Rafting the Pacific

For the first time, scientists were able to observe directly the rafting of diverse living communities of coastal organisms from one continent to another. This is the longest documented transoceanic survival and dispersal of coastal species by rafting. Invertebrates including mollusks, crustaceans and annelids (worms) are a significant part of the debris fauna.

Since 2012, Japanese debris from this event has landed on coastlines from Midway to Hawaii, and from south-central Alaska down the B.C. coast to central California. Remarkably, nearly six years later, debris continues to arrive on the west coast of North America, bringing with it more non-native, novel, shallow-water species. As much of the debris comprised non-biodegradable anthropogenic (human-made) materials, objects can persist on the ocean for longer periods than natural rafts.  Click on the following sentence to access the full story.

Collaborative research on the Japanese tsunami material has resulted in numerous peer-reviewed scientific publications, including an upcoming special issue of the journal Aquatic Invasions that presents detailed treatments of the taxonomy and systematics of many of the Japan-debris invertebrate and fish groups.

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