Cloudy with a chance of perch? Residents of a remote community in Australia were left puzzled last week due to a strange weather occurrence – hundreds of fish “rained from the sky” along with heavy rainfall.
Viral photos on Facebook and Twitter show the streets of the outback town called Lajamanu layered with fish that had fallen from the sky on February 21.
A news report on ABC News, a broadcasting news service in Australia, quoted Lajamanu local and Central Desert councilor Andrew Johnson Japanangka as saying: “We've seen a big storm heading up to my community, and we thought it was just rain."
However, it wasn’t just rainwater that poured down – along with a heavy downpour came some spangled perch, the most common freshwater fish in Australia.
As per the ABC News report, Japanangka said that some of the fish were at least “the size of two fingers,” and were alive when they fell.
“Some are still hanging around in the community in a puddle of water. Children are picking them up and keeping them in a bottle or a jar,” he added, according to the article.
How can fish rain down from the sky?
While this might be a surprising weather event, it is not entirely unheard of. The same phenomenon occurred in Lajamanu in 2010, 2004, and as far back as 1974.
Weather experts believe incidents like these can be caused by strong updrafts, such as tornadoes, which suck water and fish from rivers and dump them hundreds of kilometres away.
According to the report, Queensland Museum ichthyologist (scientists working in the branch of zoology devoted to the study of fish) Jeff Johnson expressed surprise that such relatively large fish as spangled perch had rained down.
Turns out there are plenty of such strange “rainfalls” that happened in history.
For instance, according to an earlier report by the Daily Mail, sugar crystals fell from the skies in Lake County, California, in 1857.
In 1940, a tornado in Russia brought a shower of coins from the 16th century.
In 1969, golf balls fell from the sky in Punta Gorda in Florida.
In 1976, in San Luis Obispo in California, blackbirds and pigeons rained from the sky for two days.
And, a 2010 book called The Handy Answer Book for Kids mentions a jellyfish shower in Bath, in England, in 1894.
On social media, most users expressed surprise; some discussed other similar strange weather events.
Twitter user, @thaole12345678 tweeted: “In an area where rain is rare, it rained fish from the sky. It happened in Lajamanu, a village at the northern end of the Tanami Desert, Australia.”
And, @Dreamer4927 wrote: “Lajamanu is not alone in experiencing the phenomenon. In 2020 the 140 residents in the outback Queensland town of Yowah, 600 miles west of Brisbane, also claimed to have witnessed raining fish.”