Re-emergence of a Gargantuan Oarfish: Would the Region Face a Tremendous Earthquake?

Cagayan de Oro – On May 31, 2020, community residents in Cagayan de Oro found another massive oarfish washed ashore on the coastline. This mammoth type of fish lives in darkness into the depths of the sea. Known as a sea serpent, oarfish submerged more than 3,000 feet deep, which could be difficult for fishermen and expert researchers to see.

The well-known lore of oarfish to warn the incoming earthquake spread like wildfire in the region. Due to the Japanese traditional stories, many continued to roll down the narratives to convince others to believe that this type of fish appearing from the rock bottoms of the ocean would signal the impending debacles underground. However, Japanese researchers wished to displace and disassemble this lore or false report to disprove the connection of the reappearance of oarfish to warn an incoming earthquake. In 1928, research studies, circulated by the newspapers and academic papers, confirmed no relationships between oarfish emergence and any titanic tremor.

In March 2011, oarfish appeared in Tohoku. The Tohoku earthquake in Japan, which annihilated thousands of lives and destroyed three nuclear reactors, did associate with the appearance of oarfish. Because of this event, the myth grew stronger when some rarely-seen deep-water fish emerged in the shorelines in the years 2009 and 2010 to warn the March 2011 seismic wave. According to the lore, this oarfish called the Messenger from the Palace of Sea God that visited Japan’s seaboards to notify residents of the approaching underground movements and tidal wave.

If this folklore had a chance to be true, community residents should be ready when oarfish reappeared in their shorelines. The oarfish myth could convince, as folk narratives unfolded. However, there could be no scientific aim to contemplate that oarfish could predict the coming earthquake. Researchers and scientists explained that occasional oarfish sightings in shallow water were due to food hunt or any seismic activity underwater. One phenomenon could prove why oarfish appeared in shallow waters. During the El Niño years, the depths of the waters in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean were much chiller than ordinary. The surface water was warmer; however, the depths of water were even cooler during El Niño pushing this oarfish to find some food and swim into the shallow and warmer waters to get food. The extreme coolness underwater could disturb the oarfish’s habitat that urged them to plunge and reel into the sandbanks in search of food planktons.

Japanese researchers mentioned that seawater temperatures changed. In the deep-sea ecosystems, oarfish had to migrate if the habitat changed. Therefore, the oarfish splashed onshore on Pacific seashores did not warn any looming underground eruption after all.

Photo Source: Rodge Cultura, ABS-CBN News