Federal and state authorities are trying to locate, track and hopefully sink at sea a floating dock that could be tsunami debris from Japan, a state Department of Land and Natural Resources spokeswoman said today.
The floating dock about 20 by 40 feet was discovered by a Maui fisherman Sept. 17 as he was looking for the KC2 buoy, about 30 miles north of Maui. The fisherman, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Maui News last week that he located the dock again Sept. 19, north of Molokai, about 15 miles off Halawa Valley.
That is the last sighting of the debris, which resembled a Japanese fishing dock that washed ashore in Oregon over the summer.
The hazard to vessels at sea and the potential for introduction of invasive species have led DLNR to put out a call to boaters and small plane pilots to help locate the dock with GPS points and/or coordinates.
Based on a report of styrofoam found on a Molokai beach, DNLR sent out a helicopter Wednesday that searched the northern coasts of Molokai and Lanai for three hours -- without success -- said Ward. Styrofoam is one of the components believed to add floatation to the concrete dock.
Once the dock is located, DLNR plans to intercept, place tracking buoys and dispose of it at sea, said Ward. To prevent possible introduction of invasive species from the dock that's floated around the northern Pacific Ocean for over a year, it is safer for the ocean environment to dispose of the dock at sea rather than on land, said Ward.
That is why "early notice" is critical, she added.
The latest modeling Wednesday had the dock floating northeast toward Kauai, said Ben Sherman, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokesman in Washington, D.C. That is based on the Sept. 19 sighting.
For more on this story, see Friday's Maui News.