Japanese sea life swept across the ocean

Last updated at 11:48
Asian amur sea starsOregon state university
These are Asian amur sea stars found by scientists on the Oregon coast. They were swept all the way from Japan after the 2011 tsunami.

Scientists have found hundreds of different species of Japanese sea-creatures on the west coast of the United States of America.

The amazing discovery seems to be down to a huge tsunami, a giant wave caused by an earthquake, which hit the coast of Japan in 2011.

It was so powerful it swept sea creatures all the way across the Pacific ocean to America. It's thought to be the longest sea migration ever recorded.

It was a year after the tsunami that American researchers first began to find the living sea creatures. Researchers are still finding new species 6 years after the wave.

Sea slugsJohn Chapman
Many different species were swept across the ocean including these sea slugs!

"When we first saw species from Japan arriving in Oregon, we were shocked. We never thought they could live that long, under such harsh conditions," Professor John Chapman from Oregon State University told BBC news.

The team has found 289 different species so far, including crabs, clams, slugs and star fish.

Mussels were the most common creature the team found.

a Japanese fishing boatJohn Chapman
Even a Japanese fishing boat made its way to the States and it's covered in gooseneck barnacles which attached themselves as it floated across the Pacific ocean

Many of the creatures were attached to plastic. It's thought because of the material doesn't break up in water, the sea life was able to travel much further than species attached to wood.

Professor James Carlton told BBC news that "What we have done now is provide these species with rather permanent rafts; we have changed the nature of their boats."