An Oarfish was found ashore in Barangay Rojales, Carmen, Agusan del Norte, on February 15.
Photo: Elesa Rosé Jane Allocod

Philippines: In the know: Can Oarfish predict earthquakes?
By Nicko Tubo, 20th February 2017;

Days before and after the 6.7-magnitude earthquake that devastated Surigao City and its nearby provinces, multiple sightings of giant Oarfish (Regalecus sp.) in Mindanao were reported.

On February 8, two days before the earthquake that killed eight people and injured more than 200, a 10-foot long Oarfish was found ashore in Carmen, Agusan del Norte, which is located approximately 168 kilometers away from Surigao City.

Since the first sighting, five more Oarfish were found ashore off Mindanao’s northern coast. The latest sighting was last February 18, when a 20-foot Oarfish was found in Barangay Gusa, Cagayan de Oro City. The sea creature was still alive when found by the residents, but it died later.

The sightings have sparked debates and discussions on social media, on whether the sea creature can predict earthquakes.

But do Oarfish have the ability to predict earthquakes?

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Oarfish are the longest bony fish in the sea, growing to 50 feet or more in length.

Oarfish, commonly mistaken as sea serpents, are rare but can be found in areas with tropical and temperate waters like the Philippines. The creature lives near the sea bottom at about 3,000 feet.

NOAA said that not much is known about the habits and life of Oarfish, but most of them come to the surface when injured or dying.

An article posted in National Geographic website said that Oarfish are known in Japan as the “Messenger from the Sea God’s Palace.” According to folklore, if many of the fish wash up, an earthquake is coming.

Kiyoshi Wadatsumi, a scientist who studies earthquakes, said in an article posted on Japan Times that “deep-sea fish living near the sea bottom are more sensitive to the movements of active faults than those near the surface of the sea.”

In a 2010 report of the Daily Telegraph, the appearance of more than a dozen of Oarfish in Japan was followed by destructive earthquakes in Chile, Haiti, and southern Taiwan.

“In ancient times, Japanese people believed that fish warned of coming earthquakes, particularly catfish,” Hiroshi Tajihi, deputy director of the Kobe Earthquake Centre, said in the same report of the Daily Telegraph.

Tajihi, however, said there is no scientific relationship between the sightings and an earthquake.

“These are just old superstitions,” he said.

Rachel Grant, a lecturer in animal biology at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, said in an article posted on the Independent news website in October 2013 that the Japanese traditional belief might be true.

“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,” said Grant.

Grant, however, said that Oarfish sightings can also be caused by other factors not connected with earthquakes.

“It may be due to seismic activity or it may be due to other factors unconnected with earthquakes, such as infrasound caused by underwater activities, such as military submarines, or pollution,” she said.

Experts have different perspectives, but as far as seismologists are concerned, more studies are needed to prove that Oarfish can predict earthquakes.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology also said there are no scientific instruments that can predict when an earthquake will occur.

Source: Sun.Star

Photos: Elesa Rosé Jane Allocod Facebook

Philippines: Another Oarfish washes up in the Philippines
By Sarah Keartes, 19th February 2017;

As residents in the Philippines recover from a recent powerful geological shakeup, some are turning to the sea for warning signs of what’s to come. A ten-foot (3.04m) Oarfish was found in Carmen in the province of Agusan Del Norte days before the quake, and less than a week later, another specimen was found by local fishermen. Could it be that these ‘sea serpents’ are seismic harbingers?

Oarfishes (typically in the genus Regalecus) tend to stick to deep water – up to 1,640 feet (500 metres) down – so it’s no surprise that each beaching event draws so much attention. Their strange appearance, from streamlined bodies to spiny fins, has also made them the perfect characters for lore and myth: in Japan, for example, the animals are known as “ messengers from the sea god’s palace”, and they’ve long been considered a bad earthquake omen.

So do these recent strandings corroborate such traditional beliefs? There could be some scientific basis here, but it’s also important to note that we don’t know much about the lives and ecology of these enigmatic creatures.

In an interview with the Japan Times, seismologist Kiyoshi Wadatsumi notes that deep-sea fish “are more sensitive to the movements of active faults than those near the surface of the sea” – so it’s possible that Oarfish and their deep-dwelling kin respond to tremors by heading top-side, where they eventually strand in shallow water.

But there are alternative explanations as well. Some speculate that the relationship between Oarfish and earthquakes has a middleman. Changing currents during storms and earthquakes may temporarily shift the distribution of Oarfish prey like plankton, crustaceans and squid, which might drive the rarely seen fish to the shallows.

Others suspect the connection is less complicated: since these animals are sensitive to stress, it’s possible they are easily damaged during big swells.

Whatever the cause, every Oarfish sighting is an interesting one, and the Philippines has seen several giants in recent years. In 2016, a 12-foot (4m) behemoth washed up in the province of Albay. That fish had a flesh wound on its head, and no earthquake was detected following the stranding.

