Arctic lamprey

This photograph of Arctic lampreys is taken from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.

FAIRBANKS—Adult Arctic lampreys have fallen from the sky four times this week in Fairbanks, including at the Value Village parking lot, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

That's unusual for a fish that's seldom seen in the water up here.

The Arctic lamprey is a roughly foot-long eel-like fish with a no jaw and a nightmarish looking set of teeth.

This week, a live one was spotted at the Value Village on Airport Way and saved in a bucket, according to a post on the department's Facebook page (on.fb.me/1G7su0B). There have been three additional reports of lampreys out of water this week, one on someone's lawn.

Gulls are probably to blame for picking up and dropping the lampreys, according to the post. The fish spawn in the Chena River. But because lampreys aren't well understood, the department encourages people to call 459-7206 if they spot more.

Unlike invasive sea lampreys that have caused trouble in the Lower 48, the Arctic lamprey is native to Alaska.

Arctic lampreys have an anadromous lifecycle like salmon. 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. In the Lower Yukon River subsistence fishermen harvest adult lampreys returning up the river in November, according to an article Fish and Game educator Erik Anderson wrote about the species in 2007 (1.usa.gov/1H2jF96). Less is known about adult lampreys in the Fairbanks area. They're not easily caught with a typical net or with a fishing hook.

Contact the newsroom at 459-7572.