Tsunami sent Japanese sea creatures to U.S. beaches, on plastics

All that plastic debris that floated onto American beaches after Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami carried some unwelcome baggage: non-native sea creatures.

Nearly 300 species of marine animals, clinging to man-made tsunami debris, arrived — alive — on shorelines in northern California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii between 2012 and 2017, according to a research team led by Oregon State University scientists with genetic analysis by Jonathan Geller of CSU’s Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.  Click on the following two links to access  the full story.

“We have created a new mechanism for species to disperse around the world,” said Geller, whose work confirmed the identities of the intruders. 

After studying the accretions of rubble and organisms, Ruiz suggests that the huge amount of plastic debris in the ocean, including material mobilized by the tsunami, made the rafts sturdy enough to withstand the long trip.


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