April 10, 2015
Media Contact: Chris Havel, Director's Office, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Cell: 503-931-2590
Waldport OR - A chunk of a fiberglass boat 25-30' long was spotted off the Oregon shore west of Ona Beach in Lincoln County around 9:30 a.m. April 9, 2015. The debris appears to be half to two-thirds of a larger vessel, possibly damaged and set adrift during the earthquake and tsunami that struck the east coast of Japan in 2011. As of 5 p.m. April 9, the debris was a few miles offshore. A team of Oregon state agencies are coordinating to retrieve the object in the next 24 hours before it reaches land.
Biologists with the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center inspected the low-floating object and, after consulting with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, determined the organisms still attached posed a low threat to the Oregon coast ecosystem. They did find several live specimens of a variety of yellowtail jack fish found in the coastal waters of Japan.
Using funds set aside for responding to tsunami debris, Riverbend Marine Services of Newport will attempt to retrieve the debris today and tow it to the Port of Newport, where port officials immediately offered their cooperation to temporarily store it. The debris will eventually be removed from water, studied by OSU researchers, then dismantled and disposed of in a local landfill. The surviving fish will be removed and delivered into the care of the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provided mapping to predict the location of the object based on sightings. The U.S. Coast Guard broadcast a notice to boaters, and marked it with a life ring, and placed a data-transmitting buoy to help track the debris.
Agencies coordinating on this response include the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State Marine Board, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Office of Emergency Management, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Department of State Lands, Oregon State University, Oregon State Police, Office of the Governor, U.S. Coast Guard, and NOAA.
Beach visitors and marine boaters are reminded to be on the lookout for any debris floating at sea. In an emergency, call 911. For less urgent reports, call 211 from any coastal county.