A Japanese fish made it’s way across the Pacific ocean riding in a small boat that is believed to be from debris from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife speculate the boat remained upright during trek across the Pacific Ocean.
An official from the wildlife department discovered the fish in a water-filled bait box on a 20-foot-long Japanese boat that washed ashore March 22 at Long Beach in southwest Washington, while collecting samples of marine organisms from the beached vessel.
The non-native fish was identified as a striped beakfish, which is found primarily in shallow Asian waters such as coral reefs. The fish is about 4-and-a-half inches long and appears to have survived the trip by feeding on other organisms in the boat.
“These fish could have been originally from Japanese waters, or they could have been picked up going close by the Hawaii coast,” said Allen Pleus, the aquatic invasive species coordinator at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“It’s very rare that you’d see something like this,” Pleus said. “Obviously, fish are very robust and we are learning this on all of the species that come across.”
“This is a fascinating discovery that provides further evidence of the unusual transport mechanism for non-native species associated with marine debris generated by the Japanese tsunami,” said Steve Rumrill from the Department of Fish and Wildlife in a news release Friday.
Most of the time, debris gets roughed up once it hits the surf near the shore, which would disperse any fish, but Pleus says this boat came ashore upright.
“There could be other types of fish associated with this debris that we don’t see but down the line we could find new populations of fish established on the coast,” Pleus said.
“In this particular case, the water conditions were right and the boat landed upright and was basically washed ashore,” Pleus said. “It had a nice 20- to 30-gallon aquarium intact in the back.”
The surviving striped beakfish went on display this weekend at the Seaside, Oregon Aquarium. Curator Keith Chandler says his staff dubbed it the “tsunami fish.”
Chandler told the Seattle Times, “We’re trying to get it different things to eat … and it may have eaten, but it’s a shy little guy.”
Japanese tsunami fish arrives in boat on Washington coast
A fish native to Japan has been discovered living in a small boat carried across the Pacific to US shores by the 2011 tsumani. The fish, identified as a striped beakfish, appears to have survived the 5,000 mile journey aboard a drifting 18-foot skiff that arrived on the Washington coastline in March.