Anomalous Fish Behavior Points to Earthquake Danger on US Pacific Coast
March 24, 2011 • 11:46AM

As documented by a recent LPAC video on the Rim of Fire, anomalous behavior of animals, including fish, often occurs before the outbreak of major earthquakes. Geologist Berkland cited a number of recent unusual fish sightings which contributed to his forecast of a heightened possibility of a major earthquake occurring between March 19 and March 27 on the US Pacific coast. The specific incidents are as follows:

* On Tuesday March 8, more than one million sardines turned up dead in the Marina in Redondo Beach, south of Los Angeles. The sardines entered King Harbor in such numbers that they used up the oxygen in the water and died en masse. More than 175 tons of sardines died in the harbor. Schools of live fish and a small influx of more dead fish also appeared in King Harbor Friday, March 18.

* On Friday March 11, masses of sardines, anchovies, stripped bass and mackerel surged close to shore of Acapulco, Mexico on the Pacific west coast, packed so tightly near the surface they looked like an oil slick from above.

* On Wednesday March 9, a pod of 14-15 sperm whales was sighted on the surface of the ocean about halfway between Long Beach and Catalina Island, according to a marine biologist. "They are an endangered species, and the fact that we can see them relatively close to a large urban area is remarkable," said David Bader, a marine biologist at the Aquarium of the Pacific. "It's like seeing a herd of elephants, right off the coast of Long Beach." The whales in the pod on Wednesday were about 35 feet long, and probably were females and immature males, Bader said. "Usually they just surface for a minute and then go back underwater for as long as an hour, so you normally only get a glimpse of them," Bader said. "And these whales were just lollygagging around, for lack of a better way to put it." "While sperm whales have been known to exist off the California coast, any sighting of this species is rare, and sightings of this size are virtually unheard of in these waters," Bader said.

Sperm whales are occasionally spotted off Southern California, but usually as individuals or in very small groups. Large pods such as the one encountered Wednesday are "extremely rare," said Alisa Schulman-Janiger, an American Cetacean Society researcher. Schulman-Janiger, who runs the Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, said it has been at least 30 years since a large pod was spotted by volunteers atop the South Bay promontory.

* A pod of sperm whales was also sighted off the coast of San Diego in the same time period.

* On Tuesday March 14 a humpback whale was seen by passengers aboard the Condor Express out of Santa Barbara, marking that vessel's first humpback whale sighting of the season. The Condor Express crew logged sightings of six more humpback whales on Wednesday (March 15). Humpback whales, which migrate into Southern California waters from the south, typically don't start showing until late April or early May.