tell if these are harmless organisms or things from Japan. The general question from the public is, is this a dangerous thing? We try to address that.”