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Herman the Sturgeon Has Survived Another Catastrophe

The 79-year-old fish is making it through the Eagle Creek Fire.

As Oregon Live reports, after five days of terrible destruction, firefighters have begun to contain the Eagle Creek wildfire in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge—one of several currently scorching the northwestern United States.

In response to the flames, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife evacuated three fish hatcheries in the fire’s proximity, which led some fish aficionados to wonder: What’s going on with Herman, the famous 79-year-old sturgeon, who lives at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery and is widely regarded as “an Oregon icon” and “the state’s most famous fish”?

“Herman is fine,” Michelle Dennehy, a spokesperson for the ODFW, told the outlet yesterday. (A more recent update from Herman’s Facebook page confirms this was still true as of press time.)

He has been riding out the fire out in his home, a special tank at the hatchery’s Sturgeon Viewing Interpretive Center. If things keep heating up, his keepers are ready to evacuate him and the rest of the hatchery’s stock in special trucks.

At ten feet long and almost 500 pounds, Herman’s age and bulk make him special on their own. But he is a very charismatic fish as well: for about 50 years, he was the main attraction of the ODFW’s booth at the Oregon State Fair, where hundreds of thousands of fairgoers marveled at his beauty, size, and calm demeanor. Although he retired in 1985, people still travel to Bonneville to see him, and like any celebrity worth his scales, he maintains a healthy Facebook presence.

He’s also no stranger to danger. In 1983, when Herman was 45 years old, someone tried to kidnap him from his viewing pond, and injured him badly in the process. (Fishery workers spent months helping him heal.) On another occasion, a person jumped into the pond and stabbed Herman with a knife. He bounced back from that, too.

As Herman “himself” put it on Facebook when addressing his concerned fans, “This isn’t my first rodeo, if you know what I mean.”

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