07/13/2012: "More On Tsunami Debris"
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife expects finding marine debris with invasive species will be rare, but asks when debis is removed, do not take the driffwood.
Rare species likely will only be found on large marine structures such as boats, docks, navigation aids and breakwaters that normally spend long time frames in foreign waters.
These items are also likely to require heavy equipment to remove. People may find organisms attached on smaller debris items - sometimes in heavy accumulations - but these will be common open-ocean species such as pelagic gooseneck barnacles, which do not pose a threat to our coastal ecosystem.
The public may see more wood than usual on our beaches, but the Washington Department of Ecology asks that people not burn driftwood since salt residue from ocean waters stays in pores of the wood, even after it's dry.
When burned, the chlorine reacts with the wood to form toxic compounds that are released in the smoke. These particles settle on back on the land as toxic contaminants that reach our waters when it rains.
Where beach fires are permitted, Ecology recommends people bring seasoned,non-driftwood and enjoy.
Stripping the beach of its driftwood depletes needed coastal habitat. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission asks people who want to clean debris from beaches to focus on small, non-natural items such as plastic, Styrofoam, other synthetic materials, glass and metal. Leave untreated wood, seaweed, eelgrass, other plant materials, shells and crabs because these are an important part of the beach ecosystem.