Sightings of rare fish in Japan spark fears of natural disasters
news.com.au -- Feb 04
Recent sightings of a rare, serpent-like sea creature — which in Japanese lore, is thought to be a harbinger of natural disasters — have sent Japan’s social media into a frenzy.

“This is no doubt evidence of a precursor to an earthquake,” wrote one Twitter user following two separate discoveries of “oarfish” off the north-coast prefecture of Toyama last week.

“And if it is in the Nankai Trough, it might be a huge quake,” they said.

Photos posted on Instagram showed one of the two deep-sea dwellers — which reportedly measured three and four metres, respectively. One was found on the shore of Toyama Bay and the other got caught in a fishing net near the port of Imizu.

According to Japanese legend, the fish will purposely rise to the surface and beach themselves whenever they believe trouble’s on the way. Residents have reported their presence before the arrivals of tsunamis and earthquakes in the past — including the 2011 Fukushima quake.

However, experts have said not to worry.

“The link to reports of seismic activity goes back many, many years, but there is no scientific evidence of a connection so I don’t think people need to worry,” explained Hiroyuki Motomura, a professor of ichthyology at Kagoshima University who spoke to the South China Morning Post.

“I believe these fish tend to rise to the surface when their physical condition is poor, rising on water currents, which is why they are so often dead when they are found,” he said.

Still, the sightings weren’t sitting so well with social media users this week.

“What is going on under Toyama Bay?” tweeted one concerned Japanese resident.

“Is something happening deep in the sea?” another asked.

Many on Japan’s 5-Channel chat site were reportedly referring to the oarfish — which translates to “Messenger from the Sea God’s Palace” — as a “warning” sign.

“There is no scientific evidence at all for the theory that oarfish appear around big quakes. But we cannot 100 per cent deny the possibility,” said Uozu Aquarium keeper Kazusa Saiba, speaking to CNN on the weekend.

“It could be that global warming might have an impact on the appearance of oarfish or a reason we’re just not aware of.”

News source: news.com.au
Mar 19
Japan's space probe operating on an asteroid some 340 million kilometers from Earth is preparing to study the asteroid's interior by creating an artificial impact crater. (NHK)
Mar 13
Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it will jointly develop a rover to be sent to the moon in 2029, amid fierce global competition to explore Earth’s natural satellite. (Japan Times)
Mar 09
A huge dead sperm whale has been found on a beach in eastern Japan. (NHK)
Mar 06
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency says its Hayabusa2 space probe will attempt to make a crater in the asteroid Ryugu next month. (NHK)
Mar 06
A Japanese health ministry panel has approved a clinical study to transplant cornea tissues developed from human iPS cells, or induced pluripotent stem cells. (NHK)
Mar 02
While some people don't like wasabi on their sushi, it turns out that potentially deadly fire ants don't have an appetite for it either. (Asahi)
Feb 27
A Japanese government panel says the maximum probability of a magnitude-seven earthquake occurring along the Japan Trench in the next 30 years is more than 90 percent. (NHK)
Feb 22
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, says data from the Hayabusa2 space probe shows it had landed on the asteroid Ryugu. The spacecraft's task is to collect rock samples. (NHK)
Feb 21
There have been several horned owl sightings in residential areas of Tokyo. Police are looking for the bird to protect it and prevent it from harming people. (NHK)
Feb 19
The health ministry on Monday approved the world's first clinical test in which artificially derived stem cells will be used to treat patients with spinal cord injuries. (Japan Times)