On March 11, 2011, a tsunami off the coast of Japan dislocated an estimated five million tons of debris that was sent into the Pacific Ocean. On June 5, 2012, a large concrete, steel and Styrofoam dock from Misawa, Japan, washed onto the Oregon Coast. The 188-ton dock landed on Agate Beach, Ore., after being carried over 5,000 miles by currents and winds. It carried with it about 100 living marine species of near-shore Japanese origin, some of which are known to be invasive on the U.S. West Coast. This is a hot topic for scientists and community members alike, because natural disasters like the 2011 Japanese tsunami must be considered as a mode of transportation for aquatic invasive species.
The Japanese Tsunami Debris Key Aquatic Invasive Species Watch Guide plays a number of roles. First, it includes descriptions and photos of some of the marine species that were attached to the dock. It also indicates whether or not they should be considered invasive along the U.S. West Coast, and tells what to do if you spot invasive species on marine debris. Lastly, it provides specimen collection protocols. Oregon Sea Grant developed the guide so that more people can learn about tsunami debris, the invaders it carries and the potential effects that this could have on the Western U.S. coastal ecosystem.
More specifically, teachers can also use the publication and the new STEM tsunami curriculum to learn about the topic and incorporate it into student coursework. The main goal of the WISE program is to remain dedicated to the education of teachers about watershed issues and engage students in science and community action. Similarly, the tsunami curriculum provides STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education through the study of natural phenomena, coastal engineering design and the human interaction. By using both resources, teachers can integrate this unique form of invasive species dispersal into their curriculum. Once again, these are events taking place right here in Oregon, and students can follow the current research in the classroom. Not only can students learn about the tsunami debris and the invaders it carried, but they can also become a part of the research if they take part in specimen collection at the beach or visit displays of the dock. Involvement in both the scientific education behind the tsunami debris and civic engagement along the coast are great ways to engage students in and out of the classroom.
Access the species watch guide at the following link: http://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/sgpubs/g-13-002
Access the STEM tsunami curriculum at the following link: http://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/invasive-species/toolkit/tsunami-stem-curriculum