Caring for the marine environment through ocean awareness, advocacy, and citizen action.
Bookmark and Share

What you should know about tsunami debris

First and foremost...

  • Be safe: Use common sense and follow general rules.
  • If you don’t know what an item is, please don’t touch it.
  • If it appears hazardous, contact appropriate authorities.


Save Our Shores will track any debris found during our beach and river cleanups that reached the West Coast due to the Japan tsunami. We'll keep you posted on our findings!

Marine debris items or accumulations related to the tsunami can be reported to with as much information as possible: location, the date and time you found it, photos, and any relevant descriptions. It is important to remember that not all debris found on U.S. shorelines is from Japan, so please use your discretion when reporting items.
See the official guidelines from NOAA...



What to do if you find tsunami debris...

Litter and other typical marine debris items:
Examples: Plastic bottles, aluminum cans, buoys, Styrofoam
Common marine debris types may vary by location. If practical, we encourage you to remove the debris and recycle as much of it as possible.

Potential hazardous materials (HAZMAT):
Examples: Oil or chemical drums, gas cans, propane tanks
Contact your local authorities (a 911 call), state environmental health agency, and the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 to report the item with as much information as possible. Do not touch the item or attempt to move it. Do not contact for response assistance.

Derelict vessel or other large debris item:
Examples: Adrift fishing boat, shipping containers
Contact your local authorities (a 911 call) and state environmental health agency to report the item. If the debris item is a hazard to navigation, contact the US Coast Guard Pacific Area Command at 510-437-3701 for assistance. Do not attempt to move or remove vessels.

Mementos or possessions:
Examples: Items with unique identifiers, names, or markings
If an item can 1) be traced back to an individual or group and 2) has personal or monetary value, it should be reported to NOAA will work with local Japan consulates to determine if they can help return the item to Japan.

It is highly unlikely that remains from the tsunami will reach the United States, but if you see human remains anywhere, contact local authorities (a 911 call) and report what you observed. Do not touch or attempt to move them.

Unknown items:
If you don’t know what it is, please don’t touch it. If you believe it is a hazardous item, contact local authorities and report it.


Additional Resources on Tsunami Debris:


Save Our Shores addresses pollution in our oceans, particularly plastics, through:


The Impact of Plastic Pollution on Animals:

1. Ingestion: Marine animals often mistake plastic pieces for food, causing malnutrition, dehydration, and starvation. SOS is particularly concerned with ingestion as our beaches are littered with small plastic pieces that can easily be mistaken for food by birds and other wildlife here in the Monterey Bay.

2. Suffocation: Animals can suffocate on plastic pollution, such as plastic bags and six pack holders. A common example includes sea turtles who try and ingest plastic bags, mistaking them for jellyfish (their favorite food). Often the plastic bag is too large for the animal to digest and the turtle will suffocate.

3. Entanglement: This can occur when common items like fishing line, strapping bands and six-pack rings hamper the mobility of marine animals. Once entangled, animals have trouble eating, breathing or swimming, all of which can have fatal results.

Ocean pollution affects at least 267 species worldwide, including 86% of sea turtle species, 44% of all sea bird species, and 43% of marine mammal species.




> The image to your left is of of the LA River boon after a rainstorm.




One Percent Logo Earth Share CA Logo