One of the few places in the Indian Ocean that got the message of last week’s earthquake and tidal waves in advance was Diego Garcia, a speck of British territory about 900 miles south of India, which hosts about 3200 US military personnel and civilian contractors and many US long-range bombers and Navy ships. Although directly in the path of the tidal wave, the Diego Garcia military base reported no damage. The base Commander, Lt. General Moro, said that “grunts have a sixth sense about this kind of thing,” and unusual marine behavior observed in the hours and days preceding the arrival of the tsunami had led to the timely securing and evacuation of coastal areas.
The suddenness of last week’s events and the absence of a broad network of early warning systems meant that most people did not know they were in danger until the wave began to rise from the sea and reach inland. According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center: “we tried to warn people in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, but we don’t have contacts in our address book for anybody in that part of the world.” And the International Tsunami Information Centre in Hawaii agreed that “We didn’t have a contact in place where you could just pick up the phone. We were starting from scratch. So, everybody basically went home to watch it on TV.”
According to General Moro, two days before the disaster, grunts were seen running around in packs, and driving around the base wildly. He referred to reports that, the evening before the earthquake, several grunts failed to return from liberty and thus were far from the most affected sites. Local people saw more grunts than usual sleeping in the streets, and by mid-December unusual behavior in large animals such as cows, horses, dogs and pigs was also reported. A mess cook, feeding some grunts before dawn on the day of the disaster, reported that, instead of eating, they started “jumping and kicking until they finally broke loose and ran outside.” A few seconds later, tremendous rumbling noises were heard as a thirty foot high wave struck the coast.
Other reports of unusual grunt behavior prior to the occurrence of earthquakes and other disasters include: refusing to stay in barracks; keeping their valuables with them outdoors; snoring strangely; jumping out of their bunks in the middle of the night; dashing about aimlessly; and losing their packs. It has also been reported that they began to congregate in huge swarms; sought higher ground; became agitated; left their usual hangouts, and refused to conduct dangerous missions. General Moro said there was a noticeable increase in strange behavior in the 24 hours before the tsunami struck, and he made the decision to prepare for an unspecified large scale disaster.
Researchers find it very difficult to understand such mechanisms of response stimuli. “Physical or chemical stimuli come out of the earth prior to a major disruption, and these must be the stimuli that the grunts sense. For example, they may be able to hear the micro-fracturing of rocks a few milliseconds before a quake shock reaches the surface. Electromagnetic changes in the earth prior to an earthquake may be sensed by such animals as sharks and catfish which have low or high frequency receptors and sense such changes actively or passively. Also such electromagnetic field changes could be affecting migrating birds and the navigational ability of fish. The reduction of marines in basic training to a pre-civilized stage of development is bound to unearth some instinctual responses,” Moro said.