Great Pacific Garbage Patch a bigger worry than tsunami debris
June 8, 2012 | 6:30 am
-- Tony Barboza
Debris from the Japanese tsunami is starting to wash ashore on the U.S. West Coast in a big way.
Beachcombers from Northern California to Alaska are finding fishing floats, soccer balls and ships that have drifted thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean after being dragged to sea by the March 2011 tsunami -- even a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that was traced back to a tsunami survivor.
Authorities this week confirmed the largest arrival yet: A 66-foot dock that that floated onto a beach near Newport, Ore.
Still, marine scientists say a far bigger problem is the untold amount of everyday garbage swirling in a vast, slow-moving vortex known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. That's the popular name for the vast concentration of debris -- most of it confetti-sized flecks of discarded plastic -- circling endlessly about 1,000 miles off the California coast.