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TANABE, Wakayama Pref. (Kyodo) The unusually severe winter is taking a toll in unexpected parts of this warm Pacific coast region, with tropical fish from the south hitching a ride on the north-bound Black Current only to die here in the cold.

According to a recent study by Kyoto University associate professor Shin Kubota, species such as Moorish idol and blowfish have been washing ashore since mid-January.

On Jan. 16, snow fell even in southern Wakayama Prefecture, where the winters are usually mild, due to an intense cold air mass, according to data from the local meteorological observatory. The next day, the water temperature in the town of Shirahama had plunged to 13.2, down about 16 from earlier in the month, Kubota said.

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