New Asian 'Tsunami Fish' Causes a Stir with Oregon Coast Scientists
(Newport, Oregon) – The Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport will be the next home for what appears to be yet another tsunami fish found on the Oregon coast – this time discovered on the southern coast at Port Orford. Called the knifejaw, this unusual fish is believed to have come overseas from its native waters off Japan and Korea, probably carried along by tsunami debris from the 2011 earthquake in Japan. (Above: knifejaw photo by Seaside Aquarium).
It's the second such fish now in captivity in an Oregon beach town. The first – discovered two years ago on the Washington coast – is still alive and well at the Seaside Aquarium.
The appearance in Oregon waters of the fish (Oplegnathus fasciatus), which is sometimes called a barred knifejaw or striped beakfish, may not be related to the tsunami at all, said Hatfield scientists. It does, however, raise the possibility the fish may have started to populate these waters – although Hatfield scientists insist that is still too premature a judgment.
OSU’s John Chapman, an aquatic invasive species specialist, said it's possible the fish wound up in the ballast of a ship or perhaps was released from a home aquarium somewhere.
“But finding a second knifejaw nearly two years after the discovery of fish in a drifting Japanese boat certainly gets my attention,” Chapman said.
In March 2013, five striped knifejaws were found alive in a boat near Long Beach, Washington, that had drifted over from Japan. Four of the fish were euthanized, but one was taken to the Seaside Aquarium, where it is on display.
OSU marine ecologist Jessica Miller examined the four euthanized knifejaws from Washington in 2013, analyzing their otoliths, or ear bones, for clues to their origin.
Miller said these fish are attracted to floating objects that carry food sources, and some new tsunami debris had just washed in on the southern Oregon coast recently.
“The species is also found in other parts of Asia and the northwest Hawaiian islands, so it is native to a broader range than just Japan,” she said. “At this time, there is no evidence that they are successfully reproducing in Oregon.”
Another scientist connected to the Hatfield first began caring for the fish before ODFW transported it to Newport. Tom Calvanese called Keith Chandler at the Seaside Aquarium for input and was advised to feed the fish razor clams, which it ate right up.
OSU scientist Sam Chan said the fish looked to be only about one or two years old, which would make it impossible for it to be a part of the wave of tsunami debris.
Adding to the mystery: Chandler said he did not believe a population of these kind of fish would be able to get a foothold here because they stand out to predators.
The knifejaw will be studied further by the Hatfield after a period of quarantine. See a brief video of the fish on you-tube: http://youtu.be/XzA4NPXTYqg.
Oregonians who believe they have spotted an invasive species are encouraged to report it at http://oregoninvasiveshotline.org, or call 1-866-INVADER.
Below, more of the knifejaw, courtesy of Seaside Aquarium - and more of Newport.
More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....
More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....
LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles
Back to Oregon Coast
Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net