The deadly 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan were devastating to life both on land and in the ocean. Years later, we're still discovering the long-lasting effects on our environment. Case in point: Scientists recently learned the wave sent sea creatures on long ocean journeys.
According to a study published in Science, almost 300 different species of marine life, including fish, crabs and mussels have floated thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean, riding on debris such as boats, foam and even partial docks. The creatures have washed up in Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon and California, among other locations.
Some of the creatures went through several generations before reaching a foreign shore thanks to the fact that the materials they floated on weren't biodegradable. The result of these many generations traveling across the Pacific is a plethora of species never before seen along the eastern side of the ocean. The scientific community is a little impressed by the durability and adaptability of the creatures.
"The fact that communities of organisms survived out in the open ocean for long time periods (years in some cases) is amazing," James Byers, a marine ecologist at the University of Georgia, told the Associated Press in an email.
Of course, with this many new species in a new environment, scientists and government agencies are worried about the potential impact these invasive species might have. And with rising sea levels and more non-biodegradable materials in the ocean, it's likely the number of "megaraft" expeditions will increase over time.