Monday, May 29, 2006

Learning from the animals

Compared to the large death toll for humans, a relatively small number of animals died in tsunami. This provides further support for the growing belief that animals have some inherent instinct which allows them to sense natural disasters before they take place and to react accordingly (usually by fleeing the area).

As one example, there were such large quantities of fish caught by Sri Lankan fishermen immediately before the tsunami that fish prices dropped drastically. During this period some people even expressed a loss of appetite for the newly abundant seafood. As another example, huge numbers of snakes washed away into the Batticaloa lagoon and got caught in the nets of lagoon fishermen just prior the tsunami. Many other animals mysteriously retreated inland from the coastal areas before disaster struck.

Unfortunately, it was not until after the tsunami had struck that people began to understand what these signs predicted. Thankfully, there are various researchers working on ways we can use these types of animal behaviours to help predict natural disasters earlier, in hopes of preventing the enormous loss of life that can happen when people are caught unawares by such enormous forces of nature.