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Five Years After Tsunami: Eyes on Oregon Coast Still Needed

Published 03/14/2016 at 6:51 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Oregon Coast) - For the past five years, since the tsunami hit Japan, CoastWatch volunteers and visitors to the Oregon coast have kept watchful eyes on the debris washing up on these beaches. That group says it is time again to visit the sands and look for objects of interest to scientists – and maybe the Japanese people themselves. (Photo: suspicious mussels found on what appears to tsunami debris, courtesy Fawn Custer).

Fawn Custer is volunteer coordinator with CoastWatch, one of at least three groups regularly keeping an eye on this shoreline for any issue. Now, Custer and others are asking for even more eyes.

“The past two months, massive amounts of marine debris have been washing up on our beaches again,” Custer said. “Included in the debris, there are indications of tsunami debris.”

Custer said you can help by joining CoastWatch, Surfrider or SOLVE, or join a NOAA marine debris team close to you and help them make monthly surveys.

The monthly surveys cover the same 100m of beach, and are conducted about the same time each month with a little variation due to tides and extreme weather. Researchers hope to answer various questions about the currents and the impact of the debris are using the data collected.

“We are especially interested in any debris that may have live organisms attached,” Custer said.

Some slightly disconcerting finds lately included:

At Seal Rock, quite a few plastic bottles were found. Via UPC and / or the writing they were identified to be from China and Korea.

A home school class of girls 7-10 years old and accompanying three adults collected a large amount of plastic debris and what appeared to be a host of household items.

On that same afternoon in mid February, during the monthly NOAA marine debris monitoring at Arch Cape, a truly alarming crate was found. It was covered in mussels which appear to be Asian, although Custer said a final determination will still be made Dr. John Chapman with the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. If so, it indicates that this item was in the water when the tsunami hit and has been in the ocean for at least five years.

For more information on volunteering or even making periodic reports, or joining Oregon Marine Debris Team, Surfrider or CoastWatch, contact CoastWatch volunteer coordinator, Fawn Custer at 541.270.0027 or by email at Where to stay in this area - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours

Above: photo courtesy Fawn Custer. Asian bottles found in Seal Rock. Below, more about the Oregon coast in general.

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A famous little family eatery where the seafood practically gets shuffled from the sea straight into your mouth. Soups and salads include many seafood specialties, including cioppino, chowders, crab Louie and cheese breads. Fish 'n' chips come w/ various fish. Seafood sandwiches with shrimp, tuna or crab, as well as burgers. Dinners like pan fried oysters, fillets of salmon or halibut, saut�ed scallops.
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