Invasive Species Arrive in Oregon on Tsunami Dock (Video)


The March 11, 2011, tsunami and earthquake that left at least 15,000 dead in Japan is likely to pose hazards to wildlife and the environment of the Pacific coast for at least the next two years if not longer. A 20-meter (about 65 feet) dock washed up at Agate Beach in Newport, Oregon on June 5, after floating more than 7,000 kilometers (about 4,350 miles) from northwestern Japan’s port of Misawa.

Initially, some residents of Newport suggested using the dock to replace wooden docks washed out in a winter storm. But workers from the Ballard Diving and Salvage company will be cutting up the huge structure into five pieces. While one small piece will be used in a memorial to those who died in the tsunami, most of the dock must be disposed to protect against the possible spread of invasive animal and plant species.

When scientists from Oregon State University examined the 150-ton dock, they found that more than 90 different species of seaweed, molluscs and other marine organisms had survived for a 15-month trans-oceanic journey. Three species in particular could colonize local areas and threaten native wildlife:

  • the Northern Pacific seastar, which has a huge appetite and can prey on native species; its larvae can be transported to new locations via the ballast of ships so it is particularly difficult to eliminate.
  • the Japanese shore crab which, because it reproduces several times a year, can quickly outnumber native crabs; it also feeds on the larvae of lobsters and has posed a threat to ecosystems on the east coast.
  • Wakame kelp, which is on the list of the 100 worst invasive species around the world as it can grow in large beds blocking out sunlight for other organisms and interfere with the operation of “docks, ship hulls, nets, fishing gear, moorings, ropes.”

As the Guardian notes, Oregon already spends about $400 million each year to prevent invasive land and aquatic species.

The Japanese government has estimated that about 5 million tons of debris was washed into the ocean by the tsunami and that about 70 percent sunk into the ocean. But about 1.5 million tons are still floating and, as evidenced by the dock, posing environmental hazards whose effects are only beginning to be felt.

Related Care2 Coverage

Fukushima Beach Reopens Amid Nuclear Protests

Japanese Tsunami Debris Washes Up On Canadian Beach

Tsunami Wreckage Headed For Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Image from a screenshot of a video uploaded by AUTHORDAVIDSIMONSON via YouTube


Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll5 years ago

as if this hasn't happened naturally in the past million years? shit happens, make the best of it. Wakame can be harvested very easily for food....i LOVE wakame.

Maria D'Oporto
Past Member 5 years ago

I am not a bilogist and I understand how the cicle works, the natural events are ok and is part of life but artificial stuff is not natural and it affects in a huge way the natural events, humans had been acelerating natural process like climate change, that naturally ocurrs but in this moment humanity is pushing the natural cycles to the limit and making all going in acelerated time, just look at the extintions of animals, process that occurred in millions of years, are hapenning in just decades and many animals are now extinct, because of all kind causes less natural events. Forest devastation and the disruption of the shores made by docks are not natural so the processes they cause aren't natural at all.

Maria D'Oporto
Past Member 5 years ago

Docks are not natural so how can we say, leave it alone? Guess to mantain balance they shoudl take precautions.

Marie Therese Hanulak

Leave it alone. That is how this planet functions. Humans can't control everything though they sure try.

Jane R.
Jane R5 years ago

Some of the animal and plant species have probably already been dislodged from the dock. I think it's a good idea though to destroy the thing, and asap!

Elizabeth Foster
Elizabeth Foster5 years ago

Has anyone thought that this is how it happens naturally? I am a biologist so I am not talking out of my a**. I understand how this stuff works. The animals were brought here by a natural event on natural currents. If they didn't come in on a dock it would have been seaweed or natural flotsam and jetsam and we wouldn't even be reading this story. If you follow the logic that it wasn't here before then you have to kill everything that is on every island. Those animals got there by natural means (in most cases). They could have displaced whatever was there before. It is the way of nature.

Many of you are thinking about things that humans have introduced on purpose without understanding how things would work or were brought here by human carelessness. You are jumping to worst case scenario. Lantana was introduced here in Texas and is now considered native. It causes no harm.

Nature brought these things here. Is it our place to play God and meddle?

The only cases I can justify removing invasives is in the case where they were brought to an area by us, either on purpose or through carelessnes, and they are causing mass extinctions. Examples, lionfish, snakes, rats, cats and pigs

Again Mother Nature brought them here not us.

Ken W.
Ken W5 years ago

This is not good burn the damm thing don`t just look it and do nothing about it !!

Georgia Armstrong
Georgia a5 years ago

DESTROY IT ALL. We don't need anything else like killer bees or kudzu in the US. We spend enough money attempting to eradicate things already brought over here. We surely don't need more problems on these shores since we're so darned broke.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L5 years ago

A tsunami can't be prevent, as far as I know but nuclear debris can. No more nuclear plants anywhere.

Jonjon Hoy
Jonjon Hoy5 years ago

If radiation was still an issue with this dock, they would of done something with it by now. I can imagine the trash clean up will be worse than a massive oil spill when it reaches the whole coastline of the Eastern Seaboard.