Fears of another devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan have been heightened after multiple sightings of the rare and ominous oarfish.
Several of the deep-sea creatures have recently washed up or been caught in fishing nets - spreading panic and alarm.
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The large snake-like creatures, which can grow as much as 11-metres-long, are known as "Ryugu no tsukai", or "Messenger from the Sea God's Palace".
According to legend, they come to the surface and beach themselves on land ahead of underwater earthquakes.
At least 10 oarfish washed up in Japan in 2010, just months before the March 2011 earthquake that triggered a giant tsunami that killed almost 19,000 people and destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant.
The resurgence in oarfish sightings is causing the public to fear a new quake could be about to strike.
"This is no doubt evidence of a precursor to an earthquake," one person posted to Twitter.
But scientists say there's a more mundane explanation for the creatures' appearances.
"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," Professor Hiroyuki Motomura told the South China Morning Post.
"The link to reports of seismic activity goes back many, many years, but there is no scientific evidence of a connection so I don't think people need to worry."