Excerpt from khon2.com
WALDPORT, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A large boat, suspected to be debris from a Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011, was spotted off the Oregon Coast Thursday near Seal Rock.
The fiberglass boat is around 25-30 feet long, and appears to be half to two-thirds of a larger vessel that was possibly set adrift, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department said.
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Rob and Debbie Parks spotted the mussel-and-barnacle glazed hull Thursday afternoon about two miles off the coast of Newport.
“Over the horizon I saw this flat black thing,” he told KOIN 6 News. “Of course it was almost clear down under water.”
David Debelloy spent six hours towing it in after biologists OK’d the move after the passengers were found and determined to pose no threat as an invasive species.
“We have 20 yellowtail jacks and a striped beakfish,” said Erin Paxton of the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
Biologists with the Oregon Coast Aquarium and OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center determined the organisms still attached to the vessel posed a low threat to the Oregon Coast ecosystem.
“They were probably born outside of that boat, but arrived in that boat,” said Jim Burke, the director of animal husbandry at the aquarium.
Biologists will DNA-test the larger yellowtails to determine exactly where they’re from, but the striped beak fish is native to the Japanese coastal waters.
“Fish of that size in such a small hold, I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Burke said. “It’s pretty interesting and they’re in apparently good shape.”
The plan for the boat now is to move it to a place where it can be lifted from the water and inspected again. Once it’s determined to be safe, it will be dismantled and dumped at a landfill.