Sightings of rare oarfish in Japan raise fears of earthquake and tsunami

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Fears of an incoming natural disaster in Japan are swirling online after sightings of a deep-water fish believed to be a harbinger of earthquakes and tsunamis.

On Friday, two oarfish were discovered after being caught in fishing nets off the northern prefecture of Toyama, bringing the total found this season to seven. Earlier this week, a 3.2-meter (10.5 foot) oarfish washed up on the shore of Toyama Bay, while a 4-meter (13 foot) long oarfish was tangled in a fishing net off the port of Imizu.

Japan’s social media has gone into nervous overdrive following the discovery of a number of deep-sea fish traditionally thought to be harbingers of natural disaster.

 

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#うおすいレア生物 #またまたまた #リュウグウノツカイ 昨日、新湊の定置網でリュウグウノツカイが水揚げされましたっっ🐉 今度の大きさは301.8cmとなっております👍✨ これで今年度7例目です❗️ 前回獲れたリュウグウノツカイと一緒に2匹並べて展示をします❗️ そして今回もリュウグウノツカイの体に触れちゃいます😆✨ さて、どんな感触かな? リュウグウノツカイが2匹も並んでる姿なんて魚津水族館でしか見れないんじゃないですか❗️❓ 写真撮影待ってるぜ✌️ #幻の魚oarfish#deepsea#nature#beautiful#魚#珍魚#さかな#魚津水族館公式#魚津水族館#水族館#富山#uozuaquarium#aquarium#uozuaquariumoffcial#限定#レア#魚津#新湊#でけぇ#7匹目#どんどん上がる#レア感#写真撮影#タッチOK🙆‍♀️#2匹同時展示#うおすい初#ダイオウイカ来ないかなー

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On Monday, an oarfish measuring nearly four metres from snout to tail was found tangled in a fishing net off the port of Imizu, in the north-coast prefecture of Toyama. The fish was already dead but was later taken to the nearby Uozu Aquarium to be studied.

Even the species’ traditional Japanese name, ryugu no tukai – which translates as “messenger from the palace of the dragon king” – hints at its links to natural disasters in the past.

According to lore, the fish rise to the surface and beach themselves ahead of an impending earthquake. That ties in with scientific theories that bottom-dwelling fish may very well be susceptible to movements in seismic fault lines and act in uncharacteristic ways before an earthquake.

Nevertheless, the oarfish’s reputation as an indicator of imminent doom was enhanced after at least 10 oarfish were washed up along Japan’s northern coastline in 2010. In March 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake struck off northeast Japan, triggering a massive tsunami that killed nearly 19,000 people and destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant.

With that anniversary looming, people on social media became jittery about the omens.

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