Speed Reads

a fish tale

'Herman the Sturgeon' adds surviving a wildfire to his list of near-death experiences

Do fish, like cats, have nine lives? They surely must, because a 79-year-old fish has reportedly survived the Columbia River Gorge fires in Oregon, adding yet another "wild" story to his collection, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports.

"Herman" is a freshwater sturgeon, although he looks a little more like a benign seamonster at 500 pounds and 11 feet long. His current home is in a pond at the Sturgeon Viewing Interpretive Center at the Bonneville Hatchery, which was potentially at risk of taking in water clogged with ash from the Oregon fires. Ashy water can cause respiratory problems for aquatic animals, and many other hatcheries in the region had to be evacuated.

Herman, though, avoided evacuation because his pond water comes from a well, Michelle Dennehy of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) told OPB.

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Dennehy added that surviving a wild fire is not the only near-death experience in Herman's "wild life." He also pulled through a kidnapping in 1983 and was once stabbed by a man who jumped into his pond, only to be nursed back to health by hatchery staff. Herman is now visited by some 500,000 people a year, WPXI News reports.

Still, if the fires creep too close, the ODFW is "preparing for possible emergency evacuations of fish stocks, and has trucks and raceway space ready to go if fish — including Herman — need to move," OPB writes.