Invasive Species Hitch Ride on Tsunami

Tsunami debris (image via coastalcare.org).

Tsunami debris (image via coastalcare.org).

     Debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan continues to reach U.S. shores, carrying with it invasive species. According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, a 25-foot barnacle-encrusted Japanese vessel was the latest possible arrival, found on a remote shoreline near La Push in Clallam County. Though it is suspected to be from the 2011 tsunami, registration numbers are required to verify the vessel as tsunami-debris. 

     The invasive species unit has handled nearly 40 projects in the last year, including tsunami-borne tires, refrigerators, boats and sections of docks, which, surprisingly, have harbored some non-native fish.  One such fish, the tropical striped beakfish, was picked up by a boat passing Hawaii; landing in the Pacific Northwest, five of the tropical fish were able to survive in the considerable cooler temperatures. One beakfish remains alive, being studied in an aquarium.  

     According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the majority of the debris from the tsunami can be found in waters north of Hawaii and east of Midway Atoll.