Quake-prone California has become something of a hotspot, too. In 2013, scientists found an 18-footer (5.4m) on the shores of Catalina Island, and several months after that, two living Oarfish were seen in very shallow waters off the coast of Baja. The following year, this 14-foot Oarfish swam past Oceanside in seemingly good condition:

Could any of these California sightings have something to do with the state’s various fault lines? It’s an interesting possibility, but we can’t say with certainty just yet. As with the strandings of whales and other marine creatures, it’s likely that various factors play a part.

Source: EarthTouch

More photos of the Oarfish (Regalecus sp.) that was recently found at Cagayan de Oro.

Source: Carol Nabale Cañete Facebook

More photos from various Facebook users of the Oarfish (Regalecus sp.) that was recently found in Cagayan de Oro.

Sources: Xander Zu Facebook, Honey Lucille Q. Cui-Sanmillan Facebook, Lou Ray Anilom Facebook, Joilyn Paguidian Dayaday Facebook, Enz Rolluqui Samson Facebook, Proud Bisaya Facebook, and Rica Amora Facebook

Another dead Oarfish washed ashore in Barangay Gusa, Cagayan de Oro City.
Photo: Jude Cyril Roque Viernes

Philippines: 6th dead Oarfish found in Cagayan de Oro

By Pia Noreen Bilar & Pamela Jay F. Orias, 19th February 2017;

A 20-foot long Oarfish (Regalecus sp.) was found in Barangay Gusa, Cagayan de Oro City, around 4 p.m., Saturday, February 18, three days after the fifth sea creature was seen off the coast of Agusan del Norte.

According to Marlo Tabac, Gusa barangay chairman, the elongated fish was still alive when found by residents but later died.

Netizen Clark Ian Richardson, meanwhile, posted a video of Oarfish, barely breathing, being surrounded by people.

Jude Cyril Roque Viernes also posted on Facebook photos of the dead fish.

Tabac said the fish had numerous cuts in its body when found .

Oarfishes are large, elongated fishes which dwell at a depth of 200 to 1000 meters (660 to 3300 feet). It is the longest bony fish alive, growing to up to 11 meters (36 feet) in length.

This is the sixth Oarfish found dead in the Philippines from January this year.

On February 15, a 10-foot long dead sea-serpent washed off the shore of Barangay Rojales, Agusan del Norte.

The first Oarfish, which was 10-foot long, was found on February 8, two days before the 6.7-magnitude earthquake that hit Surigao City.

It is said that in Japan, the Oarfish is known as a “messenger from the Sea God’s Palace.”

Photos of dead Oarfishes have sparked debates over the internet, as some said the fish have been known to forecast earthquakes.

Renato Solidum Jr., director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology told SunStar Philippines that the probability of another strong earthquake is low but the agency is not disregarding it.

Source: Sun.Star

An Oarfish washed ashore in Barangay Gusa, Cagayan de Oro Saturday afternoon.
Photo: Jude Cyril Roque Viernes

Philippines: Another Oarfish washed ashore in Cagayan de Oro
By Greanne Mendoza, 19th February 2017;

An Oarfish was washed ashore in Barangay Gusa, Cagayan de Oro Saturday afternoon.

According to Jude Cyril Roque Viernes, who posted the photos on Facebook, the fish, about 15 feet long, was found alive but later died.

Viernes also wrote that residents are afraid that the discovery forebodes an earthquake striking the city.

Some experts believe that deep-sea fish are capable of sensing tremors on the Earth’s crust.

According to Kiyoshi Wadatsumi, in a statement published by Japan Times, such aquatic creatures are more sensitive to the movements of faults.

Days before the magnitude-6.7 quake in Surigao City, an Oarfish was also caught off the shore of Agusan del Norte.

Another Oarfish, meanwhile, was seen along the coast of Barangay Rojales in Carmen, Agusan del Norte.

Source: ABS-CBN News

Photos: Jude Cyril Roque Viernes Facebook

Philippines: Another Oarfish found on Cagayan de Oro shore
19th February 2017;

An Oarfish (Regalecus sp.) was found along the shore of Barangay (village) Gusa in Cagayan de Oro on Saturday afternoon.

In a Facebook post, Jude Cyril Roque Viernes said the scale-less and silvery fish was about 15 meters long (Based on the photos, 15 feet is more likely; 15 metres would be a record holder). It was found alive but later died.

Oarfish was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest bony fish to be recorded in 2015. Mature Oarfish have an average length of 6 meters.

The fish got its name because its long pectoral fins resemble oars. It is also called the King of Herrings because of their resemblance to the smaller Herrings and fishes.

An Oarfish was also washed ashore in Agusan del Norte last week days before a 6.7-magnitude quake hit Surigao City.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer