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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Luczon: Monsters underneath


DAYS prior to the earthquake that felt over Mindanao and devastated Surigao City and nearby towns the most, a dead (giant) oarfish was found ashore in the coastlines in Butuan City.

The oarfish, a deep-sea creature that has a long body that would reach from 10 to 18 meters, luckily is not on the list of endangered species but seldom seen on the surface. It usually lives at 1,000 feet below the sea.

Because it's rare, the only time people see these creatures is when they are dead, and often than not, their appearance is embedded with superstitions.

In Japan, it is believed that when a dead oarfish surfaces, it may mean devastations are abound like the result of strong earthquakes. They believed that the oarfish is a message from a diety below, warning them of a bad omen.

Although there may be no concrete scientific explanations to this, but some people would attest that often than not, when a dead oarfish was found ashore, it is usually succeeded by an earthquake or any calamity.

The "mystery" of the oarfish should spark an interest on what is going on the deep sea. Which until now, some marine scientists admit that there remains part of it that are hard to explain.

That is why a Russian fisherman gets a lot of followers over social media for posting photos of sea creatures so bizarre that some people thought that they are already alien and not of this earth.

You can go check his profile, Roman Fedorstov, with a handle @rfedorstov on Twitter.

But there may be concerns over the species underneath, studies conducted by marine scientists found out that in some deep-sea creatures, it's found to have contaminated with toxic chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

The study was conducted by a team of scientists at the University of Newcastle led by Dr. Alan Jamieson. These said chemicals were banned in the United States in 1979, which was also reinforced to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, a United Nations Treaty that was signed in 2001.

With some creatures having contaminated with toxic chemicals, this may affect the food chain, that later on affects human consumption with seafood.

We are already aware of the situation of our climate, let alone how badly polluted our oceans have become. In the near future, we may see dead oarfish surfacing our coastlines, and maybe they foretell an omen after all? That we are becoming a dying world.

Our Philippine laws, let alone our social consciousness towards marine protection, are not that mature yet. Filipinos still have the tendency to romanticize on politics rather than see a long-term solution to social ills that requires policies backed by scientific significance.

We might face again a very familiar scenario, that we are dealing with problems that we could have solved as early as now or before. But we were passive, we had other priorities, and yet we would be surprised to something we did all along?

(Nefluczon@gmail.com)

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