Fishermen caught a 16-foot oarfish off the coast of Chile last week, leaving many locals concerned as the sea creature is considered a “bad omen” to whoever crosses its path.
The Chilean locals speculated that sight of the fish indicates that a potential earthquake might hit the nation soon, with many pointing to the time dozens of oarfish rose to the surface off the Japanese coast before the 2011 Fukushima earthquake as a reason for worry, the Daily Star reported.
Footage of the oarfish hanging from a hook was reportedly filmed in the city of Arica. However, the video could not be independently verified by The Western Journal.
The oarfish, also known as the “King of the Herrings,” lives deep in the ocean and rises to the surface when it is sick, dying or breeding, but it is believed that it may leave its home due to weather changes.
The viral TikTok video, liked by 10 million users, left many viewers worried as to whether the fish was a sign of future disaster.
“And now where do we escape?” one viewer queeried.
Another viewer commented that oarfish “start to the surface” when “the tectonic plates are in movement.”
This theory was challenged, however, according to Science Times. Seismologist Yoshiaki Orihara published a scientific study, concluding that the correlation between oarfish and earthquakes is difficult to prove.
“Their study, titled ‘Is Japanese Folklore Concerning Deep‐Sea Fish Appearance a Real Precursor of Earthquakes?’ published in the ‘Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America,’ reveals that a relationship between deep‐sea fish appearances and earthquakes was hardly found. That means that the Japanese folklore about these phenomena is just a superstition,” the Times explained.
The serpent-like creature has become a mythical legend for supposedly telling the future, especially after Japan, and many believe whoever comes across an oarfish is supposedly cursed.
“Imagine being swimming and you know that appears … I’m dying,” one viewer said, according to the Daily Star.
Isaac Williams came close to the 12-foot beast while in the water. Wondering what the animal was, he dragged it to shore.
It just so happened that a marine biologist was on the beach when Williams found the fish.
“So I went and took a look. That’s when I identified the fish,” said Bridie Allan, a lecturer at the University of Otago. “They are super rare. This is about the fifth sighting in New Zealand.”
Williams said he tried putting the oarfish back in the water, but it kept returning to shore unable to swim away.
Posing no threat to humans, large oarfish only eat crustaceans, small fish and other small sea creatures.
In 1963, an oarfish caught in New Jersey was rumored to have measured 49 feet in length.
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