The Earth is getting restless. At least that’s what recent seismic and geologic data seem to indicate. Volcano systems all around the world have been displaying increased activity, leading some to predict massive worldwide eruptions some time in our near future. Great. Just when I cancel my volcano insurance (yes, it’s real).

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Robot insurance just seemed like such a more pressing need.

Aside from the rumblings below ground, other natural indicators of oncoming seismic unrest are being detected. One of the strangest and most unexplained forewarnings of earthquakes is the oarfish, a massive and elusive fish which bears the distinction of being the longest bony fish on Earth. Oarfish can grow up to 11 meters (36 feet) in length and live deep underwater. For some odd reason, oarfish seem to wash up dead just ahead of earthquakes.

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Nature's seismograph.

If these oarfish predictions are true, then residents of the Philippines might have cause for concern. According to local news reports, several oarfish have washed ashore throughout the Philippine islands in recent weeks. Up to six oarfish have been found on Philippine beaches since January, leading some to believe that dire seismic events might be in the island chain’s near future.

Local residents posed with the oarfish and posted pictures to social media, naturally.

To add to the doomsaying in the South Pacific, Queensland Parks and Wildlife services have reported entire kilometers of Australia’s eastern shoreline covered in dead fish. While pollution has been speculated to be the cause, wildlife officials are still investigating. Could these fish have been killed by gasses released by underwater volcanic activity? Perhaps the same forces which killed the oarfish also led to the demise of these thousands of fish. But then again, they could be entirely unrelated.

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They might not be giant oarfish, but they are nonetheless worrisome. And smelly.

The oarfish isn’t alone in being able to somehow indicate oncoming earthquakes. Many other animals have been known to display strange behavior shortly before earthquakes strike, sometimes weeks in advance. Nature is weird. 

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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