Four years after a massive tsunami hit the coast of Japan, way back in 2011, debris is still washing up on Washington’s shores. Not only that, but it turns out that it’s also bringing an invasive species with it from across the Pacific Ocean.
While examining the debris, wildlife officials found an invasive species of parasites that have hitched a ride all the way from the other side of the Pacific Ocean and pose a great environmental threat.
This isn’t the first time such a thing has happened in recent memory either. Yet another barnacle covered Japanese boat has recently managed to find itself with the aquatic invasive-species unit of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The boat, the third (3rd) to reach the state Department of Fish and Wildlife this year, was roughly 25 feet long and was recovered off a remote shore near La Push, Clallam County.
The researchers have every intention of removing the invasive marina debris from the boat and preventing it from spreading even further, potentially damaging the local ecosystem beyond repair.
Allen Pleus, project coordinator, and Nancy Franco, aquatic invasive-species unit technician, both took a look the boat’s crevices this past Thursday in search of biological samples and they intended to collect and then send to various experts from around the country for further analysis.
Allen Pleus gave a statement stressing that almost 40 other objects with invasive parasite species made their way to his unit just last year. He said that they attach themselves to everything, from boats, to docks, to tires, to refrigerators.
Some debris is even populated by dozens of different species of invasive parasite species, and some of them are even thriving in their new environment, despite having attached themselves to inanimate objects that should not provide them with too much comfort under normal circumstances.
Allen Pleus explained that “These become their own ecosystems in the ocean. What’s not natural is that they’re on man-made objects that don’t disintegrate”.
For those who don’t remember, or simply missed the news, the four year old tsunami was the result of a 9.0-magnitude earthquake off of the coast of Japan that took place on March 11, 2011. It still remains the most powerful earthquake to have ever hit Japan in recorded history, and one of the strongest ever encountered.
The event gave birth to a massive tsunami that destroyed a great deal of Japan’s northern coast, while also causing meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. It was a tragic occurrence that according to the Japanese government killed almost 16.000 people. The report further states that the tsunami swept roughly 5 million tons of debris out to sea.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration informs that much of the debris is still dispersed north of Hawaii and east of Midway Atoll.
Image Source: latimes.com