An alarming discovery of two rare oarfish is increasingly sending Japan into a panic. According to Japanese mythology, the giant oarfish - traditionally known as Ryūgū-No-Tsukai, or 'messenger from the sea god's palace' - hold prophetic significance of 'doomsday' natural disasters.
Two fishermen were taken back when they caught two rare deep-sea oarfish, known to be an 'omen' of natural disasters. For centuries, the species have been associated with severe natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis.
The ghastly specimen were caught still alive in the fishermen's nets on the coast of Okinawa, a Japanese island: "The two oarfish were swimming vigorously in the nets. They looked mysterious and beautiful," told Satomi Higa of the Yomitan's fisheries cooperative association. The creatures were reported to be as much as 3.6 meters (12 feet) and 4 meters (13 feet) in length.
According to the Japanese myth, these rare sea creatures wash up ashore whenever underwater earthquakes are brewing ahead. Despite the legend making waves in folklore for centuries, the myth had caught attention of many following the Fukushima earthquake that struck Japan in 2011 and took 20,000 lives in the process.
It had been reported that dozens of giant oarfish had beached themselves ashore prior to the catastrophic earthquake, with many now believing that there is more to the myth that meets the eye.
Science vs myth
Although popular amongst believers, scientists argue that the legend remains an unlikely prediction of potential natural disasters. According to aquarium keeper Kazusa Saiba, global warming has a profound effect of the changes in the earth's crust, "causing the current to stir and push creatures at the bottom to the surface."
There is no scientific evidence at all for the theory that oarfish appear around big quakes. But we cannot 100% deny the possibility," Mr Saiba told CNN. Whilst there isn't sufficient evidence to prove nor disprove the ancient myth, Japan remains fearful that another series of earthquakes is in-store.