According to the Alaska Department of Game and Fish, a least four times in the past week the agency has received reports of adult Arctic lampreys falling from the sky in various locales around the city of Fairbanks. They say it’s unusual – and not just because the eel-like fish are dropping on the denizens of this inland city, but also because it’s a species relatively uncommon for the region.
The average Arctic lamprey is about a foot long and sports a grisly looking set of chompers.
The ADGF reported on its Facebook page that a live lamprey was discovered at a Value Village store parking lot and was saved in a bucket. The three additional reports included one on a neighborhood lawn.
But before you start believing the incidents were somehow meteorlogical in nature, state biologists assured the public that the falling fish were likely the work of gulls or other large birds that lost their grip of an intended meal found in the nearby Chena River.
The Fairbanks News-Miner reports that unlike invasive sea lampreys that have been problematic in the Great Lakes, the Arctic lamprey is native to Alaska.
Arctic lampreys have an anadromous lifecycle, similar to native salmon, the paper reports. They’re born along muddy riverbanks, travel to the ocean and return to fresh water to spawn. The juvenile fish look like worms and are easy to find in riverbanks.
Over the years we’ve reported several stories about fish falling from the sky – usually the result of a raptor or other shorebird that tried to fly off with something too big to handle. Have you ever seen anything like this?