It’s big, long, black and was spotted slithering through the waters of China’s Yangtze River near the massive Three Gorges Dam. But it doesn’t appear to be related to the Loch Ness Monster.
Video clips shot earlier this month have rapidly circulated through Chinese and English language social media along with suggestions that the mysterious object is China’s version of the famed “Nessie.”
One Chinese university professor suggested that the video could show a large water snake rather than any sort of cryptid or new species.
No animals this large are known to ply the waters, giving rise to rumors online that perhaps pollution has fostered some sort of huge mutant specimen.
However, according to Chinese news outlet The Paper, when the water level of the river dropped a few days later, a long piece of black material snagged on a mound of rocks became visible.
Finally on Tuesday, Pear Video shared footage of crews freeing the material, which is reportedly a long piece of rubber that likely detached from a ship or shipyard at some point before later getting caught and becoming a viral sensation.
China’s CCTV tells a slightly different but still unexciting tale: that the slithering object was actually a mesh sunshade from the ferry terminal where the video was shot. The report says an employee at the terminal shared the video with friends on WeChat as a joke, but it was shared more widely and went viral. Other video angles show that the “sea monster” is actually flowing with the current very near the shore rather than in deep water.
In a world where deepfakes are quickly becoming a thing, we’re in big trouble if we can’t tell a piece of trash from giant snake.