When a 66-foot dock washed up on Oregon’s coast as debris from Japan’s 2011 tsunami, Oregon State University scientists inspected it for invasive species, which can cause ecological and economic damage. They identified more than 90 unique creatures, including barnacles, algae, and northern Pacific sea stars. At least 10 of these species are known to be invaders in other parts of the world.
However, AES researchers say that the danger from potentially harmful hitchhikers may not be known for years. Some of the invaders could reproduce and breed with similar local organisms, disrupting the native ecosystem. Research continues as vigilance is warranted. Expelling or managing an established invasive species nationally costs $6 billion for invasive fish and $122 million for aquatic weeds annually, which includes the economic impacts of commercial production losses and declining native species.