A dock measuring over 21 meters (70 feet) long that was swept away from a from a fishing port in northern Japan by last year’s tsunami has washed ashore on a beach in the state of Oregon, U.S. A plaque written in Japanese on the dock identified it as coming from the port of Misawa, in Aomori Prefecture. It is actually one of four that went missing last year, however it is unknown what happened to the other three.
This is the latest instance of interesting debris making its way thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean, starting with a young student’s soccer ball turning up in Alaska, and just previously, the headline-making Harley-Davidson motorcycle that was found on a beach in British Columbia, Canada, inside a cargo container. Hirofumi Murabayashi, the Deputy Consul in Portland, Oregon, said he spoke to official in Aomori Prefecture, and they stated that they did not wish to have the dock returned. An Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation representative, Chris Havel, said that the concrete dock was first noticed on Monday, floating offshore, but it was mistaken for a barge. It washed ashore on Tuesday, in Agate Beach, north of Newport on central Oregon’s coast. Havel said that debris like this is significant because it’s not just from Japan, but the tsunami itself.
There was initially concerns of radiation, but a quick check came up negative, showing the dock to be safe. Locals from the coastal town say that once the news got out about the large piece of debris, there have been swarms of traffic and people wanting to see it. One local business owner says that he often takes walks on the beach and has seen small pieces of debris with Japanese writing, but never expected to see something like this.
Representatives from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have been collecting samples of the barnacles, shellfish, and algae that remain clinging to the dock. The state’s park department has been tasked with the dock’s removal, but it hasn’t been decided if it will be towed off the beach by boat and floated somewhere for disposal, or if it would just be cut up into smaller pieces on the beach and then removed. Things like the dock and previously mentioned Harley-Davidson motorcycle are considered as fast-moving pieces of debris, as the majority of it swept away from the March 2011 tsunami is not expected to arrive until next winter.