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On the morning of June 5th, 2012, John Chapman drove up to Agate Beach in Newport, Oregon, to take a look at a massive, 188-ton dock that had washed ashore during a storm. The dock was coated in seaweed and, to Chapman’s surprise, covered with small crabs, mussels, barnacles, and sea stars.

A tag revealed that the dock was from Misawa, Japan, a city that was hit by the mega tsunami that struck the area in 2011. After 15 months of drifting around the Pacific Ocean, the dock — and over 4,000 pounds of living marine creatures latched onto it — had landed in Oregon. “That was a stunning discovery,” Chapman, a professor of fisheries at Oregon State University, tells The Verge. “For my brain to accept what my eyes were seeing… I could not…

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