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Finny Phenom Felt a Flop Coming

June 13, 1989|MARIA NEWMAN | Times Staff Writer

When students reported to biology teacher Ron Schnitger's class Monday, Oscar the fish was swimming on his side again. It was hardly a surprise when they learned a short time later that another earthquake had hit.

According to Schnitger and his students at Newport Beach's Corona del Mar High School, Oscar, an otherwise-ordinary freshwater South American red oscar that is blind in one eye, has predicted the last 15 or 20 temblors--large or small--that have rippled through the Southland. That includes Monday's two shakers that whipsawed across central Los Angeles County.

Oscar swims on his side when he detects a temblor, Schnitger says. Although he shares a classroom aquarium with several other fish, including a couple of other red oscars, this Oscar is the only one to make the peculiar sideways motion.

But "after the quake is over," Schnitger said, "he's back up to normal."

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