Survey ship finds more Japanese debris near Columbia River

Survey ship finds more Japanese debris near Columbia River
Floats with Japanese writing on them found by a NOAA crew near the mouth of the Columbia River. (Photo courtesy NOAA)

SEATTLE (AP) — A ship conducting a fisheries survey for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found a half-dozen floats with Japanese writing on them off the coast near the mouth of the Columbia River.

A spokeswoman for the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Vicky Krikelas, says the floats may be debris from the Japanese tsunami, although officials from tethe NOAA Marine Debris program have not yet confirmed that.

They were found this week about 22 miles off Cape Disappointment by NOAA scientists on a chartered fishing vessel conducting a survey of bottom fish.

A number of other floats believed to have been washed away by the tsunami have been found in recent months on Washington beaches. The floats were used by fishermen and oyster farms.

The find also comes a few days after a large Japanese dock ripped loose by the tsunami washed ashore near Newport, Ore., about 130 miles to the south.

The dock was covered in hundreds of millions of individual plant and animal organisms, many of which were potentially invasive species. State scientists and volunteers spent Thursday cleaning off the dock and sterilizing it with torches.