Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Dock

A few weeks back I wrote this blog post about how difficult and anxiety-provoking trying to manage the potential risk associated with marine debris from the Tohoku tsunami has been. Well, that post, as well as some of my other work in this area, was focused on what we sort of consider the "garden variety" debris... the small, mostly untrackable, items that we worry will end up piled on beaches. Thus far there haven't really been any reports of huge amounts of debris finding its way to Washington shore's (I will be presenting more on this on Tuesday).

However, what has definitely turned out to be a real concern are invasive species associated with large items that were in the water at the time of the tsunami in Japan. While landfall of this particular class of large item is relatively rare, it has emerged as a key risk associated with the tsunami debris. Today I had the chance to assist a multi-agency team responding to a large section of dock that made landfall on a remote beach in Olympic National Park. The focus today, as it has been in the days since the dock turned up, was on assessing and neutralizing the threat of invasive species from Japan recruiting to local waters. For a variety of reasons it appears that the risk associated with this dock section is less than from the identical section that washed up in Oregon in June 2012...but a full effort is still being made to deal with those species that hitched a ride across the ocean. A few pictures from today:

today's crew at the tail end of the ~2 mile bushwhack to get down to the beach

finally on the beach...1.5 miles to go

on the final approach...the dock in the distance

a pano of the dock and adjacent shoreline and off-shore. Getting this thing off the beach is going to be a CHORE...the coastal zone is choked with reefs.

and finally, even though no distinguishing markings were found on this section, my take after checking out the video below is that it sure does look a whole lot like the section that washed up in Oregon, and the one that was spotted off of Hawaii...

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