Divers in Taiwan Film Rare Encounter With Giant 'Doomsday Fish' Believed to Be a Harbinger of Earthquakes

Divers in Taiwan recently caught an extremely rare sight of an oarfish off the coast of New Taipei's Ruifang District. Otherwise known as "earthquake fish" or "doomsday fish," oarfish sightings are believed in Japanese folklore to precede an earthquake or tsunami event.

Typically, oarfish live in extremely deep waters ranging from about 650 to 3,300 feet deep, which is what makes a sighting so uncommon. Although there's no factual basis, the superstition stems from the fact that the creatures can allegedly sense impending seismic activity, and will rise to the water's surface to beach themselves.

In this case, however, the fish was likely floating in warmer waters because it was injured.

Footage of the underwater beast, which was captured by diving instructor Wang Cheng-ru, shows that it had large holes in its body, which was likely the work of a cookiecutter shark. Cookiecutter sharks are a species of small shark known for "coring" cylindrical chunks out of large fish and cetaceans.

As you can see in the photos and video below, the oarfish measured around six-and-a-half feet long, which is actually on the smaller side for these fish. Acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest recorded fish in existence, an adult oarfish can grow up to 36 feet in length.

"It must have been dying, so it swam into shallower waters," Wang told Newsweek earlier this month, and that it was his first oarfish encounter in 15 years of diving. Typically, oarfish are only seen by humans when they wash up dead on the beach.

But again, experts stress that the sighting means no cause for alarm.

"There is no scientific evidence of a connection, so I don’t think people need to worry," Hiroyuki Motomura, a professor of ichthyology at Kagoshima University explained to the New York Post. “I believe these fish tend to rise to the surface when their physical condition is poor, rising on water currents, which is why they are so often dead when they are found."