Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japan's Disaster: Pets, Animals and Omens

Image Source: Global Animal.

Among reports on the earthquake, tsunami, nuclear plants and radiation, devastation of coastal towns, tales of survivors and mass death, news is surfacing about Japan's lost pets that have survived the disaster.  As if on time delay, the world's concern for Japan deepened as pictures of stranded animals made the rounds on the Web today.  Nippon SPCA is here. Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support (a  coalition of three groups — HEART-TokushimaAnimal Garden Niigata, and Japan Cat Network) is here.  In addition, there are some reports circulating about animals' sensitivity to these terrible events - with some pointing to the superstition that animals respond to coming earthquakes before we anticipate them (as with my post here).  In both cases, our perceptions of animals mirror our anxiety and emotions surrounding this intensifying crisis.

Image Source: AP via Global Animal.

Video Source: Youtube.

Updates on the dogs depicted in the above video are here.

Image Source: AFP via Global Animal.

Caption for the above photograph: A man carries his dog in the city of Ofunato on March 15, 2011. Rescue teams from the US, Britain and China began assisting in the search for survivors following the devasting earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Image Source: Dogtime Blog.
Tsunami Rescue Cats. Image Source: Animal Planet.
Man reunited with his dog. Image Source: Friend Burst.
Image Source: Tumblr.
Image Source: Peoplepets.
Image Source: Red Star Cafe.
Image Source: Red Star Cafe.

Frogs moving en masse (5 May 2008) before the 7.8 Chinese earthquake of 12 May 2008, considered an omen. Image Source: Weird Asia News via Bush Warriors.

Caption for the above photograph, which is again being circulated in the wake of the Sendai earthquake: There has long been speculation that animals exhibit some sort of “sixth sense” that enables them to predict when earthquakes or tsunamis may happen.  However, what is a more likely the case is that their sensitivity to minute changes in their environment—things the human body doesn’t seem to be able to detect—sends signals to their brain that something is wrong.  Scientists aren’t sure exactly how it all happens, but much anecdotal evidence shows wild animals, in particular, seem to have a mechanism that tells them when they need to get the heck out of dodge.

Some sites are now looking at animal behaviour prior to the 11 March Sendai earthquake and tsunami.  On 4 March 2010, the Telegraph reported on oarfish surfacing on Japan's beaches (see a report here).  These fish normally swim at depths around 1000 metres.  Their arrival in the shallows has long been believed to be a sign of a coming earthquake, presumably because they respond to deep tremors before they become earthquakes.  They are traditionally known as the 'Messengers from the Sea God's Palace' in Japanese culture and in Western culture as a 'sea serpent.'

Rare live baby Oarfish. Image Source: Reef Central.

From the Telegraph 4 March 2010 report:

Japan is bracing itself after dozens of rare giant oarfish - traditionally the harbinger of a powerful earthquake - have been washed ashore or caught in fishermen's nets. The appearance of the fish follows Saturday's destructive 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile and the January 12 tremors in Haiti, which claimed an estimated 200,000 lives. A quake with a magnitude of 6.4 has also struck southern Taiwan. This rash of tectonic movements around the Pacific "Rim of Fire" is heightening concern that Japan - the most earthquake-prone country in the world - is next in line for a major earthquake. ... The giant oarfish can grow up to five metres in length and is usually to be found at depths of 1,000 metres and very rarely above 200 metres from the surface. Long and slender with a dorsal fin the length of its body, the oarfish resembles a snake.
In recent weeks, 10 specimens have been found either washed ashore or in fishing nets off Ishikawa Prefecture, half-a-dozen have been caught in nets off Toyama Prefecture and others have been reported in Kyoto, Shimane and Nagasaki prefectures, all on the northern coast.

According to traditional Japanese lore, the fish rise to the surface and beach themselves to warn of an impending earthquake - and there are scientific theories that bottom-dwelling fish may very well be susceptible to movements in seismic fault lines and act in uncharacteristic ways in advance of an earthquake - but experts here are placing more faith in their constant high-tech monitoring of the tectonic plates beneath the surface.

"In ancient times Japanese people believed that fish warned of coming earthquakes, particularly catfish," Hiroshi Tajihi, deputy director of the Kobe Earthquake Centre, told the Daily Telegraph. "But these are just old superstitions and there is no scientific relationship between these sightings and an earthquake," he said.

Rare video of a beached oarfish in California (2008?). Video Credit: Dr. L. Schwartz. Video Source: Youtube.

A dead oarfish washed up on Malibu beach in California in early December 2010.

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