Japanese Tsunami Debris Hits Alaska

Tsunami debris on Montague Island in Alaska

Debris from the March 11, 2011 tsunami has been washing ashore in bits and pieces for a while now, but this week, the amount of debris hitting Alaska has picked up significantly. Remote Montague Island looks like a landfill.

Montague Island is an uninhabited island about 115 miles southeast of Anchorage, Alaska.

Large scale marine debris cleanups take some time to plan and fund. We’ve known this debris was headed for the coast for some time, so the plans are ready. The Marine Conservation Alliance Foundation is working with the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies to clean up the first wave of tsunami debris.

Marine debris washes ashore in Alaska continuously and the Marine Conservation Alliance Foundation funds an annual cleanup, but this year, the amount of debris is much more.

The debris consists of pieces of homes, businesses, and other structures that were on the island of Japan in the path of the tsunami. Styrofoam, wood framing for buildings, buoys, and household items are piling up. Some of the debris is toxic to humans and animals, but some carries other dangers to wildlife. Seabirds and other marine animals eat chunks of styrofoam and die. Plastic can wrap around the necks of swimming animals.

This video shows some of the debris on the side of the island facing away from Japan.

Video courtesy CNN. Image screenshot from video.

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Author: Heather Carr

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