Debris from Japan's tsunami last year washes up on the coast of Washington state more than 4,000 miles away
20:12 GMT, 22 December 2012
Hiking over primitive coastal trails, a team reached a dock that apparently floated from Japan after last year's tsunami and just washed ashore on a Washington beach, and an official said the group found Japanese writing inside the structure.
The team of tsunami debris experts is trying to confirm that the dock is from Japan and drifted for more than a year before winding up on one of the most remote beaches on the U.S. West Coast.
The team did not find an identifying plaque like the one found on a dock that washed ashore last June at Newport, Ore., said Kim Schmanke, a spokeswoman for the state Ecology Department. That dock was confirmed as debris from the March 2011 Japanese tsunami.
Ashore: It appears this dock, that washed ashore on a Washington beach near Forks on Tuesday, traveled more than 4,000 miles away after the 2011 Japanese tsunami
Found: Members of the Washington tsunami debris experts team inspect a dock on Friday that apparently floated from Japan
The writing and fresh photos are being shared with the Japanese
consulate in an effort to confirm this dock as tsunami debris, the
The debris team took live samples of potentially invasive species for
lab analysis, inspected five dock surfaces and attached a tracking
beacon. The crew also took samples to check for any radioactivity,
although state Health Department experts consider that highly unlikely,
The dock was spotted on Tuesday by the Coast Guard on Washington's rugged
Olympic Peninsula. The site is about five miles from the nearest road.
On Thursday, a swollen stream blocked the debris team from reaching the
The Washington dock is believed to be similar to the 165-ton concrete
and steel dock that washed ashore at Newport. Looking like a railroad
boxcar, it was 66 feet long, 19 feet wide and 7 feet high. A plaque
identified it as one of four owned by Aomori Prefecture that broke loose
from the port of Misawa during the tsunami.
Far away: This 70-foot-long dock with Japanese lettering that washed ashore on Agate Beach in Newport, Ore in June
Buoys, foam and other debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami were strewn about on Kayak Island, Alaska in July (left). In April, a Harley-Davidson motorbike (right) washed up on Graham Island, Western Canada.
Volunteers scraped off 2 tons of seaweed and creatures that were
clinging to the Newport dock. Among them were four species – a seaweed, a
sea star, a mussel and a shore crab – that are native to Japan and have
established themselves as invasive species elsewhere, said Caren Braby,
manager of marine resources for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Officials won't know for a couple years whether any of them escaped to
get a foothold in Oregon, she said. The scrapings were buried above the
high water line. The dock was sterilized with torches, then cut up and
removed last summer.
Photos taken on Friday will be used to help develop a plan to remove the
latest dock from the Washington beach, Schmanke said. No schedule has
been set for removal.
As of Dec. 13, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had
received 1,432 debris reports, of which 17 have been confirmed as