The earthquake and tsunami that hit northern Japan on March 11, 2011, killed an estimated 19,000 people. More than 340,000 people were still homeless after a year. Now, 15 months later, large debris has begun to wash up on the U.S. West Coast.
"I've been wondering all over again why flotsam stories like these capture the imagination," says Donovan Hohn, author of Moby Duck, a chronicle of his own high-seas journey in search of flotsam. "I think the unlikelihood of it all -- that the unpredictable currents would deliver this thing to this exact spot -- makes these objects seem a bit magical, even if they're worthless. Or even, in some cases -- that dock, the derelict fishing boat -- a public safety hazard. They have stories to tell."
Left, workers from the Oregon Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks use scrapers and torches to clean and kill invasive sea creatures and plants from the hull of a large floating dock on Agate Beach near Newport, Oregon.
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