Something very fishy in Fairbanks, where it’s raining lampreys

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Arctic lampreys can measure up to 15 inches. Photo: Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Something peculiar is occurring in Fairbanks, Alaska, where fish are falling from the sky.

Not just any fish, but Arctic lampreys, which are small and eel-like, and seldom seen in Fairbanks.

At least four lampreys have been discovered on the ground and reported to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

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Arctic lampreys can measure 15 inches, and are seldom seen in Fairbanks. Photo: Alaska Department of Fish and Game

One was found in a parking lot, another on a front lawn, and so on.

So what could possibly explain this bizarre phenomenon?

The Department of Fish and Game offered a probable answer on Facebook:

"The answer is probably gulls. Gulls are picking them out of the [nearby] Chena River with their bills and then dropping the squirming critters while in flight.”

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One of the lampreys found in Fairbanks. Photo: Alaska Department of Fish and Game

The post continues: "Arctic lampreys spawn in the Chena River, and live in the mud underwater as juveniles for several years. However, many lifelong Alaskans have never seen one of these fascinating fish up close because their body shape and feeding habits make them difficult to catch."

Arctic lampreys are anadromous, spending part of their lives in the ocean and part in fresh water. Adult lampreys die during the spawning process, soon after egg fertilization is achieved.

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Lampreys use their disk-shaped, tooth-filled mouths to latch onto other fish. Photo: Alaska Department of Fish and Game

The most glaring physical feature of an adult lamprey is its round, disk-shaped mouth, filled with razor-sharp teeth. Lampreys are parasitic and latch onto other fish to feed on their blood and body fluids.

Most larger fish, however, survive this uncomfortable experience, as the lamprey will release its grip after finishing its meal.

Hardly the kind of critter you’d want to see raining from the sky.

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