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LONG BEACH, Wash. Several tropical fish from Japan were recovered alive from a vessel that washed ashore last weekend near Long Beach, Wash.

The boat is thought to be a piece of tsunami debris that made its way to Washington after the March 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan.

More: Fishing boat on WA coast may be tsunami debris

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife speculate the boat remained upright during its 5,000-mile drift across the Pacific Ocean. An official from the department discovered the fish in a bait box while he was collecting samples of marine organisms from the beached vessel.

The non-native fish were identified as striped beakfish, which are found primarily in shallow Asian waters such as coral reefs. The fish are about 4-and-a-half inches long and appear to have survived the trip by feeding on other organisms in the boat.

This is a fascinating discovery that provides further evidence of the unusual transport mechanism for non-native species associated with marine debris generated by the Japanese tsunami, said Steve Rumrill from the Department of Fish and Wildlife in a news release Friday.

A live beakfish is being examined by scientists at the Seaside Aquarium in Oregon. The bait box in which the fish were found also contained seaweed, crabs, barnacles, amphipods and other marine organisms.

Photos: Japanese tropical fish found on WA tsunami boat

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