By Ben Cost
Ever dance with a “harbinger of doom”?
Divers off Taiwan were mesmerized after encountering a giant oarfish — which is rumored to be a sign of impending earthquakes — that had mysterious holes in its body, as seen in a video making waves on Instagram.
In the enchanting footage, taken off the coast of Ruifang, divers can be seen encircling the shimmery silver critter as it hovers near the surface.
At one point, one of the divers reaches out and touches the alleged doomsaying denizen of the deep.
Divers estimated that the “earthquake fish” measured around 6-and-a-half feet long, which, while big, doesn’t compare to their max size of 56-feet long — the longest of any bony fish.
Unfortunately, the oarfish’s journey into the shallows, while cool to see, perhaps did not bode well for the beast.
“It must have been dying, so it swam into shallower waters,” diving instructor Wang Cheng-Ru told Jam Press of the serpentine sea beast, which was the first one he encountered in all his years of scuba diving.
The critter also had mysterious craters across its body, which experts believe to be the work of a cookiecutter shark. This fun-sized predator, known for coring chunks out of large fish, cetaceans and even nuclear submarines — although the latter is likely a case of mistaken identity.
The oarfish’s surface excursion is also perhaps a bad omen for us, given that some locals believe these denizens — which reside at depths of between 656 and 3,200 feet below the ocean’s surface — are a sign that an earthquake’s on the horizon.
This seismic superstition is based on Japanese mythology, which states that the slender plankton-eater will intentionally rise to the surface and beach themselves ahead of an impending tremor.
These fears ramped up during the 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami, as dozens of these alleged sea-going seismometers had washed ashore in the two years preceding the catastrophe.
However, experts claim that this earthquake-anticipation theory has no basis in fact.
“There is no scientific evidence of a connection, so I don’t think people need to worry,” declared Hiroyuki Motomura, a professor of ichthyology at Kagoshima University. “I believe these fish tend to rise to the surface when their physical condition is poor, rising on water currents, which is why they are so often dead when they are found.”