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Five years after Japan's tsunami: What we've learned about marine debris

March 14, 2016
A small boat washed ashore at Cape Disappointment, Washington in 2012.

It has been five years since Japan was hit with one of the worst natural disasters in its history. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that followed claimed nearly 16,000 lives, injured 6,000 more, and damaged or destroyed countless structures and property.

It also led to an estimated 5 million tons of marine debris that were pulled into the Pacific by the massive tsunami wave, adding to an existing marine debris problem.

As the lead U.S. federal agency addressing marine debris, the NOAA Marine Debris Program has worked closely with partners in the Pacific states, Canada, and Japan for the last five years to respond to tsunami marine debris and share information. NOAA Marine Debris Program director Nancy Wallace reflects on the response and lessons learned in this blog. And learn more by visiting this explainer about marine debris.