GLENEDEN BEACH, Ore. – Experts believe a 30-foot fishing boat that washed up along the Oregon Coast Tuesday likely came all the way from Japan, pushed across the ocean by the 2011 tsunami.
Biologists Steve Rumrill and Justin Ainsworth, with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, inspected the boat on Gleneden Beach. They said the hull was covered with barnacles from the open ocean and Japan.
“This vessel does have Japanese acorn barnacles and blue mussels and probably a whole series of other microscopic species and more cryptic species,” Rumrill said. “It [the boat] had an unusual design, which appeared to be for some type of commercial fishing or aquaculture activity.”
The fiberglass hull also had a large YAMAHA sticker and a sign written in Japanese. Experts said while the boat resembles debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan, the exact origin of this object has not yet been determined.
Scientists at Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center will evaluate the samples. They said it would take at least a month before organisms on the boat can be positively identified.
Biologists said the debris posed a moderate HazMat risk associated with invasive species. They were concerned that the species would begin to multiply and hurt existing native organisms living along the coast.
Tuesday night, the high tide picked up the boat and the surf broke it apart, then moved it about 150 yards down the beach. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on Wednesday removed what remained of the vessel.
Anyone who finds additional ocean debris that they suspect may be linked to the Japan tsunami was urged to report it by calling 211, which connects to specially trained dispatchers.
(KGW reporter Pat Dooris contributed to this report.)