Fishermen Spark Panic Catching a ‘Doomsday’ Fish

Fisherman in a Thai fishing village have sparked fears of an earthquake or tsunami after finding a ‘doomsday’ fish in their daily catch.

A Harbinger Oarfish – known as the earthquake fish – was caught by fishermen from the La-ngu district of the Satun Province. They were fishing in the Andaman Sea when they pulled up the oarfish in their nets.

Image from Jam Press

The fish, which can reach lengths of 17 metres, is rarely seen by the human eye as it is usually found in the deepest waters of 1,000 metres. Legend says that seeing an Oarfish in shallow waters is a sign that an earthquake will hit.

The catch of the long snake-looking, plankton eating fish in normal fishing waters has spooked locals who now fear a natural disaster is looming.

One local called Watcharapong said: “Oarfish, nicknamed the ‘earthquake fish’, is a deep-sea fish. When it surfaces, earthquakes often occur.”

Another called Boomerange added: “Encountering an oarfish in the vicinity of Satun may indicate a potential concern for an earthquake along the Andaman coast. And there could be a tsunami as well.”

Image from Jam Press

But a lecturer from Kasetsart University  Dr Thō̜n Thamrongnāwāsawat said that he believed that cold water entering the Andaman Sea due to the Indian Ocean Dipole was why this fish was in such shallow waters.

He said: “While unusual events occur in the ocean, understanding the context helps avoid unnecessary alarm.”

This Oarfish is related to a fish in Japan known as “Messengers from the Sea God’s Palace”. The Japanese believe that if one of these fish is spotted then an earthquake is imminent.

Japanese geologist Kiyoshi Wadatsumi said that there is a report that shows deep sea fish living near the bottom of the ocean are more sensitive to the movements of active faults than fish and creatures who are closer to the surface.