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Tsunami adds to belief in animals' "sixth sense"
Reuters ^ | 12/30/04 | Ed Stoddard

Posted on 12/30/2004 3:15:26 AM PST by kattracks

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Wild animals seem to have escaped the Indian Ocean tsunami, adding weight to notions they possess a "sixth sense" for disasters, experts said on Thursday.

Sri Lankan wildlife officials have said the giant waves that killed over 24,000 people along the Indian Ocean island's coast seemingly missed wild beasts, with no dead animals found.

"No elephants are dead, not even a dead hare or rabbit. I think animals can sense disaster. They have a sixth sense. They know when things are happening," H.D. Ratnayake, deputy director of Sri Lanka's Wildlife Department, said on Wednesday.

The waves washed floodwaters up to 3 km (2 miles) inland at Yala National Park in the ravaged southeast, Sri Lanka's biggest wildlife reserve and home to hundreds of wild elephants and several leopards. "There has been a lot of anecdotal evidence about dogs barking or birds migrating before volcanic eruptions or earthquakes. But it has not been proven," said Matthew van Lierop, an animal behaviour specialist at Johannesburg Zoo.

"There have been no specific studies because you can't really test it in a lab or field setting," he told Reuters.

Other authorities concurred with this assessment.

"Wildlife seem to be able to pick up certain phenomenon, especially birds ... there are many reports of birds detecting impending disasters," said Clive Walker, who has written several books on African wildlife.

Animals certainly rely on the known senses such as smell or hearing to avoid danger such as predators.

The notion of an animal "sixth sense" -- or some other mythical power -- is an enduring one which the evidence on Sri Lanka's battered coast is likely to add to.

The Romans saw owls as omens of impending disaster and many ancient cultures viewed elephants as sacred animals endowed with special powers or attributes.

The tsunami was triggered by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean on Sunday. It killed tens of thousands of people in Asia and East Africa.



TOPICS: Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: sumatraquake; wildlife
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1 posted on 12/30/2004 3:15:26 AM PST by kattracks
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To: kattracks

A more plausible explanation than this bogus magical animal sixth sense nonsense: All the beachfront in these overpopulated hellholes is hogged by humans for fishing, tourism, etc. The animals are inland in the mountains and forests.


2 posted on 12/30/2004 3:22:51 AM PST by FormerACLUmember (Free Republic is 21st Century Samizdat)
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To: FormerACLUmember

That, and many animals are liable to flee at the slightest instigation..


3 posted on 12/30/2004 3:25:57 AM PST by AntiGuv ()
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To: kattracks

Actually animals have sharper senses than humans. They can detect weather changes. For example some birds fly south before winter and make the same stops each year. Dogs sniff out people. They DO know when storms are approaching as well.


4 posted on 12/30/2004 3:26:34 AM PST by nmh (Intelligent people recognize Intelligent Design (God).)
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To: FormerACLUmember

There is an old saying: Those who know the sea, do not live by the sea. Animals follow this rule, generally, with the exception of shore birds.


5 posted on 12/30/2004 3:29:18 AM PST by FormerACLUmember (Free Republic is 21st Century Samizdat)
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: kattracks

I imagine the animals "felt the earthquake" and fled inland to seek cover.

There were several references to the "earth trembling" from the after effects of this strong earthquake, so an animal would be much more atune to that.

Plus their sense of hearing is so much keener. Maybe they heard the wave coming...my dogs know a thunderstorm is approaching long before I do.


7 posted on 12/30/2004 3:34:25 AM PST by dawn53
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To: kattracks
I suspect animals can detect low level, subsonic rumblings that occur hours before plates shift. This seems to make sense. Animals do have incredible sensory abilities.

Snakes detecting incredible minute changes in temperature.

Bloodhounds being able to smell a few (let's not get technical) molecules of scent.

Eagles/hawks being able to "see" a field mouse from a mile or two away.

Moths/bugs detecting incredibly small amounts of various substances.

8 posted on 12/30/2004 3:39:22 AM PST by AmericaUnited
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To: dawn53

Don't you imagine the approaching tsunami might create "vibrations"? Like on the tracks when a train is still very distant. Perhaps animals can sense those.


