A four-metre-long (13.12ft) oarfish was found on Monday tangled in a fishnet off the port of Imizu is the latest in the spate of unexplained deaths. The creatures, which can grow up to as long as much as 11 metres, are believed to be an indicator of doom in Japanese mythology. The fish apparently come to the surface and beach themselves when an earthquake is nearing. Scientific theories support the lore, as bottom-dwelling fish are susceptible to movements in seismic fault lines and act uncharacteristically before an earthquake.
Social media users in Japan have claimed the death of the fish foretell a disaster is near.
One Twitter user wrote: â€śThis is no doubt evidence of a precursor to an earthquake.
â€śAnd if it is in the Nankai Trough, an area susceptible to tectonic plate movements, it might be a huge quake.â€ť
Another asked: â€śIs something happening deep in the sea?â€ť
While a third questioned: â€śWhat is going on under Toyama Bay?â€ť
But Professor Shigeo Aramaki, a seismologist at the University of Tokyo, dismissed the fears of social media users as â€śnothingâ€ť.
He said: â€śIâ€™m not a specialist in fish, but there is no academic literature that has proven a scientific link to the behaviour of animals and seismic activity.
â€śI see absolutely no reason for concern and I have seen no updated reports of increased seismic activity in this country in recent weeks.â€ť
At least a dozen oarfish were washed up dead in Japan in 2010, just months before the March 2011 earthquake.
The quake had a magnitude of nine and was one of the biggest recorded in a century.
A devastating tsunami followed and 19,000 people were killed after the country was ravaged by the disasters.
Uozu Aquarium keeper Kazusa Saiba said: â€śThere is no scientific evidence at all for the theory that oarfish appear around big quakes.
â€śBut we cannot 100 per cent deny the possibility.
â€śIt could be that global warming might have an impact on the appearance of oarfish or a reason weâ€™re just not aware of.â€ť
Oarfish, characterised by long silver bodies and red fins, are known in Japan as ryugu no tsukai, or messenger from the sea god’s palace in English.
The fish live at depths of 0.62 miles and come to the surface when an earthquake or tsunami is looming.
Hiroyuki Motomura, a professor of ichthyology at Kagoshima University, said: â€śI have around 20 specimens of this fish in my collection so itâ€™s not a very rare species, but I believe these fish tend to rise to the surface when their physical condition is poor, rising on water currents, which is why they are so often dead when they are found.
â€śThe link to reports of seismic activity goes back many, many years, but there is no scientific evidence of a connection so I donâ€™t think people need to worry.â€ť