A portion of a fiberglass boat 25 feet long was recently seen drifting in the waters off Seal Rock in Oregon and is believed to have come from Japan as a remnant of the deadly tsunami that hit the country in 2011.
The debris was first reported on Thursday morning and spotted drifting some miles offshore by evening. Before the fiberglass chunk reaches land, state agencies in Oregon have teamed up to retrieve it.
Chris Havel from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department said biologists have examined the debris and, after a consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Department of the state, decided that the organisms found inside the boat chunk are not major threats to the ecosystem of the Oregon coast.
Once the debris is taken to the Port of Newport to be temporarily stored, it will be taken apart for further study. When all assessments are done, it is headed to a landfill. The live yellowtail jack fish discovered inside the debris, however, will be taken to the Oregon Coast Aquarium for keeping.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provided a map for predicting the location of the debris based on where it was sighted. The U.S. Coast Guard also assisted by broadcasting a notice to boaters, and marking the debris with a life ring. A data transmitting buoy was also placed with the boat chunk to help keep track of its movements.
Other agencies involved in the effort include the Oregon State Marine Board, Office of Emergency Management, Department of State Lands, Department of Environmental Quality, State Police, Office of the Governor and Oregon State University.
While it may be one of the largest debris believed to have come from Japan, the boat chunk will not be the last of them. Boaters and beach visitors are advised to be on the lookout for debris floating in the water, most especially if they are of sizable proportions.
Last spring, scientists keeping track of incoming debris from Japan were taken aback when about 30 fishing vessels washed ashore along the Pacific Northwestern coast. The debris alone could be easily managed, but what comes along for the ride from Asia is what concerns scientists more.
According to John Chapman, a specialist on marine invasive species from the Hatfield Marine Science Center at the OSU, blue mussels were discovered on every boat that washed ashore then, with about 200 different species already documented from tsunami debris on the overall.
Photo: NOAA Marine Debris Program | Flickr