Rare oarfish, ancient omens of natural disaster, captured by Japanese fishermen

Rare oarfish, ancient omens of natural disaster, captured by Japanese fishermen
The mysterious fish are believed to be omens of natural disaster.

(CNN) - Japanese fishermen discovered two rare oarfish off the coast of Okinawa, Japan.

One fish ripped in half while being loaded onto the ship and was partially eaten by the fishermen, the Japan Times reported. The other died after arriving on land.

The two oarfish, about 3.6 meters (12 feet) and 4 meters (13 feet) long, were found off the island’s southwest Toya port on Jan. 28.

"The two oarfish were swimming vigorously in the nets," said Satomi Higa of the Yomitan's fisheries cooperative association. "They looked mysterious and beautiful."

Traditionally known as "Ryugu no tsukai" in Japanese, or the "Messenger from the Sea God's Palace," legend has it that they beach themselves on shores ahead of underwater earthquakes.

The myth gained some traction after the 2011 Fukushima earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which killed more than 20,000 people. At least a dozen oarfish had washed up onto Japan’s coastline in the year prior to the disaster, according to Kyodo News.

But scientists dispute such claims.

Uozu Aquarium keeper Kazusa Saiba told CNN last month that global warming or subtle changes in the Earth's crust could "cause the current to stir and push creatures at the bottom to the surface."

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