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"Ready for dinner"
The mysterious appearance of two rare, giant oarfish off the coast of Southern California sparked rumors that an earthquake was soon to follow. As Salon wrote just three days ago:
A rumor circulating online … claims that in Japanese lore, beached oarfish portend earthquakes. Scientists contacted by ABC News could neither confirm nor deny the theory that the oarfish are seismologically attuned and committed suicide in anticipation of a quake, so we’ll have to just wait and see on that front.
It was mostly tongue-in-cheek. But those words are now a bit eerie, seeing as how a 7.3 magnitude earthquake just struck off the coast of Japan.
Naturally, the rumor mill’s back in action:
... not one day ago, a @Scripps_Ocean oceanographer "debunked" the ancient Japanese belief tying oarfish sightings to impending earthquakes.— Inkosi Inkosikazi (@AnonyNewsNet) October 25, 2013
Major earthquake hits off the coast of Japan -- just as the oarfish foretold!— Mark Masek (@CemeteryGuide) October 25, 2013
That last tweet, from Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Calif.), references retired geologist Jim Berkland, who claimed to have a system for using animal behavior to predict earthquakes.
“It’s probably just a coincidence,” Rick Feeney, a zoologist at the U.S. Natural History museum, recently said of the oarfish’s rumored ability to predict earthquakes. But was it? As Live Science reported Tuesday, there’s a long, anecdotal history of animals appearing to sense tremors. And in 2011, the last time a massive earthquake hit Japan, 20 beached oarfish were reportedly discovered shortly beforehand.
No immediate damage was detected on land from today’s earthquake.
Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email email@example.com.More Lindsay Abrams.
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