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.
The elusive oarfish live between 200 and 1,000 meters (650 to 3,200 feet) deep and are characterized by silvery skin and red fins.
Traditionally known as “Ryugu no tsukai” in Japanese, or the “Messenger from the Sea God’s Palace,” legend has it that they beach themselves on shores ahead of underwater earthquakes. But scientists dispute such claims.
“There is no scientific evidence at all for the theory that oarfish appear around big quakes. But we cannot 100% deny the possibility,” Uozu Aquarium keeper Kazusa Saiba told CNN.
“It could be that global warming might have an impact on the appearance of oarfish or a reason we’re just not aware of.”
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SOURCE: CNN, Alex Stambaugh and Yoko Wakatsuki