Wednesday, December 6, 2023

3-meter oarfish appears on Baja California Sur beach

An oarfish, a deepwater eel-like fish not generally seen in Mexican waters, has made another surprise appearance, turning up Friday in Baja California’s Pichilingue Bay in La Paz.

The discovery of the fish, believed in Japan to be omens of earthquakes, comes barely a month after another oarfish was caught June 11 in Cozumel.

David de Zabedrosky of the World Climactic Network revealed the Baja California sighting on his Twitter account Sunday, showing pictures of the large eel-like fish and estimating its length at about three meters.

The deepwater fish are not frequently seen in Mexico’s Pacific Ocean, although it happens occasionally. Last summer, also in La Paz, an oarfish washed up on El Coromuel Beach. Around the same time, another washed up on a beach in Los Cabos. In 2013, dead specimens washed up on California beaches in Oceanside and Catalina Island.

Although the plankton-consuming fish are believed to live at depths of 200 to 1,000 meters, they are sometimes sighted at the surface — and are believed to be the source of many legendary accounts of sea serpents and other sea monsters. In Japan, many believe they signal oncoming earthquakes and tsunamis.

In 2011, this belief was reinforced when supposed multiple sightings of oarfish on Japanese coasts occurred soon before the 6.6-magnitude earthquake in Fukushima that led to a tsunami and an accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant. They can occasionally be pushed ashore by strong currents and get stranded in bays like Pichilingue and end up dead or alive on beaches.

Sources: El Financiero (sp), BCS Noticias (sp)

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