Monster Oarfish Beachings Raise Earthquake Questions

A series of serpent-like sea creatures have recently been found washed up on California beaches, leading some scientists to speculate that an ancient myth about the fish portending earthquakes could be true.

In recent weeks several oarfish, rarely seen giants of the deep that can grow up to 50-feet long, have been found along the southern California coast.

A centuries-old Japanese myth holds that oarfish beach themselves prior to an earthquake. One 2010 report found that some Japanese feared an earthquake in that country following oarfish sightings prior to destructive tremors in Chile and Haiti.

The fish, believed to be the ocean's largest scaled fish, also washed up in the months before the 2011 earthquake and tsunami near Sendai, Japan.

Some scientists have speculated that the ancient myth could be rooted in reality, speculating that the deep-dwelling fish might be attuned to seismic changes.

But most marine biologists believe there still is not enough evidence to conclude that oarfish are harbingers of earthquakes. The beachings, they say, may be coincidental.

"I don't discredit or disrespect the Japanese theory at all," Pat Abbott, a seismologist at San Diego State University told reporters. "The science and study just isn't there. There's a big difference between suggesting something like that and proving it. What did an animal sense that maybe we didn't that told them about a coming event?"