Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Japanese dock washes ashore near Agate Beach near Newport

Ocean shore visitors just north of Newport, Ore., reported seeing a loose dock floating offshore near Agate Beach on Monday. The object has since washed ashore and is sitting at the high tide line.

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department staff responded to the site, where on Tuesday morning they discovered a metal placard bearing Japanese writing attached to the dock. The Japanese consulate later confirmed that it was debris from the March, 2011 tsunami in Japan.

The dock itself is very large and heavy: 7' tall, 19' wide and 66' long. It is made primarily of concrete and metal, but is clearly designed to float. Because of its size and the chance it could continue to settle or be moved by wave action, state park staff are posting warning tape and signs instructing the public to stay off the structure.

The dock is covered with marine organisms. Some are native, but others are specific to the waters of Japan. As a precaution against possible invasive species, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is coordinating a group of volunteers to remove the organisms from the dock starting Thursday morning, June 7, 2012. The salt water-dependent organisms will be removed from the beach. Among the exotic species are different kinds of mussels, barnacles and marine algaes. One invasive marine algae in particular -- Undaria pinnatifida, commonly called wakame -- is present on the structure.

State park staff, in cooperation with other authorities, are discussing options to remove the object from the beach. Agate Beach remains open ... just stay off the dock.

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