Saturday, March 6, 2010
Oarfish omen spells earthquake disaster for Japan
Japan is bracing itself after dozens of rare giant oarfish - traditionally the harbinger of a powerful earthquake - have been washed ashore or caught in fishermen's nets.
The appearance of the fish follows Saturday's destructive 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile and the January 12 tremors in Haiti, which claimed an estimated 200,000 lives.
A quake with a magnitude of 6.4 has also struck southern Taiwan.
This rash of tectonic movements around the Pacific "Rim of Fire" is heightening concern that Japan - the most earthquake-prone country in the world - is next in line for a major earthquake.
Those concerns have been stoked by the unexplained appearance of a fish that is known traditionally as the Messenger from the Sea God's Palace.
The giant oarfish can grow up to five metres in length and is usually to be found at depths of 1,000 metres and very rarely above 200 metres from the surface. Long and slender with a dorsal fin the length of its body, the oarfish resembles a snake.In recent weeks, 10 specimens have been found either washed ashore or in fishing nets off Ishikawa.