8

Well, I came across variations of this belief many times. I.e., here:

While more than 2,00,000 people died in the devastating tsunami that struck several nations around the Bay of Bengal and the Indain Ocean on the 26th of December, 2004, hardly any wild animals were found dead. There are many reports of wild and domestic animals behaving abnormally just before the tsunami struck and saving themselves by running to higher ground.

Then there is a considerable list of anecdotal examples.

Has this claim been verified, that is, was their behaviour before the tsunami any different from normal and was there a surprisingly small number of animal casualties?

3

The answer is that we just don't know, I think it is best summed up by Andy Michael, a geophysicist at USGS:

What we're faced with is a lot of anecdotes, animals react to so many things—being hungry, defending their territories, mating, predators—so it's hard to have a controlled study to get that advanced warning signal. Source

It has however been reported that elephants "hear" with their feet, so the idea that they could sense the vibrations associated with an earthquake are at the very least plausible. Once again, we just don't know for sure as earthquakes are a tricky thing to test.

  • 1
    The main claim is really about the quantity of casualties among the animals. If it was small, then the second part - is it a part of normal behavior (i.e., if a certain animal spends this time of day inland, then of course there are no casualties and this is normal). The reasons for such an alleged behavior were addressed in other similar question already... – sashkello May 3 '14 at 1:04

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