To Oregon!

by david

I heard this story in the car this afternoon.

Not going to listen to it? OK, jerk. Here’s the short version. After the Japanese tsunami, a huge concrete hunk of a Japanese dock broke off and went out to sea. Rather than disappearing into the Pacific never to be seen again, it washed up on a beach in Oregon. A HUGE HUNK OF CONCRETE. In and of itself, cool. But that’s not all: it showed up encased in sealife: mussels, barnacles, and millions of tiny organisms that came not from the deep sea, but Japan. They rode all the way across the Pacific on an object that was never intended to move, no less serve as a military vehicle for invasive species.

Holy crap! I love this story. Not because I’m a fan of invasive species or human tragedy. Mostly I love it because it’s something I never, ever would have anticipated. It’s such a weird story, this crazy blend of nature and technology. You’ve got scientists saying, essentially, “this shouldn’t be possible.” This dock flips up onto the beach and suddenly they know that they know less than they thought they did. It’s like the ocean said, “What? They’ve got little things they call ‘Oceanographers’? They think they know me? I’ll show them. A-choo!” Blam. Japanese shellfish in Oregon. A starfish that can beat a brown bear in a fight.

I’m reminded of this, from xkcd:

We don’t know a damn thing about the ocean. Most of our planet is inaccessible and weird to us. It’s weird how comfortable we all are with that.