GODZILLA Invades Oregon!

What a great plot for a B movie! Here comes Godzilla – that irradiated lizard that terrified Japanese crowds in the great movies and TV series starting in the 1950s – floating on a fishing dock headed straight for Agate Beach. Scientists, the military, and concerned citizens battle the great beast, and seem to kill it. But lurking in the water are more Japanese monsters, ready to threaten our way of life, and life itself here in peaceful Oregon. Anyone coming in contact with flotsam with Japanese letters on it should immediately contact the authorities, and get the heck out of there, before they are attacked, and made to carry a terrible disease into the cities of our peaceful land.

Far-fetched, you say. But wait, something like this scenario is actually happening. Here’s the June 11 headline from DOGOnews, a news website for kids: Japan’s Tsunami Debris Drags ‘Alien’ Creatures To Oregon. And here’s part of the article (by Meera Dolasia):

When the powerful tsunami that devastated portions of Japan on March 11th, 2011 receded, it carried with it all kinds of debris – ranging from over 200,000 buildings complete with belongings, to countless cars. Among the biggest were four dock floats – the size of freight train boxcars, that were ripped off intact from the fishing port of Misawa.

One the barges was recovered shortly after off a nearby island. However, the other three were not seen until this week, when one suddenly washed ashore on the white sands of Oregon’s Agate Beach. Not only had the 165-ton concrete and steel dock made an astonishing 5,000-mile journey across the world, but it had also carried with it a diverse community of organisms ranging from algae to mussels, crabs and even starfish.

The problem with the arrival of these unexpected visitors is that they are all native to Japan. If allowed to live, they could threaten the local species and even topple the existing ecosystem irreversibly. In order to prevent the aliens from taking over, the scientists had to scrape the dock clean, sterilize it with torches and even bury the one and half tons of material that was clinging to it, above a high-water line.

While that averted this particular threat, others may not be as easy to get rid of. Wakame, a species of seaweed that was previously found only in Japan, has now been spotted in Southern California, as has a new species of algae. In addition to that, a never-been-seen-before tiny species of crab is making rapid inroads around New York, whilst a new kind of starfish has been spotted all along the US coast. What other surprises will the after-effects of the Japanese tsunami bring? Only time will tell!

See, the italicized sentence above tells kids to kill the invader! Left alive, it could kill everyone! Told you it’s not so far fetched…

Still don’t believe me? Well, here’s the first couple paragraphs from an article published on KOIN6’s website on June 15:

Local, state and federal officials met Friday in Cannon Beach to discuss plans for coordinating cleanup efforts regarding Japan tsunami debris that has washed up on Oregon’s beaches and coastal waters.

“The dock that washed up near Newport is a real wakeup call,” said U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), who led the work session. “We expect more and we don’t know what’s coming.”

See? More is coming. Told ya.

Of all sources, The Huffington Post (Jonathan Cooper) reports on June 28:

Find a boxcar-sized dock on the beach, or a soccer ball with Japanese symbols? The state of Oregon wants to hear from you. Just dial 211.

Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber announced the hotline at a news conference Thursday, saying it’s an easy way for residents and visitors to report Japanese tsunami debris. Beginning Friday, the hotline will be staffed during business hours and will take recorded messages at other times.

“I just want to make sure that Oregonians understand that we are on top of this,” Kitzhaber said.

The hotline will allow the public to help keep Oregon’s beaches clean and return any missing Japanese property to its rightful owners, the governor said.

He also said Brig. Gen. Mike Caldwell, deputy director of the Oregon National Guard and interim director of the state’s Office of Emergency Management, will be responsible for coordinating the response and cleanup efforts among state agencies.

“It’s important to quickly collect and throw away tsunami debris to keep beaches clean and prevent the introduction of invasive species,” Caldwell said. Officials are asking that people not take home debris to keep as souvenirs, but they say there’s little chance of the debris being harmful to human health.

They always say that when there’s real danger. We’re dust. So, if you spot any sign of Godzilla, get out your cell phone and dial 211, and get the hell out of there, before the invading monster destroys you and everything else in this great country. Don’t worry – our military will protect you.

“Oh no! I think it’s still alive, sir!”

Or not.

By Bob Goldberg

Bob moved to Astoria from Seattle in 2005, on the day Katrina hit New Orleans. He started writing for HIPFiSH in 2007. With a previous career as an environmental engineer with the Washington State Department of Ecology and a researcher at various companies and national labs, Bob tries to bring his scientific (i.e. objective) background to journalism. Outside the HIPFiSH world, Bob does programming on KMUN radio, sings tenor in the North Coast Chorale, tutors at Clatsop Community College, and helps with websites. He lives in Astoria with his beautiful and wonderful wife, his son and two cats.