A scientist who examined the dock that recently washed ashore on Washington's Olympic Peninsula says it looks just like the one that came ashore on a central Oregon beach last summer, suggesting it also is a piece of tsunami debris from Japan.
John Chapman, an assistant professor of fisheries at Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center, said Friday the Washington dock found earlier this month has the same dimensions and configuration as the one found near Newport, Ore. The Oregon dock broke loose from a Japanese fishing port in 2011.
"It was identical so far as we could tell," said Chapman, who was one of the eight people who hiked through old growth forest and crossed a rain-swollen creek on Dec. 21 to examine the dock. "It has the same set of cleats. It has the same rollers, the same shape, dimensions, the same bumper configuration."
But there was no commemorative plaque on the dock found in Washington, like the one in Oregon had, to identify where it came from, he said. A stainless steel plaque identified it as one of four owned by Aomori Prefecture that broke loose form the port of Misawa during the March 2011 tsunami.
Efforts to trace and confirm the origin of the Washington dock have not yet been successful. The Coast Guard spotted it Dec. 18 on a remote stretch of wilderness beach on the northwestern tip of Washington protected by the Olympic National Park.
The Washington Ecology Department said nearly 30 species found on the dock have been identified, and none of them poses a high risk of becoming invasive.