Pacific Drifter

The Japanese Dock, on Oregon’s Agate Beach

In early June, a drifter from Japan found its way to Newport, Oregon’s Agate Beach: a massive fishing dock unmoored by last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. How this 66-foot long, 20-foot wide, 7-foot high hunk of rebar and concrete floats at all, I have no idea. Incredible to think it found its way here all the way across the world’s biggest, widest, deepest Ocean. Makes you wonder what else is out there…

Agate Beach, Low Tide, Rainy Day

Curious people, braving the rain

No Trespassing. The dock has been scraped clean of all organisms – several hundred pounds of oysters, mussels, sponges, worms and crustaceans hitched a ride all the way across the Pacific on the dock, throwing marine biologists into panic about alien species.

Agate Beach Dogs

Keep an eye out for my upcoming feature story in EARTH magazine on the role of rafts, like the Japanese dock, in the spread of species around the globe! Man, it’s nice to be able to work on the road! 🙂

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in western Colorado. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at
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15 Responses to Pacific Drifter

  1. P. C. Zick says:

    I love Oregon’s coast. I’m grateful my daughter lived there for five years. Each time I visited we did a different section of the coast highway until we’d gone from Washington to California. I also love Oregon’s state park system so you can easily access the beach in a variety of ways. Thanks for posting!

    • Yeah oregon has a pretty epic state park system along the coast! You can walk from Washington to California and never leave public land. Great for hiking, not so great for boondocking. I had to pay $22 a night to camp!

  2. amberlife says:

    Those dogs look like they’re having a fabulous time!! Have been telling my work colleagues about you and your adventures – they are in awe!

  3. If you’re heading further up the coast and want to see more, a Japanese fishing boat washed up in Ilwaco. And if you’re headed up that far, come by and say hello! I should warn you, there’s not many BLM lands around here (I checked) and camping runs $20/night at the parks here.

  4. Rachael says:

    so incredible that something that big, and obviously rather heavy could make its way all across the ocean! Must certainly be a slight to see on a normal beach!

    • Yeah i thought I was going to have to do some searching to find it. Nope! I just followed the crowds and there it was, sitting in the middle of Agate Beach! Pretty incredible.

  5. ehpem says:

    Great photos – I heard of this on the news, but your images really show how big it is. I was just experiencing smaller versions of this kind of thing on Haida Gwaii – it will be interesting to see your article on rafting species. While a concern now, the concept has some very interesting implications for past spread of species in more natural ways (not that tsunami’s aren’t natural, just the rafts themselves, this time around).

    • Yeah, should be a neat story. I’m having fun researching it! I’ll be sure to post an announcement when it hits the news stands. Thanks for reading! M

  6. wow, that is a scary ,would not want to run into that in the middle of the pacific.good bye boat! as alway’s your work is inspiring.fellow traveler gary green

    • Yeah I guess the Coast Guard was pretty alarmed that this thing could wash up without anybody seeing it at sea. Lucky nobody crossed its path! That thing is huge and solid!

  7. Kendall says:

    thought you might be interested in what’s become of the dock:

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