Is an earthquake about to hit the Philippines?

Is an earthquake about to hit the Philippines?
23 Feb
2017

Giant oarfish described as 'messengers of the sea' have been washing ashore in the Philippines in recent days, triggering fears an earthquake is about to hit.

A number of bizarre-looking creatures, which usually live at depths of 3,000ft, have been found dead along the country's coasts.

Many locals and some scientists believe these so-called 'sea serpents' wash up onto shore by strong currents that precede quakes.

There has been examples of this happening as recently as this month.

A giant oarfish was found on a beach in Agusan del Norte in the Philippines just days before a killer earthquake ravaged Mindanao island on 11 February.

Five more oarfish were found around the coast in the days following the 6.3 quake.

Eight people were killed and 200 injured which sparked social media discussion about the link between these creatures and natural disasters.

The latest find on Saturday was of a creature on a beach in the city of Cagayan de Oro, measuring around 15 feet long.

An official from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said a similar earthquake could happen in Cagayan de Oro City anytime.

'This is not to scare people but to spread awareness, to encourage the local government units to collaborate with us and for them to know what should be done', the Regional Director Marcial Labininay told Filipino website sunstar.com.

Mr Labininay dismissed claims that the emergence of oarfish signals impending disaster and said it was based on superstition.

Scientists have suggested this deep-dwelling species might be pushed onto the continental shelf by strong currents.

Shallower waters are typically rougher which means they are more likely to suffer fatal damage.

Oarfish normally feed on crustaceans and are unlikely to be able to find them in shallower waters. All the ones sighted are either dead or dying.

They are naturally blue, purple and red, but this colour quickly disappears when they die.

Their crimson-colored dorsal fin resembles a mane.

First sighted in 1772, they are the world's longest bony fish and have long been connected to myths.

Seismologists from Japan refer to the beast as the 'Messenger from the Sea God's Palace', and believe they are a sign that an earthquake is coming, according to the National Geographic.

Because they live so deep, humans have struggled to do much research on them.

Its formal scientific title is Regalecus glesne, but the fish is also known as king of the herring, Pacific oarfish, streamer fish and ribbon-fish.

Rachel Grant, a lecturer in animal biology at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge said there might be some truth in the claims that the appearance of oarfish could be linked to earthquakes.

'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 told the Independent.

She believed another possibility was that quantities of carbon monoxide gas are released prior to an earthquake which could affect these deep-sea creatures.

Not much is known about the creature. Studies had previously only been possible when the rare fish has washed ashore dead or dying.

Though the species has only been sighted in a few places worldwide, it is believed to inhabit deep waters around the globe, save for the polar regions.

The fish uses a form of location called amiiform swimming in which its dorsal fin, which runs the length of its sizeable body, undulates while the body itself remains straight and motionless.