Earthquake Fish

Throw it Back! (

Here at the Red Cross we’ve always been interested in Busting Myths but today, I’m just interested in some excellent, highly cultural myths to sink my teeth into.

While scanning the Field Guide to Tokyo’s Top 10 Mythical Beasts, I ran into the “Cat Fish God” or Namazu, once thought to be the cause of earthquakes in Japan.  The thought was that these fish were thrashing deep beneath the surface of the earth.  And then my thought was: Show and Tell, 4th grade!

I remembered that I own a netsuke of an “earthquake fish” when I was a little kid and so I started Googling “earthquake fish.” And guess what? MORE earthquake fish!

In Taiwan, another earthquake fish title was given to the species called Trachipterus ishikawae, or, “ribbon fish.”  These achieved this rank as they appeared following major earthquake
events [Hengchun (2006) and Taidon (2007)].  Biologically, it turns out that this may be because they are highly sensitive to disturbances on the ocean floor which is frankly where I believe you should keep ribbon fish because they are ugly.

One thought on “Earthquake Fish

  • There actually is a great bit of science out there on how animals react to earthquakes, as earthquakes are difficult to predict yet animals can have a 6th sense to this type of thing. As it turns out though, earthquakes vibrations take place in a variety of ways that travel at different speeds and affect different senses. Some animals can detect the quicker ways, giving us a short window of prediction if we heed their warning. These fish likely get rather freaked out by many of the vibrations that disturbs their bottom feeding habitats, bringing them closer to the surface.

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