Japanese City May Watch Animal Behavior For Early Signs Of Tsunamis

A city in Japan is considering a novel tsunami-warning system based on animal behavior.

Officials in the southwestern coastal city of Susaki have proposed that a study is conducted on whether the rapid lowering of water in wells or chickens squawking loudly for no obvious reason can foretell an imminent tsunami.

As deputy mayor Yoshihito Myojin told one regional broadcaster late last month:

“They may not foretell a future disaster in a perfectly accurate manner, but the most important thing is to analyse such data thoroughly.”

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In Japanese society, tales of abnormal animal behavior and other unusual natural phenomena have long been thought to be precursors to an incoming disaster. Such behavior may include the unconventional movement of fish, or cats fleeing their homes. Yet little actual science has been carried out to test such ideas.

In April, a number of experts warned that a 115-foot tsunami could be on the way to Japan’s eastern coast following a massive earthquake in the Pacific Ocean. Worst case scenario projections such as this were revised following last year’s disaster.

The Japanese tsunami of March 2011 was triggered by a 9.0-magnitude tremor off northeastern Japan. The disaster saw more than 18,000 people lose their lives.