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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Beamed across

Here's something interesting that washed up on Doran Beach:

Although it's hard to tell, this beam was about 7 feet long.

Can you see those holes in the end of it?  Do you know what kind of animal made the holes?

Here's a view of some of the smaller holes on the top of the beam:

The holes belong to "shipworms" indicating that the beam was at sea for a while.  Shipworms are actually not worms at all, but rather are marine bivalves small clams that tunnel through submerged wood.

I decided to share pictures of this beam and the shipworm holes because it might have an unusual origin.  Jim let me know that it's possible this is a piece of debris from the Japanese tsunami in 2011.  He's been involved with the Japanese Tsunami Marine Debris project, and there are characteristics of this beam that indicate a possible origin from the Tohoku coast of Honshu.  (An expert is working on identifying the shipworms — they might be a species from the Western Pacific called Psiloteredo.)

It's unknown when the beam washed up at Doran, or how it made its way across the Pacific Ocean, but it's amazing to think about such a long-distance journey.

P.S.  If you'd like to read a little more about shipworms, there's a Wikipedia article here.

P.P.S.  For more information about the Japanese Tsunami Marine Debris program, visit NOAA's web site.

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