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Published on Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The New Phenomenon of Sailing Animals


The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 provided enough force and current to send a large amount of floating debris on the ocean and start an international and strange travel journey for species like crabs, fish and muscles across an ocean which often only happens in very rare and special cases.

Discovering Japan native species in Oregon shocked and confused scientists when people began noticing them 5 years ago, since about 2012. With the many effects of the 2011 natural disaster that were discovered, there are many that are still impacting the environment today. Over 300 new species began washing up on the west coast of North America. Those species were not expected to be capable of handling such tough ocean travelling conditions for such long periods of time.

However, the numerous non-biodegradable materials like foam and plastics actually acted as permanent non-dissolving rafts for all the traveling species thus allowing them to float 4,500 miles. This is now a new ecological process as more non-biodegradables float around in the ocean, and the dangerous rising water level will now allow more of this type of unusual species travel to happen. “Mega-rafting,” is what Steven L. Chown, is calling it, a professor of biology at Monash University. Additionally the species went through multiple generations before reaching their final destinations including Hawaii, Alaska, and California. These alien species now have very high durability, and although not currently causing any issues, can possibly pose a high risk on the native species in the future. Some species, for example, may have a tendency to be invasive and the rising possibility of this new type of travel might bring over these species to vulnerable environments.

We don’t entirely understand these new environmental changes, and scientists are continuing to collect new data to assist in limiting the negative effect to a minimum. However, These newly discovered species are shedding a very strong light on the major issue and extensive dangers and effects of non-biodegradable materials on the ecosystem. Humans have covered the shores with plastics and this is impacting the environment in unnatural ways that might be impossible to reverse in the future.

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