Raining fish in Lajamanu, Northern Territory Australia

Rain is rare enough in Lajamanu, a community in the arid Northern Territory outback 560 kilometres southwest of Katherine near the Tanami Desert, but what happened on Sunday night has been labelled an “act of god”.

The remote community, which you probably had to use Google Maps to find, made global headlines this week after small, live fish “rained from the sky” during a weather event on Sunday night.

“We’ve seen a big storm heading up to my community, and we thought it was just rain,” Andrew Johnson Japanangka Lajamanu, local and Central Desert councillor, told the ABC earlier this week that the community was expecting some nasty weather, but what happened next was totally unexpected.

“When the rain started falling, we’ve seen fish falling down as well,” he said.

“(They were) the size of two fingers.”

“Some are still hanging around in the community in a puddle of water.

“Children are picking them up and keeping them in a bottle or a jar.

“We saw some freefalling down to the ground. And some falling onto the roof.

“It was the most amazing thing we’ve ever seen.

“I think it’s a blessing from the Lord.”

They say lightning never strikes the same spot twice, though it appears falling fish do.

It marks the fourth fish rain 50 years – once in 1974, once in 2004 and another time in 2010.

In 2016, another event saw the drought-stricken of Winton in outback Queensland swimming with fish after a 75mm drenching.

That year Dr Peter Unmack, an ecologist at the University of Canberra, spoke on the phenomenon of fish falling in outback Australia.

Experts believe a potential cause could be a strong updraft, like a tornado, that sucked fish-filled water from a water source and dropped them miles away.

Dr Unmack said it would be extraordinary for fish to return to earth alive.

“It is theoretically possible, but it’s difficult to see many situations where fish get picked up by strong winds and can survive,” He said.

Jeff Johnson, an ichthyologist – a zoologist who studies fishes – from the Queensland Museum, told the ABC Sunday’s weather event was “the real thing”.

“They are a relatively large fish, and they’re not able to be drawn up out of the water and held up in the sky for very long,” he said.

“But clearly, that’s what has happened.”

Mr Johnson confirmed the fish were common freshwater fish – spangled perch, or spangled grunters.

Originally published as Lajamanu: The outback town where it rains fish

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