FAIRBANKS -- One arctic lamprey dropped in at the parking lot of Value Village, while another landed on a lawn and two others have landed on hard ground.
The sites are not far from the Chena River, and the eel-like lampreys show signs of cuts, leading biologists of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to offer a theory about this fish-out-of-water story: Perhaps ambitious gulls lifted them out of the river but couldn't hold onto the wiggling fish, the department said in a Facebook post.
"In Fairbanks, some people have never seen a lamprey despite their abundance in the Chena River. This is because as juveniles, they live their lives down in the mud, and as adults, they migrate under the ice," Erik Anderson, an educator in the state sport fish division, wrote in a 2007 account of local lampreys. He said they look more like snakes or eels than other types of fish. They are not eels but jawless fish.
Fish and Game said the Value Village staff put the lamprey into a bucket of water and brought it into the store. As of Wednesday afternoon, the lamprey was still alive in the fish tank at the Fish and Game offices in Fairbanks. The other lampreys were dead.