Deep-sea fish considered a sign of impending natural disasters is caught off of Peru just days after several were spotted off of Japan, sparking tsunami fears
- The oarfish was caught off the town of Mancora, a popular surfing resort in Peru
- Several of them have been spotted in Japan this year where the legend began
- They were sighted ahead of the 2011 Fukushima disaster which killed 20,000
A tourist resort in Peru is on earthquake alert after an oarfish – which according to legend is a warning of natural disaster – was caught by a fisherman on the coast.
The oarfish, dubbed the ‘fish of tremors’ for its supposed link to earthquakes, was caught off the town of Mancora, a popular resort for surfers in northern Peru.
It comes after several of the creatures were spotted off Japan, where they were sighted ahead of the 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami which killed 20,000 people and caused a nuclear accident.
Oarfish, which are also believed to have been responsible for claimed sightings of sea serpents by ancient mariners, often grow up to 16 feet (five metres) long.
Danger? This oarfish was caught by a fisherman in a Peruvian tourist resort, sparking fears of an earthquake according to a legend reinforced by the 2011 Fukushima disaster
One species, the giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne), is the world’s longest bony fish, growing up to a length of 36 feet (11 metres).
The fish spend most of their time in the depths of the ocean, at a depth of at least 0.6 miles (one kilometre), and seldom venture near the surface.
For this reason, they are rarely seen despite the fact they are found in all temperate to tropical oceans.
Some researchers suggest the oarfish move into shallower waters due to electromagnetic changes that occur when there is tectonic activity linked to faults.
One Peruvian tried to justify the legend along those lines, saying: ‘It’s not a myth.
Unusual: Oarfish such as this one, caught off the resort of Mancora in Peru, spend most of their time in the depths of the ocean and are rarely seen
Spate of oarfish: Two of the sea creatures that were caught in Japan earlier this year – the country where the legend began – are displayed in an aquarium
‘It’s because those fishes live in very deep waters and go to the surface due to the currents which precede natural disasters.”
But most experts say there is no correlation between the fish and earthquakes, and point out that the fish have also been seen in years when there have been no quakes.
The belief they appear before earthquakes originates in Japan where they are linked to the myth of Namazu, a giant catfish which lives under the country’s islands and supposedly causes earthquakes by thrashing its tail.
Legend says that oarfish, which are known as ‘messengers from the sea god’s palace’ in Japanese, will rise up and beach themselves ahead of an earthquake.
The appearance of oarfish before the 2011 Fukushima disaster, which caused a nuclear meltdown, has given the legend added weight.
Dozens of the fish were also discovered ahead of an 8.8 magnitude earthquake which struck Chile in 2010.