Newsweek 16 June 2018
The idea of an octopus flying through the air sounds like something straight out of a science fiction novel, but it appears this is exactly what happened during a violent storm in one of China’s coastal cities.
A photo of an octopus that looks as though it had fallen from the sky, after being swept from the sea, went viral on Chinese social media after someone snapped the picture during the storm on Wednesday in the city Qingdao. Other photos from the storm also showed images of mollusks and shellfish flying through the air.
While the photos may seem improbable, sea life can be sucked from the water by high-strength winds. This bizarre weather event is believed to occur after tornadoes hover over water to create what is called a waterspout, which can lift fish or other animals from the sea, The Daily Mail reported. The creatures that are whisked away with the wind can land hundreds of yards or even miles away.
In the picture that spread on Chinese social media, an octopus is pictured upside-down on the windshield of a car in the pouring rain. Other photos from the storm show other sea creatures also managed to deposit themselves onto cars. One depicts a red and yellow starfish stuck next to a wiper blade on someone’s windshield, with its arms curled up toward the sky. Then there is a few shrimp hanging out on the glass in front of someone’s rearview mirror.
The phrase “seafood rain” began spreading online after photos from the storm showed different creatures on cars following the rainstorm in Shandong Province.
The hurricane-force winds registered a 12 on the Beaufort scale and caused widespread destruction throughout the city. These wind speeds during the storm set a new record for June in this area, the Mail reported.
It might seem strange, but the phenomenon has been documented before. Last September, several fish dropped from the sky in Mexico before flopping onto the pavement. At least one startled witness recorded a video, NPR reported at the time.
The U.S. Library of Congress also documents there have been reports of sea life raining from the sky as far back as ancient civilizations.
“Of course, it doesn’t ‘rain’ frogs or fish in the sense that it rains water—no one has ever seen frogs or fish vaporize into the air before a rainfall. However, strong winds, such as those in a tornado or hurricane, are powerful enough to lift animals, people, trees, and houses,” the library posting notes. “It is possible that they could suck up a school of fish or frogs and ‘rain’ them elsewhere.”