Massive Dock Washes Ashore Washington Coast; May Be Japanese Tsunami Debris

NOAA says a large dock, similar to the one that washed ashore Oregon earlier this year, has been spotted off the coast of Washington. It has not been confirmed whether the dock is a piece of tsunami debris from Japan.

Photo Courtesy: U.S. Coast Guard

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by Megan Mazurek

WASHINGTON - NOAA says a large dock, similar to the one that washed ashore Oregon earlier this year, has been spotted off the coast of Washington.

It has not been confirmed whether the dock is a piece of tsunami debris from Japan.

The dock was first spotted by fisherman aboard the fishing vessel Lady Nancy Friday. (12/14) After an extensive helicopter search, conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard Tuesday, the dock was spotted between LaPush and the mouth of the Hoh River in the Olympic National Park.

Federal and state agencies are working to reach the site by ground and evaluate the dock for potential invasive species and figure out its origins.

In June, a 66 foot dock from northeast Japan washed ashore Agate Beach, Ore., after being torn loose from a fishing port in Japan during the tsunami. Officials in Japan say it's 1 of 4 docks that washed away.

As of December 13, NOAA has received more than 1,400 official reports of marine debris; 17 of which have been confirmed to be from Japan.

Federal and Washington agencies are concerned about the safety of people encountering large objects in the ocean surf.

"Marine debris can be hazardous to navigation as well as to marine life and marine habitat if nets get wrapped around reefs or marine mammals," said Keeley Belva, NOAA spokesperson.

The government of Japan estimates the tsunami swept about 5 million tons of debris into the Pacific Ocean, of that, it predicts about 70 percent of it sank.

Alaskans should expect to see debris wash ashore and officials ask beach combers to take extra precaution and use common sense.

To report large marine debris items believed to be from the Japanese tsunami, email disasterdebris@noaa.gov.

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