Two strong earthquakes struck off the east coast of the North Island in New Zealand on early Friday evening, seismologists said. There were no reports of damage or casualties. The first earthquake at 4.34 p.m. local time (0434 GMT) measured 5.8 on the Richter scale and was centered about 140 kilometers (87 miles) east of Tikitiki, a small town about 100 kilometers (62 miles) northeast of Gisborne. It struck about 33 kilometers (20 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake. Several hours later, at 7.51 p.m. local time (0751 GMT), a stronger earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale struck the same area at a depth of 40 kilometers (25 miles), according to the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GeoNet), the country's seismological agency.These earthquakes comes against the background of the mass stranding of sperm whales in New Zealand and Australia. In all, 24 sperm whales and two minke whales died in a stranding on and around remote Ocean Beach in Tasmania. In an equally remote New Zealand location, the tip of Farewell Spit in the South Island, 65 pilot whales died. 91. Though whale strandings are relatively common in both countries, the past few days have been particularly tough for conservation authorities.
GeoNet said especially the second earthquake could be felt in some parts of the eastern region of the North Island. However, officials said there were no reports of damage or casualties from either earthquake and no tsunami alerts were issued. New Zealand has been struck by several earthquakes during the past year. On June 13, a strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck near the city of Christchurch on the South Island, injuring 46 people. It followed a 6.3-magnitude earthquake on February 22 near the same city, killing 181 people and injuring more than 1,500 others. The earthquake in February was the country's deadliest disaster since a powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the Hawke's Bay region on February 3, 1931, killing at least 256 people and injuring thousands more. - Channel 6 News.
It is believed that animals have a keen sense, developed in their avoidance of predators and ability to locate preys, that helps them to detect imminent or pending disasters. Scientists and experts theorizes that this is due to the sensing of the vibrations of the planet or the changes in the air or gases released by the Earth. Whatever the reason is, animals have been known to swarm, collect or move to a different area from their usual gathering spot prior to a devastating disaster such as an earthquake, tsunami or floods. This fact was noted in the 2004 tsunami, where an earthquake in the Indian Ocean caused a massive tsunami to take the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Asia and East Africa, but didn't cause any mass die-off of animals.
Is it possible that there is a link between these mass stranding and the earthquakes? Take note of this, earlier this year, on February 21st, 107 pilot whales died after a mass stranding on a remote New Zealand beach. Several hours later a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit the Canterbury Region in New Zealand's South Island. The earthquake caused widespread damage across Christchurch, especially in the central city and eastern suburbs, with damage exacerbated by buildings and infrastructure already being weakened by the 4 September 2010 earthquake and its aftershocks. Significant liquefaction affected the eastern suburbs, producing around 400,000 tonnes of silt. The earthquake was reported to be felt across the South Island and the lower and central North Island. In total, 181 people were killed in the earthquake, making the earthquake the second-deadliest natural disaster recorded in New Zealand. A month later, on March 4th, about 50 melon-headed whales were found to have beached on the shore in Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecture, in eastern Japan and only 22 were rescued and returned to the sea. Several days later, a strong 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Japan, followed by the 9.1 magnitude mega-earthquake on March 11th that shifted the Earth's axis, resulting in a mega-disaster that unleashed a devastating tsunami and a nuclear nightmare at Fukushima.