How do animals sense natural disasters like hurricanes and tsunamis?



I’ve heard stories about how animals display changed behaviour before natural disasters. What phenomenon in the environment triggers this behaviour in animals? How do they sense imminent danger?

In: Earth Science

Surely this is simply pressure, humidity and temperature changes? Human beings are quite capable of sensing the same things “directly” (i.e. without weather satellites). I’m sure if you found an old fisherman that had recently survived a tsunami they’d be able to tell you they noticed the change in the weather beforehand.

Animals, in addition to being able to gauge changes in the environment, have senses or capabilities of which humans dont. We need help to gauge seismic activity or impending rain or stars for direction, animals have that built into their sensory capabilities. Some animals like turtles are sensitive to electromagnetism which is like a built in compass. It’s truly fascinating.

When there’s a storm, the air pressure and temperature drops. Animals have adapted to be more aware of these changes so that they know to go shelter. Humans can detect it too, we just don’t pay attention to it because storms aren’t as bothersome to us as they are to creatures who live outside because we’ve built strong shelters and conditioned ourselves to not be afraid of storms (except me, I have a severe phobia of storms). The tsunami thing is more to do with being able to detect the vibrations of the earthquake that caused the tsunami, rather than detecting the tsunami itself.

Next time there’s a storm coming, pay attention and you’ll find you’ll be able to sense the drop in temperature and pressure. I’m more aware of it because of my phobia, so my body is on high alert for storms like the animals outside.