Monday, March 14, 2011

Animals are uneasy before an earthquake strikes

Dr Abe V Rotor

Paco fish at home

There was something very peculiar with our fish pets at home before a massive earthquake hit Japan and caused a deadly tsunami last March 11, 2011.

For three consecutive days our Paco and Hito (catfish) in our garden ponds refused to eat, and were uneasy as if looking for a way to get out of their confinement. All of a sudden I felt they were no longer tame. They were jittery and nervous. Were they telling me of something?

I thought it was the water getting foul with an over growth of green algae. But it was not. I changed their food with another brand. And feed them at any opportunity. Still they didn't respond. I felt sorry for them if they would inevitably end up on the grill. Which my children and I adamantly decided. Our hito, five of them, have been our pet for some three years now, while our paco, ten for them, make easily one kilo each.

Then a flash news came. Japan was hit by the worst earthquake in living memory with an intensity up to 9.0 - so strong it made the earth's rotation faster, and the Japan plate to move.

I remember when Chile was hit by an 8.0 earthquake (which increased the tilt of the earth), our hito which were a year old then, exhibited the same behavior as they did before the Japan earthquake.

Can animals - and other living things for that matter - predict the coming of an earthquake? I know there are organisms that warn us of a coming rain (hovering horde of dragonflies), or flood (earthworm abandoning their burrows and moving to higher ground). A colony of ants on the move with their young and eggs means siyam-siyam (nepnep Ilk) has arrived. This is characterized by nine days of continuous rain, followed by another nine with a respite of good weather in between. Even plants warn us of a coming drought, such as the kapok when it is heavily laden with pods.

This is the expertise of old folks, and scientists agree with them to a certain extent based on scientific evidences.

Animals are sensitive to the vibrations preceding an earthquake. They perceive the small numerous crackling of the earth before the final break (tectonic), which is the earthquake. As a means of self-preservation they try to escape from stables and pens, seek shelter, run to higher grounds, or simply escape to areas far from the source of the impending earthquake.

Snakes come out of their abode, reptiles move away from the water, horses neigh and kick around, elephants seem to defy the command of their masters (like in the case of the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka). We humans can only detect such minute movements on our inventions such as the Richter Scale.

More about Nature’s Biological Early Warning System

• When jellyfish come to the surface of the sea there is an earthquake or tsunami coming. It is when the epicenter of an earthquake occurs under the sea that tsunami may follow. Marine animals as well as land animals can detect minute tremors preceding an earthquake. Because of this they seek for safe areas usually moving upward shallower waters. (NOTE: Such vibrations are generally imperceptible to humans. They are monitored by his invention, the Seismograph, instead.)

• When cockroaches are flying about, there are plenty of fish to catch. This is not limited to cockroaches. Other insects do swarm at certain stages or seasons of the year. For example, termites swarm at the onset of the heavy rains (monsoon or habagat); honeybees swarm when the queen bee dies, or when a new queen is produced from an old hive. Gnats or gamu-gamu swarm when their population shoot up due to freedom from predators. Locusts coalesce and migrate if driven by drought that destroys their source of food. Fish are abundant when there are plenty of insects since insects constitute their main food.

• Sporadic and massive brush fire accompanies dry spell or predicts the coming of the El Niño phenomenon. Usually it is at the end of the rainy season that grasses like talahib (Saccharum officinarum) and cogon (Imperata cylindrica) reach the end of their life cycle. In the absence of subsequent rains, these ignite into brush fire, so bad in certain cases that even trees and whole forest burn. Worst scenarios are forest fires as what happen in Australia last 2006, and Indonesia in 2000, the latter sending smoke as far as the Philippines.

Let's heed the biological signals of animals, which contributed to their fitness to survive evolution - and become part of our living world. Indeed they are living sentinels of the dangers we face. ~

Living with Nature, AVR

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