Sightings of a rare oarfish in New Zealand may be exciting for scientists hoping to get hold of a new DNA sample to work with, but some researchers believe it is possible that oarfish sightings can be a way of predicting natural disasters like earthquakes.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, in New Zealand a rare oarfish was found and photographed without anyone realizing how amazing their find really was until after the fact. To make matters worse, the oarfish disappeared from the beach and now it is hoped by experts that no one tried eating the 10-foot long sea serpent.
As it so happens, experts are uncertain about the cause of death for the oarfish in New Zealand. The creature seemed to be in perfect shape, with nothing obvious in its physical condition indicating how or why it died.
According to Rachel Grant, a lecturer in animal biology at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, the Japanese have a legend where oarfish are sighted right before an earthquake occurs. The folklore goes that the dragon god of the sea uses the oarfish as its messenger, and so sighting a dead oarfish means run for the hills.
While Grant isn’t saying there is an undersea god sending up dead fish to warn us, she does believe there is something to the legend.
“It’s theoretically possible because when an earthquake occurs there can be a build-up of pressure in the rocks which can lead to electrostatic charges that cause electrically-charged ions to be released into the water,” Dr Grant said, according to the Independent. “This can lead to the formation of hydrogen peroxide, which is a toxic compound. The charged ions can also oxidise organic matter which could either kill the fish or force them to leave the deep ocean and rise to the surface. The geophysical processes behind these kinds of sighting can happen before an earthquake.”
The researcher does caution that a sighting of a rare oarfish like in New Zealand does not always occur prior to an earthquake. In addition, it’s possible the unexplained deaths of these sea serpents may be due to pollution or other underwater activity.
Regardless, scientists are saddened that they were not able to get hold of the rare oarfish in New Zealand. According to University of Otago NZ Marine Studies Centre manager Tessa Mills, they would have liked to have ridden out to the salt marsh to collect the 10-foot long oarfish, but preserving the large creature is considered “dangerous and expensive.”
”Ngai Tahu, [a tribe local to the area], have to be involved for certain species – it’s always difficult on how to get hold of the specimen. You can’t just drop tools and go and collect it.”
Some scientists even believe there are multiple species of oarfish, but not many DNA samples have been obtained in the past. According to the Otago Daily Times, Otago Museum natural science curator Emma Burns said they were able to take a sample from the oarfish discovered at Aramoana, and its DNA will be available to genetics researchers.