“In our opinion, it is part of the tsunami debris,” said Rick Boatner, ODF&W invasive species wildlife integrity coordinator Tuesday afternoon. “And we believe the boat was a support vessel for a commercial fishing boat, based on the hull design.”
John Chapman, a research scientist at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, who led the work on the invasive species research on the dock that washed ashore near here on June 5, 2012, also believes the boat is more debris from the March 2011 tsunami that followed the magnitude-9 earthquake that struck near Honshu.
“It looks like a Japanese boat, the blue color, the little keels on the bottom,” said Chapman. “It looks like other wrecks we’ve seen. And it has a lot of marine organisms, a lot of open ocean things, on it.”
Biologists with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODF&W) visited the site Tuesday afternoon to sample marine organisms on the boat.
“Ninety-nine percent of the vessel is covered in gooseneck barnacle,” said Boatner. “That’s an open ocean barnacle. It’s fairly common. We found another type of mussel called a Mediterranean mussel. We’ve still got to identify that one to the species. Right now that’s what we think it is, but we’re not positive. That would not be a native species to Oregon.”
The boat is about 30 feet long, and partially buried, Boatner said.
Wayne Christianson happened upon the boat Tuesday morning, said his son Bennett Christianson.
“It seems it had been out at sea for some time,” he said. “I’m assuming it came over quite a distance. We weren’t able to find any markings or identifications on it, but this is definitely a significant piece.”
It may be the same boat that was reported floating about 2.5 miles offshore of Yaquina Head on Friday night. Lincoln County Commissioner Terry Thompson got a call about the boat and contacted Chapman.
“I called the Coast Guard right then and the lady who answered the phone didn’t know anything,” Chapman said. “She said they thought the boat was not tsunami debris. It sure looks like tsunami debris to me. We haven’t seen boats like this before.”
Thompson also immediately assumed it was tsunami debris, he said.
“We don’t lose boats on this coast,” said Thompson, a lifelong fisherman. “We just don’t.”
Chapman also planned to visit the beached vessel and take samples off the boat to try to identify the marine organisms and to see if there are any invasive species clinging to it.
“We’ve been looking at this debris so far and what we are finding is species that occur on both sides (of the ocean),” he said. He added that when the first debris began showing up, “there were so many species easy to find only from Japan. Now, we’re finding things from both sides. That does not mean it’s OK, it just means it’s not so easy to tell if these are harmless organisms or things from Japan. The general question from the public is is this a dangerous thing? We try to address that.”
Oregon Parks and Recreation will lead the effort to remove the boat from the beach, Boatner said.
“They will be coming out in the next day or two and excavating the boat and removing it.”
Courtesy of www.oregonlive.com