Japan is fearing a devastating earthquake or tsunami is on the horizon after seven giant deep-sea fish washed up on its coast in what many see as a doomsday warning.
A four-metre-long (13.12ft) oarfish was found on Monday tangled in a fishnet off the port of Imizu is the latest in the spate of unexplained deaths. The creatures, which can grow up to as long as much as 11 metres, are believed to be an indicator of doom in Japanese mythology. The fish apparently come to the surface and beach themselves when an earthquake is nearing. Scientific theories support the lore, as bottom-dwelling fish are susceptible to movements in seismic fault lines and act uncharacteristically before an earthquake.
Oarfish are rarely seen, living deep in the ocean. The Japanese connect these rare "messengers from the sea god's palace" with earthquakes, believing that they beach themselves before the disasters. Scientists report there is no definite connection between the appearance of the fish and significant earthquakes, but there are some scientists who are not so sure.
There are some who believe the fish are more sensitive to seismic activity because they live so close to the sea floor. There is little evidence supporting this. Their deep-sea home also makes them difficult to study. As a result, it is difficult to know what has driven the fish up from the depths. Maybe they are following their food supply, or perhaps they are carrying a dire warning.
Twelve of the messengers were found leading up to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Do these seven carry a similar message?