Ryugu no tsukai (Oarfish), the Messenger from the Sea Dragon god’s palace

Oarfish that washed ashore on a Bermuda beach in 1860: The fish was 16 ft (4.9 m) long and was originally described as a sea serpent. It was even suggested by the The Inverness Courier in 1933 that sightings of the Loch Ness Monster were actually oarfish. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Depiction of a 4.9m Oarfish that washed ashore on a Bermuda beach in 1860: The fish was originally described as a sea serpent. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Ryugu no tsukai

“The oarfish is known in Japan as ryugu no tsukai or “messenger from the sea god’s palace,” according to the Japan Times. Dozens of the deep-sea denizens were discovered by Japanese fishermen around the time a powerful 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile in March 2010.

Kiyoshi Wadatsumi, a specialist in ecological seismology, told the Japan Times, “Deep-sea fish living near the sea bottom are more sensitive to the movements of active faults than those near the surface of the sea.”

“Shortly before the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, about 20 oarfish stranded themselves on beaches in the area, Mark Benfield, a researcher at Louisiana State University, told LiveScience in an earlier interview.” Read more “Can oarfish predict earthquakes?”
“According to Japanese mythology, the oarfish is a messenger from the dragon god of the sea. In concordance with the messenger theme, in the two years preceding the Tohoku earthquake in March 2011, an unusual number of oarfish stranded themselves on the coastal beaches of Japan. The Japan Times on March 6, 2010, reported that in folklore the fish comes to the beach as an omen of an earthquake. With that in mind, is “The Big One” about to hit southern California, splitting it off from the rest of the continent and tipping into the sea?

Of course, the Internet is abuzz with other possible reasons. The sea serpents’ demise coincides with reports of Fukushima radioactivity working its way across the ocean. Then there are reports that offshore oil wells in southern California have been surreptitiously engaged in fracking the sea bottom to extract more petroleum. Or how about powerful sonar blasts the U.S. Navy is using in the waters off southern California? Climate change, old age, disease? A broken ocean? Could the pair have had a lovers’ quarrel that went south?

The oarfish is the largest living bony fish, reaching up to 35 feet in length. Certainly the beast sighted on the surface by sailors gave rise to the lore of sea serpents. It has silvery blue skin and a red dorsal fin that runs the length of its body. There are several long fins extending from the top of its head like antennae, and they may have lures at the end. It positions itself vertically in the water with the head pointed upwards and swims up and down like an elevator from more than 1,000 feet deep to near surface by means of undulations of the dorsal fin.” – Read the rest at “Fishy Mystery: Are Beached Oarfish Trying to Tell Us Something?”  – The Daily Beast

3 thoughts on “Ryugu no tsukai (Oarfish), the Messenger from the Sea Dragon god’s palace

  1. Tyson R. Roberts says:

    I am looking for Japanese prints of ryugu-no-tsukai to reproduce in an article on oarfish as harbingers of earthquakes.

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