SEATTLE -- A squid fishing ship dragged out to sea by the catastrophic tsunami that hit Japan last year is now slowly drifting toward Alaska.

Canadian authorities caught the first glimpse of the ship last month, located about 120 nautical miles from Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands).

The ship is heading in the direction of the southeast Alaska town of Sitka 170 miles to the north, traveling at about one mile per hour, Coast Guard spokesman David Mosley said.

Our main concern is maritime traffic, he said. We're trying to minimize any safety concerns, alerting vessels. We don't want any vessels to run into it.

A Coast Guard C-130 was heading to the ship Monday to pinpoint the exact location and check if a data buoy was successfully dropped on it Saturday.

Watch USCGvideo of buoy dropped near ship - click here

The ship was identified as being from the Japanese port city of Hachinohe in Aomori prefecture. Japanese officials said no one was on board when it was swept away.

A UW professor said last week he believes ocean currents are likely to carry smaller debris from the earthquake and tsunami to Washington, while larger debris is predicted to drift either north or south.

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