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Bad Omen? Multiple Oarfish Wash Onto Philippine Beaches (Photos)

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The Oarfish is a remarkably long, seldom-seen deep-sea creature that has found itself at the center of an unsettling theory: they are natural earthquake predictors.

Several of the massive plankton-feeders recently found their way into fishermen's nets and onto sandy Philippine beaches just before a devastating earthquake ravaged the southern island of Mindanao on Feb. 8.

The little-known bony fish has a habit of appearing close to these disasters, thus branding it a bad-sign of things to come.

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Surrounding this most recent earthquake, one 10-foot-long oarfish washed onto a beach on the island on Feb. 6, while another was hauled in by a fisherman. Five more oarfish were found on the northern coast of Mindanao in the days following.

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Due to their mysterious and elusive nature, the serpentine species has prompted speculation that they are able to detect, predict or signal an oncoming earthquake.

One Facebook user drew the connection quite clearly for UK tabloid The Sun: "There are several instances that people had sightings of oarfishes prior to an earthquake, including the earthquake and tsunami that happened in Japan, Chile, Haiti, and now in Surigao Ph."

Scientists believe oarfish sightings are caused by especially strong currents that drag the fish from their depths hundreds of feet below the ocean's surface, though studying these strange creatures remains a challenge.

The first recorded sighting of an oarfish was in 1772. The fish live in nearly every ocean, and their unusual appearances have led many to believe they are mythical creatures or examples of cryptozoological phenomena. In addition to their length, oarfish are unique in their lack of scales.

In addition to its earthquake predicting abilities, the oarfish sightings are significant due to several unexplained incidents of animals beaching themselves recently, including hundreds of whales in New Zealand. Mass strandings are incredibly rare.

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Whether the New Zealand incident and the oarfish of the Philippines are connected remains to be seen. But considering the unprecedented levels of radiation and pollutants recently found in even the deepest parts of our oceans, sleuths and theorists across the internet will have a lot to consider.

Sources: The Sun via New York Post, The Guardian, (2), Daily Mail / Photo credit: Elesa Rosé Jane Allocod and Catalina Island Marine Institute via Daily Mail

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