Did Animals Predict Hawaii's Big Quake

Francis Takaba
Francis Takaba
Peter Luscomb
Peter Luscomb
Dwight Synan
Dwight Synan

(KHNL) -- Sunday's earthquake took all of us by surprise. But what about our four legged friends?

Some animal lovers think their pets have special psychic powers, while others say that's nonsense.

There's no hard evidence, but among some in the community, there's a long-standing belief that certain animals start acting funny before a major tremor.

Francis Takaba's border collie Trina plays at this dog park every day.

She's alert and playful now. But she wasn't when the earthquake hit Sunday.

"She slept right through it," said Takaba, a Kaimuki resident. "The windows started to rattle and I looked at her. She didn't move. She was still asleep."

But that morning, some of the other neighborhood dogs seem to know something big was about the happen.

"Some of the dogs started barking before the earthquake," she said. "But not her. She would not make a good alarm."

Dwight Synan survived two major quakes: Sunday's.

"This past time it was eerily quiet," said Synan, a Palolo Valley resident.

And a major tremor in Kobe, Japan.

"Back in the '95 earthquake, it was actually very loud and animated before the earthquake struck," he said.

But what about other animals?

Honolulu zoo keepers said animals here did not behave strangely before the quake, but some were spooked by the shaking.

But there are members of the animal kingdom that may have special detection skills.

Elephants communicate in ultra low frequency sound waves, so low we cannot hear them. There's some indication they can feel vibrations in the earth even before we can.

"Well the only thing we know of is the incident in Indonesia where they had the tidal wave, there were indications that there were elephants prior to the tsunami actually hitting, moved inland," said Peter Luscomb, curator for the Honolulu Zoo. "And there is a feeling that they were able to sense something."

Whether an elephant or a dog, our mammal friends are getting back to their normal routine.

And Trina gets a treat even if she can't predict earthquakes.

There is no concrete scientific evidence animals can detect earthquake vibrations. The problem, scientists say, is that earthquakes don't happen that often and they happen without warning. So it's difficult to monitor animal behavior before a tremor hits.