On March 11, 2011 a tsunami struck the Crescent City area following the 9.0 earthquake in Japan. The residents evacuated as a series of waves and strong tidal currents surged into the Crescent City Boat Harbor. When the evacuation lifted, residents returned to the area to find most of the inner boat basin destroyed. While many of the fishing vessels had been able to leave the area before the tsunami landed, several others could not. The surges destroyed the majority of the moorings and docks in the inner harbor, tossed debris both onshore and in the harbor basin, sunk 16 vessels, damaged numerous others and grounded one vessel at the mouth of the Elk River. The tsunami also took the life of one local man. Following the lifting of the evacuation order, the US Coast Guard, the CDFW, the Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and several oil spill response organizations responded to the scene. Several boats and many pilings were removed from the harbor during the pollution mitigation incident. Crews removing sunken vessels took great care to avoid causing further damage to those that were salvageable. Over 1,400 gallons of petroleum product was recovered and more than 1,460 cubic yards of oil debris was removed from the harbor. No wildlife impacts were observed.
At approximately 11:00 Friday morning a large series of waves and tidal currents surged into the harbor in Santa Cruz, Calif. sinking 18 boats and damaging more than 100 others vessels. Several docks and piers inside and harbor were also damaged but no injuries or deaths were reported. The damaged boats had a minimal effect on local wildlife because of the small amounts of fuel carried on the pleasure boats, typically less than five gallons. The CDFW mobilized a response team that included approximately 15 Wardens and 10 scientific and technical support staff. CDFW boats and other assets actively assisted the port director and harbor police in moving damaged boats to safety and monitored potential environmental hazards.