Part of a special free-standing Japanese temple arch called a torii washed up in Oceanside March 22. Since then, other pieces of wood have washed ashore that have prompted more than a dozen reports to Oregon Parks and Recreation Department coast staff. These pieces of normal woody debris do not have to be reported.

The wood, small beams and other structural timbers, could be debris from buildings in Japan destroyed in the March 2011 tsunami, but they do not appear to be related to the torii found near Oceanside. Unlike the piece of the torii, which was painted and very carefully made, the rest of the woody debris is unpainted and was probably used in common, secular construction. There is no update regarding the origin of the torii; it is still being stored at a state park.

Since these other pieces of wood are untreated, and don’t contain nails or other metal fittings, they can normally be left on the shore to either decompose or join the natural driftwood piles. While many are coated with algae native to the mid-Pacific, those species do not represent a threat to Oregon’s coastal ecosystem.

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