Animal earthquake prediction

In Japanese mythology, the giant catfish (Namazu) can cause earthquake by shaking it’s tail.

This giant catfish lives under the Island of Japan and is guarded by the God Kashima. The God put a stone on top of the head of the catfish. However even the God can become tired and it would be the time when the catfish tries to escape and cause an earthquake.


 (Image: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

But honestly, do you really think this fish here can cause such a catastrophe?

Blue catfish

 (Image: By forgotton0001 [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Why did people think catfish can cause earthquake?

Some people observed that catfish have unusual behaviour before an earthquake happens. This is probably why ancient people associated earthquakes with giant catfish in the first place.

In fact, fish can sense electric fields which human didn’t know about until a few hundred years ago. The ability to perceive electric fields might be the reason why fish can sense the changes in the environment and eventually predict an earthquake.

One example is the Tangshan earthquake in China, July 28, 1976. It was reported that some weird animal behaviours were found prior the earthquake. Dogs were behaving strangely (unusual barking) and a migration of frogs was also found.  These all suggest that animals can somehow predict earthquakes.

However, in the scientists’ point of view, if we can’t prove something, we can’t say that it is true. And the fact is that our technology and knowledge are still limited and it is impossible to prove whether animals can predict earthquake or not (because the weird behaviour might be caused by other environmental factors).

Saying that, I do still believe that animals know much more than what we humans do (sometimes I think my dogs know something that I don’t when they start barking without any reasons) and it won’t surprise me if some animals can predict earthquakes.  After all, our knowledge about animals is still very limited and there is a lot waiting to be explored.

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