Lajamanu – The Arid Australian Town Where It Keeps Raining Fish

Lajamanu, a remote community in the Australian outback, near the Tanami Desert, recently experienced its fourth rain of fish in the last 50 years.

They say lightning never strikes in the same place twice, but apparently the same cannot be said about raining fish. The arid town of Lajamanu, in the Northern Territory outback, sees very little normal rain, but somehow it has experienced no less than four ‘fish rains’ in the last half-century – once in 1974, another in 2004, again in 2010, and last Sunday. Although the nearest fish-containing body of water is many miles away, locals swear that live fish started falling from the sky during a powerful storm, and they even have photos to back up those claims.

Photo: pietro caspani/Unsplash

We’ve seen a big storm heading up to my community and we thought it was just rain,” Lajamanu local and Central Desert councilor Andrew Johnson Japanangka told ABC News. “But when the rain started falling, we’ve seen fish falling down as well.”

“We saw some free-falling down to the ground. And some falling onto the roof,” Japanangka added. “It was the most amazing thing we’ve ever seen. I think it’s a blessing from the Lord.”


Such unusual natural phenomena have been reported in the past, but Michael Hammer, a curator of fishes who have investigated such incidents in the past, claims that many times people just come out after the rain and see the fish scattered everywhere. They don’t actually see it falling out of the sky, but prefer to believe it rained from the clouds, rather than a more logical explanation – like the fish being flooded out of a waterhole.

However, in the case of Lajamanu, there is plenty of reason to believe that the fish did rain down during a storm. There are no watering holes near the remote town, and the fish picked up from the streets were identified as spangled perch, or spangled grunters, common freshwater fish that had no business being in Lajamanu.


“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,” ichthyologist Jeff Johnson said. “But clearly that’s what has happened.”

Another baffling thing about this most recent case of raining fish is that the people of Lajamanu insist that at least some of the fish were alive. Dr. Hammer admits that, as long as they were not lifted too high and frozen mid-air, it would not be impossible for fish to remain alive as they are carried by the storm, even over long distances.


While uncommon, raining fish isn’t unheard of. In places like Honduras, for example, it’s a yearly occurrence. However, in dry places like the Australian outback, it’s definitely something you don’t expect to see, ever.