Survey in Process in Southeast Alaska for Tsunami Debris

federal scientists have begun the first survey of Southeast Alaska beaches for debris
from the Japanese tsunami. The crew from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
left Ketchikan late last week aboard the charter vessel Sumdum for a 10-day cruise
to survey specific beaches of Southeast Alaska from Dixon Entrance to Cape Spencer.
They plan to cover 78 kilometers of shoreline across 889 kilometers of outside coast.
Rice of NOAA’s Auke Bay Laboratory in Juneau said the team doubts that the peak
of tsunami debris has arrived yet, so this is a preliminary assessment to get an
idea of the scope of what is arriving right now. Rice said they are keeping a sharp
eye out to see if there is anything chemically or physically dangerous in the debris
that needs immediate attention, and that the scouting trip will help in planning
future cleanup efforts.
this summer other locations further north and west in Alaska will be surveyed, including
a wide area of coastline all the way out to Adak. Human related marine debris will
be enumerated and cataloged so scientists can assess their spatial and temporal
distribution. NOAA plans to continue tsunami debris surveys periodically throughout
the next two years.
this is the first NOAA survey in Alaska specifically for tsunami debris, NOAA has
been conducting marine debris surveys along the Alaska coast every 5-10 years since
standard survey protocols were developed in the 1970s, giving the agency nearly
40 years of data on marine debris in Southeast Alaska.