March 1st, 2010 Raining fish nothing new for Outback. FISH raining from the sky is nothing new for one Territory community, a resident said yesterday. The Sunday Territorian yesterday reported how fish had been falling from the sky at Lajamanu, in the desert, 550km southwest of Katherine. But Baden Williams, from Hermannsburg in Central Australia, said he remembered fish falling on the sports oval when he was a child. “We had a big mob falling in Hermannsburg,” he said. “As I was growing up there as a small boy, we saw a lot of fish, just falling around on the plain as we walked. “It’s a normal thing, it’s nothing unusual for us.” Mr Williams, 45, said local children would go fishing on the oval in the desert town when fish had fallen. “I hear a lot of people talking about fish falling out of the sky – as I was getting older I saw it myself,” he said. “Lots of kids fishing in the oval. Some made spears and threw the spear. “Last time I seen it was in ’89. It was falling right in front of us, in the water, all the fish,” he said. “They thought I was crazy, but I wasn’t. “The ones that fall from the sky were 5, 10cm,” Mr Williams said. Yesterday’s story sparked readers around the Territory to report their experiences – and fears – of creatures falling from the sky. Les Dillon, 48, of Maningrida, said the
Sunday Territorian story confirmed one of his own. “In the early ’80s I was at the Alice Springs Tavern Hotel and when I walked out the door I saw all those little fish, fallen out of the sky,” he said. “Yes, I had a couple of beers, six, so none of my mates believed me. “I was really excited to see it had happened again, I rang heaps of people to let them know I had not been drunk back then, it had really happened. “I’ve cut the story out of the paper, too, and carry it with me in my wallet as proof,” Mr Dillon said. Joe Ashley, 55, from Jabiru, called to say he was worried “something really spooky” was going on in the Territory and more strange things could happen soon. “Usually fish are in the water, now they are falling out of the sky – what if anything bigger falls out of the sky next? “It could be crocodiles, that’d be really scary,” he said. – It’s raining fish … no really February 28th, 2010 WHILE the Top End and Central Australia have been battered by torrential rains, a Territory town has had fish falling from the sky. The freak phenomena happened not once, but twice, on Thursday and Friday afternoon about 6pm at Lajamanu, about 550km southwest of Katherine. NEWSBREAKER Christine Balmer, who took these photos of the fish on the ground and in a bucket, had to pinch herself when she was told “hundreds and hundreds” of small white fish had fallen
from the sky. “It rained fish in Lajamanu on Thursday and Friday night,” she said, “They fell from the sky everywhere. “Locals were picking them up off the footy oval and on the ground everywhere. “These fish were alive when they hit the ground.” Mrs Balmer, the aged care co-ordinator at the Lajamanu Aged Care Centre, said her family interstate thought she had lost the plot when she told them about the event. “I haven’t lost my marbles,” she said, reassuring herself. “Thank god it didn’t rain crocodiles.” Lajamanu sits on the edge of the Tanami Desert, hundreds of kilometres from Lake Argyle and Lake Elliott and even further from the coast. But it’s not the first time the remote community has been bombarded by fins from above. In 2004, locals reported fish falling from the sky, and in 1974, a similar incident captured international headlines. The small white fish are believed to be spangled perch, which are very common through much of northern Australia. Weather bureau senior forecaster Ashley Patterson said the geological conditions were perfect on Friday for a tornado in the Douglas Daly region. He said it would have been an ideal weather situation to allow the phenomena to occur – but no tornados have been reported to the authority. “It’s a very unusual event,” he said. “With an
updraft, (fish and water picked up) could get up high – up to 60,000 or 70,000 feet. “Or possibly from a tornado over a large water body – but we haven’t had any reports,” he said. news from ntnews.com.au – A history of amazing ‘rainfall’ There is a long history of strange objects raining from the sky, with these strange occurrences among the most notable: 1st Century: Pliny The Elder wrote about storms of frogs and fish, foreshadowing many modern incidents. 1794: French soldiers stationed in Lalain, near Lille, reported toads falling from the sky during heavy rain. 1857: Sugar crystals as big as quarter of an inch in diameter fell over the course of two days in Lake County, California. golf balls 1876: A woman in Kentucky reported meat flakes raining from the sky. Tests found the meat was venison. 1902: Dust whipped up in Illinois caused muddy rain to fall over many north-eastern U.S. states. 1940: A tornado in Russia brought a shower of coins from the 16th Century. 1969: Golf balls fell from the sky on Punta Gorda in Florida (above). 1976: In San Luis Opisbo in California, blackbirds and pigeons rained from the sky for two days. – Raining animals is a rare meteorological phenomenon, although occurrences have been reported from many countries throughout history.
One hypothesis that has been offered to explain this phenomenon is that strong winds travelling over water sometimes pick up creatures such as fish or frogs, and carry them for up to several miles. However, this primary aspect of the phenomenon has never been witnessed or scientifically tested. The animals most likely to drop from the sky in a rainfall are fish and frogs, with birds coming third. Sometimes the animals survive the fall, especially fish, suggesting the animals are dropped shortly after extraction. Several witnesses of raining frogs describe the animals as startled, though healthy, and exhibiting relatively normal behavior shortly after the event. In some incidents, however, the animals are frozen to death or even completely encased in ice. There are examples where the product of the rain is not intact animals, but shredded body parts. Some cases occur just after storms having strong winds, especially during tornadoes. However, there have been many unconfirmed cases in which rainfalls of animals have occurred in fair weather and in the absence of strong winds or waterspouts. Rains of animals (as well as rains of blood or blood-like material, and similar anomalies) play a central role in the epistemological writing of Charles Fort, especially in his first book, The Book
of the Damned. Fort collected stories of these events and used them both as evidence and as a metaphor in challenging the claims of scientific explanation. The English language idiom “it is raining cats and dogs”, referring to a heavy downpour, is of uncertain etymology, and there is no evidence that it has any connection to the “raining animals” phenomenon. Tornadoes may lift up animals into the air and deposit them miles away. French physicist André-Marie Ampère was among the first scientists to take seriously accounts of raining animals. He tried to explain rains of frogs with a hypothesis that was eventually refined by other scientists. Speaking in front of the Society of Natural Sciences, Ampère suggested that at times frogs and toads roam the countryside in large numbers, and that the action of violent winds can pick them up and carry them great distances. More recently, a scientific explanation for the phenomenon has been developed that involves waterspouts. Waterspouts are capable of capturing objects and animals and lifting them into the air. Under this theory, waterspouts or tornados transport animals to relatively high altitudes, carrying them over large distances. The winds are capable of carrying the animals over a relatively
wide area and allow them to fall in a concentrated fashion in a localized area. More specifically, some tornadoes can completely suck up a pond, letting the water and animals fall some distance away in the form of a rain of animals.This hypothesis appears supported by the type of animals in these rains: small and light, usually aquatic. It is also supported by the fact that the rain of animals is often preceded by a storm. However the theory does not account for how all the animals involved in each individual incident would be from only one species, and not a group of similarly-sized animals from a single area. These events may occur easily with birds in flight. In contrast, it is harder to find a plausible explanation for rains of terrestrial animals; the enigma persists despite scientific studies. Sometimes, scientists have been incredulous of extraordinary claims of rains of fish. For example, in the case of a rain of fish in Singapore in 1861, French naturalist Francis de Laporte de Castelnau explained that the supposed rain took place during a migration of walking catfish, which are capable of dragging themselves over the land from one puddle to another. Thus, he argued that the appearance of fish on the ground immediately after a rain was easily explained, as these animals usually move over soft ground or after a rain.
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