Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dock of the bay

Photo courtesy WA State Dept. of Ecology
​With apologies to Otis Redding, it seems unlikely anyone will be sittin’ on this dock of the bay anytime soon. It’s way out in a remote section of Olympic National Park, and the specific site is currently closed to public entry. This particular dock actually comes from Japan: It’s a big hunk of debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan, and it floated across the Pacific and washed ashore late last year.
State and federal officials are on the case. They agreed in a conference call Jan. 7 that the derelict dock should be removed to protect both the park and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.
The dock was spotted on the beach on Dec. 18 by a Coast Guard helicopter crew. After repeated attempts in the rugged terrain, a ground crew reached the dock Dec. 21, affixed a tracking beacon and collected samples of marine organisms attached to the structure. Later analysis determined that 30 to 50 of the plant and animal species sampled, including seaweed, mussels and barnacles, are native to Japan but not found in the wild in the United States.
Gov. Gregoire and legislators took steps last summer to prepare for tsunami debris washing ashore. In July, the governor released $500,000 in emergency funds to deal with the issue. The federal government announced it would grant up to $50,000 to each of the five Pacific coastal states to help out.