From: Yale Environment 360
Published September 28, 2017 05:44 PM

Hundreds of Species Hitched a Ride Across the Pacific Aboard 2011 Tsunami Debris

When a magnitude 9 earthquake shook the western Pacific Ocean floor and sent a tsunami crashing into Japan in 2011, millions of pieces of debris — from docks and fishing boats to plastic pollution — were swept out to sea. Now, a new studyfinds that nearly 300 species hitchhiked aboard that debris across the Pacific and were scattered along the west coast of North America.

The findings, published in the journal Science, conclude that 268 species of macro- and micro-invertebrates, two fish species, and 19 species of microscopic organisms called protists made their way across the Pacific in what the scientists called a “megarafting” event. They included barnacles, mussels, limpets, the Japanese barred knifejaw fish, and Japanese shipworm. The study was led by marine scientist James Carlton of Williams College.

Continue reading at Yale Environment 360

Image: A Japanese buoy covered with Crassostrea gigas, a type of oyster, found floating offshore in Alsea Bay, Oregon. 

CREDIT: JAMES T. CARLTON

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