Oregon scientists are trying to figure out how a fish, native to Japan, was pulled out of a crab pot on the Oregon coast - alive.
“I’ve been thinking about it ever since I heard about it,” says John Chapman, an invasive species expert at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.
He says there’s only a handful of ways the striped knifejaw could make it here: in the ballast water of a ship; someone could have dumped their aquarium into the ocean; or the fish survived under debris washed out to sea after the Japanese tsunami.
“I think what we should do is consider very strongly that here’s a tsunami thing and what it means very possibly is that lots of things came across with the tsunami debris that got away,” says Chapman.
Five of the fish were found alive in a small Japanese boat near Long Beach in 2013 - that was a couple of years after the tsunami.
Chapman thinks more than 200 new species of barnacle, seaweed and maybe now fish, have made it to Oregon by living on man-made debris, which can survive much longer in open ocean than natural debris.