The JTMD species database provides information for selected species of marine invertebrates and algae known from the northwestern Pacific Ocean. Specially marked are those associated with debris originating from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami that arrived to North America or Hawaii.

Each species record contains:

  • Information on the biology, ecology, and effects (impacts);
  • Global distribution maps of native and introduced range;
  • Past mechanisms (vectors) of introduction;
  • History of introduction and spread;
  • References to available literature


This database contains selected species known from Japan that (a) had available information on life history and biogeography and (b) were known from the fouling community and therefore could be potentially associated with Japanese tsunami debris items. Only a subset of the species listed have now been confirmed to be found on JTMD arriving to the coasts of North America and Hawaiii. None of the species treated here necessarily represent established populations. These confirmed JTMD species are noted in the database by a special tsunami warning icon . The other taxa are not confirmed as found on JTMD.

Caution:This is not a comprehensive list of JTMD species, since the selected species were based on initial identification for only a subset of the total species pool. Species have continued to arrive, and this database is still expanding, with future updates expected. For the most current and complete list of taxa found on JTMD, please see the following article and data archive:

James T. Carlton, John W. Chapman, Jonathan B.Geller, Jessica A. Miller, Deborah A. Carlton, Megan I. McCuller, Nancy C. Treneman, Brian P. Steves, and Gregory M. Ruiz (2017) Tsunami-driven rafting: Transoceanic species dispersal and implications for marine biogeography. SCIENCE 29 SEP 2017 : 1402-1406 https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.rh01m

Data Dryad archive of that paper's underlying data.

Background Information

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Honshu, Japan, creating a devastating tsunami that reached heights of up to 40 meters and inundated 562 square kilometres in northern Japan. The overall goal of this PICES ADRIFT project, funded by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan (MoE), was to assess and forecast the effects of debris generated by the tsunami that followed the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, especially those related to exotic species (sometime referred to as non-native, nonindigenous or introduced species), on ecosystem structure and function, the coastlines and communities of the west coast of North America and Hawaii, and suggest research and management actions to mitigate any impacts.

About 650 debris items attributed to the tsunami have been intercepted and sampled thus far, and more than 380 species of algae, invertebrates and fish have been identified associated with this debris. Many of the species encountered are native to Japan, and are not currently present in North America or Hawaii ecosystems. In order to better understand the potential risk of these species to North American and Hawaiian coastlines, information on the distribution, biology, ecology, life history traits and invasion history of these species was compiled by applying a standardized search protocol of online resources, databases, and scientific literature written in both English and Japanese.

Additional details can be found in the final PICES report on the ADRIFT project and associated publications.

For more information, please contact the PICES Secretariat at secretariat@pices.int.


Please use the following citation when referencing the ADRIFT database.

Nelson JC, Murray CC, Otani M, Liggan L, Kawai H, Ruiz GM, Hansen G & Carlton JT. 2016. PICES Japanese Tsunami Marine Debris (JTMD) database. http://invasions.si.edu/nemesis/jtmd/. Accession Date: 28-Nov -2016


This research was funded by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan through the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES). Collection and identification of biota was supported by the National Science Foundation and PICES. Meagan Abele, Reva Gillman, Shigeo Kawaguchi, Kiyotaka Matsumura, Danielle Scriven, and Janson Wong assisted in content development. We gratefully acknowledge the expertise of the taxonomists who identified the species associated with tsunami debris: Bjorn Altermark, Claudia Arango, David Bilderback, Philip E. Bock, Luisa M. S. Borges, Ralph Breitenstein, Stephen Cairns, Dale Calder, James T. Carlton, Benny Chan, John W. Chapman, Henry Choong, Eugene V. Coan, Jeffery R. Cordell, Matthew T. Craig, Natalia Demchenko, Matthew Dick, Anthony Draeger, Douglas Eernisse, David Elvin, Neal Evenhuis, Daphne Fautin, Karen H. Fehlauer-Ale, Kenneth Finger, Megan Flenniken, Toshio Furota, Aaron Gann, Jonathan Geller, Jeff Goddard, Scott Godwin, Dennis Gordon, Terry Gosliner, Takuma Haga, Takeaki Hanyuda, Niels-Viggo Hobbs, Leslie Harris, John Holleman, Gyo Itani, Collin Johnson, Hiroshi Kajihara, Gerald Krantz, Elena Kupriyanova, Gretchen Lambert, Robert S. Lea, Katrina Lohan, Konstantin Lutaenko, Josh Mackie, Christopher Mah, Svetlana Maslakova, Gary McDonald, James H. McLean, Richard Mooi, Bruce Mundy, Katherine Newcomer, Eijiroh Nishi, Teruaki Nishikawa, Atsushi Nishimoto, Jerrold G. Norton, Ronald Noseworthy, Peter Ng, Hiroshi Ogawa, Michio Otani, David Pawson, Erik Pilgrim, Michael Raupach, Gregory Ruiz, Hiroshi Saito, Masaki Sakaguchi, Eric Sanford, J. Reuben Shipway, Ashleigh Smythe, Jackie Sones, Masahiro Suzuki, Ichiro Takeuchi, Hayato Tanaka, Nancy Treneman, Paul Valentich-Scott, Leandro Manzoni Vieira, and Judith Winston.