Did Animals Sense Tsunami Was Coming?

By Maryann Mott
for National Geographic News
January 4, 2005

Before giant waves slammed into Sri Lanka and India coastlines ten days ago, wild and domestic animals seemed to know what was about to happen and fled to safety.

According to eyewitness accounts, the following events happened:

• Elephants screamed and ran for higher ground.

• Dogs refused to go outdoors.

• Flamingos abandoned their low-lying breeding areas.

• Zoo animals rushed into their shelters and could not be enticed to come back out.

The belief that wild and domestic animals possess a sixth sense—and know in advance when the earth is going to shake—has been around for centuries.

Wildlife experts believe animals' more acute hearing and other senses might enable them to hear or feel the Earth's vibration, tipping them off to approaching disaster long before humans realize what's going on.

The massive tsunami was triggered by a magnitude 9 temblor off the coast of northern Sumatra island on December 26. The giant waves rolled through the Indian Ocean, killing more than 150,000 people in a dozen countries.

Relatively few animals have been reported dead, however, reviving speculation that animals somehow sense impending disaster.

Ravi Corea, president of the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society, which is based in Nutley, New Jersey, was in Sri Lanka when the massive waves struck.

Afterward, he traveled to the Patanangala beach inside Yala National Park, where some 60 visitors were washed away.

Continued on Next Page >>


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