Rare ‘tsunami fish’ spotted off California coast

Rare ‘tsunami fish’ spotted off California coast

MONTEREY, CA (KION/CNN) - A rare “tsunami fish” has reappeared off the California coast.

The fish is believed to have migrated from Japan to the West Coast on tsunami debris that floated across the Pacific.

The fish has a distinct appearance with its seven vertical bars and black tip.

“That’s not (like) any of the fish we have out here,” said Nicholas Ta who is a diver.

"That guy sticks out kind of like a sore thumb," said Dennis Lewis, another diver.

Ta and Lewis were diving when they came across the barred knife jaw in 2014.

The fish is a native of Asia but is believed to have traveled on debris across the Pacific, following the 2011 tsunami in Japan, giving it the nickname, the “tsunami fish.”

Ta has been keeping record and three others have officially spotted the unique fish in the Monterey Bay, mostly at the breakwall at San Carlos Beach.

"Based on its natural history, you'll see that it likes rocky reefs or wrecks, high, complex reefs," Ta said.

But the fish went three years unseen until it reappeared in October.

The water off the West Coast is much colder than in Japan, which makes it even more surprising the fish could survive in Monterey Bay.

“If there’s a will there’s a way. He showed up with an appetite and found some food and is just hanging out with the fish out here,” Lewis said.

Ecologists are also wondering if it is an invasive species, but it doesn't look like it.

The fish has also been spotted in Oregon and Washington state.

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