Mysterious Eel-Like Fish Seem to Be Dropping From the Sky in Alaska

Nation/World
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There are flying fish, and then there are the variety witnessed by residents of Fairbanks, Alaska. These have literally been dropping from the sky, it seems.

A lamprey is shown latched on to the fish tank glass in Fairbanks office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which posted this photo on Facebook June 3, 2015.
A lamprey is shown latched on to the fish tank glass in Fairbanks office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which posted this photo on Facebook June 3, 2015.

Four eel-like fish called lampreys have been found in odd locations around Fairbanks, far from the water, according to Mike Taras of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Most were dead, but one was found alive outside a Fairbanks thrift store.

“Two gentleman came in and asked if we have a bucket with water because there’s an eel in your parking lot,” said the store’s manager, Sue Valdrow.

She put the fish, which was about a foot long, into a container of water and called officials.

At this point, nobody knows for sure, but the Alaska Department of Fish and Game believes the answer is gulls, according to a department Facebook post from Wednesday. The birds are likely catching the fish from the Chena River and then dropping them during their flight.

A lamprey is shown in a plastic container of water. (Credit: Alaska Department of Fish & Game)
A lamprey is shown in a plastic container of water. (Credit: Alaska Department of Fish & Game)

“If you look closely at them, they have holes on both sides that may have been made by a gull or some other kind of bird,” notes Taras.

A photo album posted to Facebook by the department were titled “Funny Fish Falling From The Sky!”

Even in their natural habitat, lampreys are strange fish, with disconcerting feeding habits. The young are blind and live in the mud for years, feeding on algae and microorganisms.

As adults, they are parasites, attaching to other fish and relying on them for subsistence. They die soon after spawning.

“I wasn’t sure what to do when lampreys fall from the sky,” Sue Valdrow told CNN. “I’ve lived in Alaska for 12 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

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