Japan Tsunami Marine Debris Sightings

Where is debris from the tsunami in Japan washing ashore in the United States?

Since December 2011, NOAA has received hundreds of marine debris sighting reports from at-sea vessels and beachgoers in Pacific-area states and British Columbia. These items range in size and type, anything from small plastic bottles to derelict boats. To date, several of these items have been definitively traced back to the tsunami, typically by registration number or some other unique marking.

Marine debris is an everyday problem, and it is important to remember that not all debris found on U.S. shorelines is from Japan. Even items with Japanese writing on them may have been lost or abandoned before or after the tsunami from sources around the Pacific Rim.

Debris Sightings Maps

NOAA has mapped all marine debris sightings reported to DisasterDebris@noaa.gov as possible tsunami debris, using NOAA's ERMA® tool.

Confirmed sightings (red triangle) indicate objects that were identified and definitively traced back to the tsunami impact area.

Potential sightings (yellow circle) indicate objects that may be linked to the tsunami, based on location, type, and markings, but that may not have the unique identifiers necessary, such as a serial number or contact information, to confirm its origin.