March 8, 2016: Special Seminar Cathryn Clarke Murray

IRES Seminar Series

Time: 10:15am to 11:15am

Location: AERL 107/108, 2202 Main Mall

Connections and Challenges: Lessons learned five years after the Great Japanese Tsunami of 2011


Five years after the Great Tohoku Earthquake of 2011 created a massive tsunami, debris continues to arrive on North American and Hawaiian shorelines carrying living Japanese species. In response to this unprecedented event the ADRIFT project was launched, funded by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan through the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES). The primary goal of this project is to assess and forecast the effects of debris generated by this tsunami, especially those related to non-indigenous species, on ecosystem structure and function of coastal communities. The project focuses on three main areas of research:  (1) modeling movement of marine debris in the North Pacific, (2) surveillance and monitoring of tsunami-generated marine debris landfall, and (3) assessing risk from potentially invasive species to coastal ecosystems.  A suite of general circulation models was used to simulate movement of marine debris arising from the tsunami. Surveillance and monitoring research has characterized the temporal and spatial variability in debris landfall.  Aerial photographic surveys were conducted for the exposed coastlines of British Columbia, Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands to search for large debris items and identify debris accumulation hotspots. The invasive species team continues to characterize the invasion potential of non-indigenous associated with tsunami debris.  Over 400 items attributed to the tsunami have been intercepted, and from these over 300 species of algae, invertebrates and fish have been identified; some of these species are well-known global invaders. This presentation will focus on how the lessons learned in the aftermath of this unprecedented natural event challenge traditional ecological theory and connect communities on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.


Dr. Cathryn Clarke Murray is Visiting Scientist with the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) and Adjunct Professor in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Murray is a marine ecologist broadly interested in the interaction between human and natural systems. She holds a PhD in biological oceanography from the University of British Columbia and a Master’s of Science degree from James Cook University in Australia. Her postdoctoral work with WWF-Canada focused on the cumulative effect of human activities and she has conducted interdisciplinary research on a broad range of topics, from the ecology of invasive species, to ecological risk assessment and ecosystem-based management. She is based in Victoria, British Columbia.


[Photo Credit:]