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Science. 2017 Sep 29;357(6358):1402-1406. doi: 10.1126/science.aao1498. Epub 2017 Sep 28.

Tsunami-driven rafting: Transoceanic species dispersal and implications for marine biogeography.

Author information

1
Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267, USA. james.t.carlton@williams.edu.
2
Williams College, Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies Program, Mystic, CT 06355, USA.
3
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport, OR 97365, USA.
4
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Moss Landing, CA 95039, USA.
5
Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267, USA.
6
Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, Charleston, OR 97420, USA.
7
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, MD 21037, USA.
8
Department of Environmental Science and Management, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97207, USA.

Abstract

The 2011 East Japan earthquake generated a massive tsunami that launched an extraordinary transoceanic biological rafting event with no known historical precedent. We document 289 living Japanese coastal marine species from 16 phyla transported over 6 years on objects that traveled thousands of kilometers across the Pacific Ocean to the shores of North America and Hawai'i. Most of this dispersal occurred on nonbiodegradable objects, resulting in the longest documented transoceanic survival and dispersal of coastal species by rafting. Expanding shoreline infrastructure has increased global sources of plastic materials available for biotic colonization and also interacts with climate change-induced storms of increasing severity to eject debris into the oceans. In turn, increased ocean rafting may intensify species invasions.

Comment in

PMID:
28963256
DOI:
10.1126/science.aao1498
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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