Images: http://www.livescience.com/20817-images ... -dock.html
Debris floating around the ocean and coming to a new place isn't an unknown phenomenon. In this case, a dock, ripped forcibly from the shore of a Japanese town during the tsunami of 2011, ended up floating (perhaps along the north Pacific gyre?) to its resting place on a beach in Oregon. In addition to being a monument to the far-flung effects of such devastating loss of life and well-being, it was a vessel to life from the Japanese shore, life which survived the precarious 14-month journey. Ark or trojan horse, the article title taunts. Boon to the life on it, or a threat to the ecosystem around it.
Last February, I was only a couple of miles away from the beach (Agate Beach) where it landed, visiting Newport for the day. The dock must have crashed near the lighthouse that appeared close to the beach where I stood, though it was miles distant. While there, I visited went to the Rogue brewery and, more relevant to the story, the Hatfield Marine Science Center. The Oregon Coast Aquarium is nearby, and certainly has more in water volume and biomass, but the Hatfield Marine Science Center has a visitor's center staffed by experts and students, with exhibits that are both interesting and cool. (Escaping octopus, here's a shout out!) There was a lot about preserving the ecosystem of the coast, of the various vectors that can affect it (pollution, invasive species, so on). There was also a lot about the diversity of the ecosystem, the life that inhabit it and make it a system of life. They were ready for a lot. So I looked them up.
And it turns out they had something to say about it.
(Glossed fouling communities for convenience.)http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2012/jun/floating-dock-japan-carries-potential-invasive-species wrote:“This float is an island unlike any transoceanic debris we have ever seen,” said John Chapman, an OSU marine invasive species specialist. “Drifting boats lack such dense fouling communities, and few of these species are already on this coast. Nearly all of the species we’ve looked at were established on the float before the tsunami; few came after it was at sea.”
What some of the commenters on the NPR article missed, and what I certainly did, was how unique a dock is. It already had much of that life on it, life which depends on the dock for an ecosystem. The ships - they don't bring this sort of life across, at least not so densely.
Anyway, there's a lot to this story. It's huge in implications, whether you want to focus on the dock as an ecosystem, on the effects on other ecosystems, on the continuing effects of the tsunami, on ocean currents - what do you find interesting about it?