9 posted on 12/30/2004 3:40:26 AM PST by Timeout
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To: AmericaUnited

Add dogs' ability to hear high pitched sounds which we can't detect. Vibrations can emit such high tones (think tuning fork).


10 posted on 12/30/2004 3:42:19 AM PST by Timeout
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To: FormerACLUmember
A more plausible explanation than this bogus magical animal sixth sense nonsense

Rubbish. Animals have been endowed by their creator with mechanisms to survive that you didn't get. No need to be snippy about it.

11 posted on 12/30/2004 3:42:39 AM PST by Glenn (The two keys to character: 1) Learn how to keep a secret. 2) ...)
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To: Glenn

He wasn't getting snippy, just saying that it is a natural sense and not some voodoo "magical" powers.


12 posted on 12/30/2004 3:44:53 AM PST by AmericaUnited
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To: nmh
Birds also have a biological micro-barometer, that they normally use to judge their altitude, and it's also a very good weather predictor. The barometric change cycle caused by an approaching storm is easily picked up by them.

You may have noticed that when the pressure drops ahead of a storm, swallows, purple martins, etc. fly at lower altitudes.

14 posted on 12/30/2004 3:52:26 AM PST by capt. norm (Rap is to music what the Etch-A-Sketch is to art.)
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To: AmericaUnited
just saying that it is a natural sense and not some voodoo "magical" powers.

He said no such thing. He accused humans of crowding the animals out to a secure distance.

15 posted on 12/30/2004 3:56:36 AM PST by Glenn (The two keys to character: 1) Learn how to keep a secret. 2) ...)
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To: kattracks
Our family used to have a German Shepard and it was deathly afraid of thunderstorms. We knew a thunderstorm was on the way when that dog would shake, shiver and tremble. It would tremble so much, the poor thing looked like it had legs of jelly.

Horses and cattle are keenly aware of climatic and changes in nature as well, whether its a thunderstorm, tornado, or even a winter blizzard.

16 posted on 12/30/2004 3:57:36 AM PST by BigSkyFreeper
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To: Timeout
Add dogs' ability to hear high pitched sounds which we can't detect. Vibrations can emit such high tones (think tuning fork).

Cats can hear at an even higher pitch than dogs. Elephants, on the other hand, can hear at a lower range than humans. Their superior hearing, sight and, perhaps, an ability to sense changes in the atmosphere warned animals that something was terribly wrong and to flee if they could.

My late father had a leg that could tell if rain was coming -- the result of a wound from WWII.

17 posted on 12/30/2004 4:00:02 AM PST by Siamese Princess
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To: kattracks
There was an article posted today about how the Euro-tourists on vacation in parts of the world hit by the tsunami were back to drinking and partying despite the dead bodies still lingering in their vacation spots.

Sometimes (most times) people are just to self-absorbed and shallow to be tuned into any signs that might help them understand and interpret the natural world.
18 posted on 12/30/2004 4:01:56 AM PST by spodefly (Do not remove this tagline under penalty of law.)
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To: capt. norm

Thanks for the added information.

Interesting, isn't it?

I have a soft spot for the eagle. Instead of getting as far away from a storm as possible or hiding they stay and soar ABOVE the storm.

Need I add that I love animals. They fascinate me.


19 posted on 12/30/2004 4:04:45 AM PST by nmh (Intelligent people recognize Intelligent Design (God).)
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To: kattracks
Actually this story seems to leave out which park this references. I looked this story up yesterday after it was posted by Reuters.

The park in question is Yala National Park which was situated on the Southern tip of Sri Lanka and abuts the ocean. It is one of the areas hit by the 32ft. high waves and flood waters rushing in 2 miles or so. The safari lodge located there was completely wiped out and lives lost. Pictures from the lodge area were showing the only thing left was the foundation and almost no debris, it was all swept out into the ocean. The park is/was famous for the elephants and has the most leopards of any park.
20 posted on 12/30/2004 4:21:09 AM PST by EBH (A very proud Aunt of a US Marine in Fallujah)
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