It is a belief by some in Japan that oarfish sightings are a sign that a natural disaster is coming, and there have been seven sightings so far this season.
In 2011, Japan was hit by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami that would change the country forever. We mean that in almost every sense of the phrase. The natural disaster was so large that it legitimately altered the geography of parts of Japan. It also claimed more than 15,000 lives and all these years later, there are still people affected by it.
That's why any hint that a similar disaster might be imminent is cause for alarm in Japan. Some people believe that those hints have started to arrive. In the months prior to the disaster in 2011, creatures that normally don't come closer to the surface than 100m below it called oarfish started to wash up on the shore.
Many now believe the washing up of these oarfish was a sign that an earthquake was incoming. That's what makes a recent CNN report so worrying. During this current season, there have been seven oarfish sightings. Some have washed up on the shore while others have been caught up in fishermen's nets. Oarfish tend to be more than ten feet long, so there is no missing them.
While some think that the appearance of these oarfish is a harbinger of another disaster, experts are not on the same page. "There is no scientific evidence at all for the theory that oarfish appear around big quakes," Uozu Aquarium keeper Kazusa Saiba told CNN. The more scientific explanation is that global warming or the migration of the oarfish's food to the surface is what is causing them to appear more often.
Japan is a country steeped in belief and tradition. Plus, considering most of the country will still be able to vividly remember the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, any potential sign that it might happen again is going to be considered a scary one. While it might seem strange to hope that anything is being caused by climate change, in this instance, we hope oarfish coming to the surface is due to that and not due to another earthquake imminently arriving.