Source: Nature: "Can Animals Predict Disaster?"
Major corporate support for the Nature collection was provided by Canon U.S.A. and SC Johnson. Additional support was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the nation’s public television stations.
Hours before the deadly Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 that killed more than a quarter-million people, elephants ran for higher ground, dogs refused to go outdoors, flamingos abandoned their breeding areas, and zoo animals rushed into their shelters. This mysterious behavior of animals, coupled with the report of no mass animal deaths resulting from perhaps one of the most destructive tsunamis in history, has renewed the common, yet controversial, theory that animals can sense imminent disaster. In this video segment from Nature, learn about the animals that have survived natural disasters.
An earthquake is caused by a sudden rupture or movement in the earth’s crust, usually due to the release of tectonic stresses which have accumulated over time. Seismic waves radiate from an earthquake’s epicenter as energy from the rupture is transferred and dissipated through the earth. When this rupture occurs underwater, water is also displaced, creating massively destructive waves called tsunamis. The animal survival rate of the tsunami of December 26, 2004 led some scientists to theorize about how animals’ greater sensitivity to seismic waves might have given them a lifesaving warning about the disaster which claimed over a quarter million human lives.
The Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 is one of the worst natural disasters in human history.
More then a quarter of a million people are killed.
As the world takes stock of the staggering human death toll, new and mysterious stories begin to emerge.
Amazing accounts of survival – in the animal kingdom.
According to rangers, flamingoes along India’s southern coast suddenly and inexplicably flee for safer forests hours before the tsunami strikes.
Sri Lankan dogs refuse their customary early morning walks.
Buffalo in a Thai village stampede up a hill... saving the lives of villagers who follow them, with just minutes to spare
Across the ravaged area, stories kept coming in... amid the human carnage, animals somehow surviving, baffling residents and scientists.
(Sinhalese with English translation)
“K” David, Wildlife Tracker:
All the elephants and wild boars and other animals were all running away from the sea. Not a single animal would stop.
Gehan de Silva Wijeterathe, Ecotourism Guide There were search teams in excess of 50 people there, combing the area for bodies and traces of any survivors. I think it was very clear that there were no dead animals.
Were all these stories a coincidence, or was there something behind them? For centuries, survivors of natural disasters have told similar tales, of both wild and domesticated animals who seemed to have premonitions of looming disaster – minutes, hours or even days ahead of time.
In the fourth century B.C., a historian reported a mass exodus of animals, including rats, worms and beetles from the Greek city of Helike some five days before it sank into the sea in a violent earthquake.
Witnesses of a ferocious earthquake that devastated Lisbon in the mid-18th century noted panicked birds in flight, and rats and mice leaving their holes in the hours before the quake.
More recent disasters have been no exception.
Wherever natural disasters strike, accounts of animal omens emerge.
The tsunami of 2004 has thrown a new, scientific spotlight onto these stories.
Why did seemingly so few animals perish in the disaster? Did they pick up on warnings we somehow missed? Researchers are divided.
Dr. Pruthu Fernando, Conservation Biologist:
“It makes a nice story if the animals run away. If they didn’t run away, it’s not news.”
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