LOS ANGELES – Five live fish native to Japan were discovered inside a derelict boat in Washington state that is thought to have drifted across the Pacific after being hit by the March 11, 2011, tsunami, according to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.
A local resident found the 6-meter-long boat on the Long Beach Peninsula on March 22 and took one of the fish to Long Beach City Hall. That fish is now being exhibited in the Seaside Aquarium in Seaside, Oregon.
The black-and-white-striped fish were identified as barred knifejaws, also called striped beakfish, said Allen Pleus, aquatic invasive species coordinator at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The fish is doing well at the aquarium, where it is delighting visitors as the “Tsunami Fish.” The other four fish are being dissected and studied to determine their age, what they have been eating and whether they were carrying any parasites or diseases that could harm local fish, said Pleus.
“If the fish are 2 years old, it’s clear that they possibly could have come from Japan,” he said.
Barred knifejaws usually live in warmer waters and would have died if immediately transplanted into the colder waters near Washington. The fish probably became acclimated to the colder waters over a period of time, something that has not been seen before, said Pleus.
Every time new debris from Japan comes ashore, “it breaks the old scientific theories and makes us scratch our heads and wonder what is next,” he said.
The boat also contained other species not previously found on tsunami debris landing in the United States. Though it is not clear if any of the species have established themselves on the North American coast, the fact they could thrive for so long in the open ocean gives rise to concern that they could have, said Pleus.
Real estate bills OK’d
A Cabinet meeting Tuesday adopted two real estate-related bills to promote reconstruction of natural disaster-hit areas.
One of the bills calls for relaxing the requirements for pulling down heavily damaged apartment buildings so they will not get in the way of reconstruction after disasters.
The other would allow a short-term land lease of five years or less in disaster areas, compared with the minimum 10 years in principle under the current law.