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Oregon Coast Event Examines Debris Boats and Their Invasive Species

Published 05/15/2016 at 6:11 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Tsunami debris boat in Florence, Oregon coast

(Florence, Oregon) – There are still unsettling aspects to the aftermath of Japan's 2011 earthquake and the tsunami debris that is arriving on the Oregon coast. The region has seen an upsurge this year in everything from buoys to bottles. Sometimes these have found their way into the Pacific Gyre, where they swirled around for five years and then made their way to these shores.

Most worrisome, however, the region has seen seven boats or fragments of boats appear on Oregon beaches.

On Tuesday, May 17, Hatfield Marine Science Center researcher John Chapman appears in Florence, giving a talk with background information on this phenomenon, explaining what has been learned regarding the tsunami debris that continues to wash up on Oregon beaches.

Dr. Chapman speaks at 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 6) at the Lane Community College Florence branch (3149 Oak St.), Room 103. The talk, offered by the CoastWatch program of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, is free and open to the public (a $5 donation is suggested).

Tsunami debris can pose threats of unwelcome sea life guests, but especially dangerous are those with large pieces and cavities that could provide protected temporary habitat. These hold more of a risk of harboring non-native species that have survived the journey, and might prove invasive in this new territory.

Oregon coast watchdog group CoastWatch – which is putting on the talk - works closely with scientists who are studying these non-native species by reporting tsunami debris found on the shoreline and the presence of possible invasive organisms, and where possible actually carrying the material to the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

John Chapman, an invertebrate zoologist who studies aquatic biological invasions, collects tsunami debris and samples the organisms clinging to it to measure the abundance and diversity of these non-native species. He will discuss the scientific research that has been done by himself and others on tsunami debris since 2012.

He and CoastWatch Volunteer Coordinator Fawn Custer will also provide information on how CoastWatchers and others can assist by scouting for and reporting on potential tsunami debris.

For more information about the event, or about CoastWatch and its citizen science activities, contact Fawn Custer at (541) 270-0027, fawn@oregonshores.org. Where to stay for this event - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour









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