Five striped beak fish were found submerged in the hold of a 20-foot fishing boat after it washed up on the southern Washington state coast.
The Sai-shou-maru was traced back to the same region of northeastern Japan devastated in the titanic ocean surge generated by the March 11, 2011, earthquake.
The fish were apparently scooped up as the boat was tossed by the massive tidal surge and washed offshore.
Scientists believe the fish fed off tiny organisms that were encrusted on or attached to the vessel.
Other stowaways on the trans-Pacific voyage in the boat included various types of algae, crabs, marine worms, shellfish and anemones.
It’s fortunate the fish had the movaable feast available since a broad stretch of the central Pacific is devoid of the kind of marine life that are typical in coastal waters.
But scientists treated the stowaway species as potentially invasive non-native creatures that could disrupt the natural ecological balance of the Pacific Northwest waters.
They were removed from the boat, which was also scraped and steam-cleaned as a precaution. The striped beaks are now a popular attraction at a Washington aquarium.
Photo: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife