NEWPORT, Ore. — Dislodged by disaster, a Japanese dock travels thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean and is now part of a scientific scramble. Researchers returned to Agate Beach Thursday morning to carefully clean the dock.
Wednesday, the dock was covered with invasive species native to Japan latching on, but Thursday they were all taken off.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife crews say they removed approximately two tons of invasive species.
First they scraped the sides and even top of the dock, and then they burned off what was remaining.
“Burning it will take care of the small things that we couldn’t get into the bag. There’s small, little crustaceans that live on it,” said ODFW Shellfish Biologist Justin Ainsworth.
After hours of work, ODFW transformed and removed the threat.
“The parts that had a lot of barnacles that were really stuck on there really good, those were hard to get off. The mussels came off in sheets, sometimes, the hardest part were some of the parts that were under the water,” Ainsworth said.
They say since the dock had been sitting along the Japanese Coast for years before the tsunami, several different kinds of species, including mussels, seaweed, clams and sea stars made it their home.
Those native Japanese species can be harmful to the Oregon Coast and needed to be removed immediately.
“They may out-compete some of our native mussels or seaweeds if they became established and became viable populations. Then their protamine is spread up and down the coastline, and we don’t know necessarily what those impacts would be, but we took the precautionary approach and physically removed that threat,” said Shellfish Program Leader Steven Rumrill with the ODFW Marine Resources Program.
One of their biggest concerns was a seaweed known as Undaria.
“That’s a species that has colonized San Diego, just made the jump into San Francisco, and was on our watch list,” Rumrill said.
The invasive species were bagged up, deposited and buried further inland.
Marine resources crews say they were surprised by the magnitude of the debris that washed ashore, but they expected invasive species to tag along.
Now they say they have somewhat of an idea what to expect when and if more debris arrives.
As for the dock itself, Oregon Parks and Recreation crews are still deciding if they’ll wait for the tide to rise, pull it out to sea to try to salvage it or if they’ll demolish it there on the beach.