Could giant oarfish washing up on beaches indicate that a massive earthquake is not far behind? That’s the hypothesis scientists are considering. Rare sightings of the elusive deep sea fish are being noted to increase ahead of earthquakes.
NBC News reports that scientists suspect the increasing appearances of the rarely seen oarfish might be a reaction to the signs preceding large earthquakes. Some are pointing to the 20 oarfish that washed ashore in Japan ahead of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, as the Japanese call the oarfish ryugu no tsukai or “messenger from the sea god’s palace.” Dozens of oarfish also came up from the deep ahead of the powerful 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile. Two recent sightings along the California coast now has researchers looking into animal reactions to earthquake precursors.
It’s no secret that animals can sense things that humans cannot. Animals have long been known to sense an earthquake before it happens. Officials at the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park noted that animals gave distress calls and began seeking shelter in the minutes before a 5.8 earthquake rattled Washington, D.C. in 2010.
Physicists at the University of Virginia are now investigating reports of animal behavior prior to earthquakes. They have discovered that rocks emit high levels of ozone gas when they grind together. Perhaps animals can detect the rise of ozone.
Of course, researchers warn that this isn’t a way to predict earthquakes, merely an indicator that the earth is moving and something could follow.
Read more about this fascinating story at NBC News.