It’s no floating garbage patch, but a 165-ton fishing dock is certainly a shocking thing to observe rolling in with the waves. The concrete and steel dock washed ashore Tuesday at Oregon’s Agate Beach, a hulking monstrosity the size of a train car measuring 66 feet long. A small plaque on the dock gave the name of the manufacturer in Tokyo, who helped Oregon officials trace the docks to the fishing town of Misawa, in northern Japan. Four docks were ripped from the town’s shoreline during the March 2011 tsunami, and before Tuesday, only one had resurfaced.
The dock, once used to load fish onto trucks in the Japanese port town, has been repurposed as something of a tourist attraction, with baffled beachgoers clamoring to take photos of it. Oregon officials are still deciding how to dispose of the dock, which is covered in gobs of algae and sea creatures that hitched a trans-Pacific ride. All that foreign marine life could pose a threat to North American flora and fauna, so scientists are determining how best to get rid of the creatures before scrapping the dock – its original owners say they don’t want it returned.
The dock is just one of several pieces of flotsam to cross the Pacific Ocean in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that battered Japan’s eastern coast. An estimated 5 million tons of debris was swept out to sea, and while most of that sank, a significant proportion is expected to wash up on the shores of North America this year.
See the other lost objects that survived the 5,000-mile ocean haul, including a Harley and a soccer ball.