Fish from 2011 tsunami wash up alive in Washington

Five fish stow away on tsunami-tossed boat

Most outrageous fish tales begin with an arching arm gesture and “a fish this big” — but this one starts with “fish that traveled this far.”

Just over two years after the Japan earthquake and tsunami, researchers made a startling discovery in a 20-foot-long Japanese fishing vessel that washed ashore last month near Long Beach, Washington: five tropical fish, alive and well.

They are called striped beakfish, and they are native to warmer waters near Japan, China and the Korean Peninsula.

The five stowaways, roughly the size of your palm, lived in a cozy spot at the back of the boat.

A 20- to 30-gallon containment hold in the boat’s stern lost its cover, and that part of the boat was submerged as the vessel drifted in the ocean, said Allen Pleus, a scientist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. That “created like a cave they could go in and out of,” Pleus said…

When researchers first explored the boat, they saw just one of the fish in the holding tank. They collected it in a bucket and took it to Long Beach City Hall.

Someone at City Hall called the Seaside Aquarium in Seaside, Oregon, to come and get it. Fish and Wildlife personnel found three more in the tank’s murky water. Finally the boat was towed to a state yard, where the fifth fish came swimming up to Pleus.

The one that went to the aquarium will live out its life there.

The other fishies along with anemones, scallops, crabs that also survived the journey will be dissected and examined in detail at Oregon States University.

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