Tsunami debris appears to avoid Midway

Published On: Jun 16 2012 05:00:00 PM HST

Nearly all Pacific shores have been bracing for the arrival of tsunami debris from Japan.  One destination appears to have dodged the threat.

Debris from the 2011 Japan tsunami is arriving on the West Coast of the U.S.  On Friday, a 20-foot fishing boat with Japanese writing washed up on a Washington beach.

"Everyone in the oceanic administrations and the mariners at sea are eager to know where that debris from the tsunami has moved," said Robyn Thorson, the regional director for U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Early predictions suggested the tsunami debris would soon wash ashore on Midway Atoll.

The bird sanctuary is located 1,200 miles northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands and played a pivotal role in the way against Japan.

But in the wake of the tsunami, researchers on the atoll braced for a far different threat.

"We don't have the logistics here at this remote place to move that kind of mass," said Thorson.

Researchers are breathing easier after news the debris will bypass Midway and move north instead.

Volunteers are continuing to clean up the atoll and protect its beauty and wildlife.

"Besides fishing gear and so on, we also find everything from television sets to car bumpers to a lot of household items that maybe fall off ships or drift in from other places," said Kyle Koyanagi of the Marine Debris Operations.

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said unless there is some type of identification tag on the property, it is nearly impossible to track it back to Japan.

"But, we know that the gyre of the Pacific will bring (tsunami debris) around to the Pacific islands again," said Thorson.  "So, we're watchful but it looks like this time the major tsunami debris has bypassed Midway."

Since 1996, NOAA and its partners removed more than 1.5 million pounds of trash from the reefs surrounding Midway.


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