Invasive mussels land on B.C. coast with Japan tsunami boat
Six-metre boat washes up covered in mussels, pelagic barnacles
An invasive species of mussel has arrived in British Columbia, carried over by a boat that appears to have been pushed across the Pacific Ocean by the massive Japanese tsunami of 2011.
The six-metre boat, which washed up on Vancouver Island's Long Beach on Sunday, appears to have faded Japanese writing on the hull and is encrusted with Mediterranean mussels and large pelagic barnacles.
John Chapman, an invasive species biologist who studies tsunami debris at Oregon State University, said the mussels could threaten the local B.C. habitat.
"These things that are coming from Japan have the enormous potential to bring parasites and pathogens and diseases with them," he said.
But Tom Therriault, research scientist for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, says that type of mussel is already grown in B.C. for aquaculture.
"So, is there a concern? I guess potentially," he said. "But the risk would be considered quite low."
Karla Robison, manager of environmental and emergency services for the District of Ucluelet, said live samples of the mussels have been sent to Oregon for testing.
So far, 165 exotic species linked to tsunami debris have arrived on the west coast of North America.
The volume of debris arriving on the B.C. coast from the 2011 tsunami is expected to peak this winter.
With files from the CBC's Lisa Johnson