Oceanographer expects more ghost ships and human remains in tsunami debris

Curt Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer who tracks flotsam says he’s expecting 100 vessels carried off by the Japanese tsunami to arrive on the West Coast in the next couple of years. Several months ago, a 164-foot Japanese shrimping vessel that was swept away by the Tsunami arrived in the Gulf of Alaska (check out our May 1, 2012 blog post). At the time of its arrival, there was much discussion about the risk that this “ghost ship” posed to vessels in navigation. Ultimately, the Coast Guard sank the vessel to prevent it from becoming a hazard to vessels in navigation.

In addition, Ebbesmayer opines that West Coast beachcombers may find floating athletic shoes with human bones as more debris from the Japanese tsunami washes ashore. In a presentation Monday at a tsunami symposium in Port Angeles, Washington told the audience he’s expected 100 sneakers with bones in them. He’s advising anyone who discovers human remains to call 911 and wait for police.

Ebbesmeyer also said He expects the amount of tsunami debris to peak in October and that the debris could attract a number of Japanese visitors to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.

As more tsunami debris arrives, it will be interesting to see how larger pieces of debris such as derelict vessels affect the maritime industry, and to see how the market for “tsunami tourism” develops along the West Coast of the Unitied States.