Giant Squid Viral Photo Hoax: Image Of 160-Foot Giant Sea Creature Washing Ashore Sweeps Social Media

on January 11 2014 11:30 AM

A giant squid photo appearing on a satirical news site quickly went viral but was soon proven to be little more than a hoax. The image of a 160-foot squid washing ashore in California appeared on The Lightly Braised Turnip but went viral as it shared on social media.

Giant Squid Hoax An image of a giant squid went viral but this image shows the source photo used in the hoax.  Twitpic/Fabeilo

As reported by National Geographic and Orlando Sentinel, the giant squid photo is a complete fake. A quick look at the origin of the photo, from the Lightly Braised Turnip, would have most people questioning the validity of the image. A Twitpic user, Fabeilo, found the original source of the image, depicting a crowd looking at a whale that washed ashore.

The site, much like the Daily Currant, appears to be a regular news site but quickly turns farcical. Recent headlines include “Exclusive Interview with Santa Claus on Diverse Santas” and several articles covering giant radioactive sea monsters, including a giant squid, giant oarfish and a “Giant Fukushima Squid Found in Central Cali.”

The headline attached to the giant squid photo reads “Second Giant Sea Creature Washes Ashore Along Santa Monica Coastline – Alarms Sound Over Radioactive Gigantism.” The article continues its Fukushima narrative by stating this “sea creature” was a byproduct of radioactive gigantism. The “local radioactive gigantism expert” quoted in the article does not exist nor does the listed institution, Santa Marino College. Another individual, Bruce Kenner, is listed as a marine biologist but is a fictional creation.

Reddit was also quick to discredit the article, listing several issues with the reporting of a giant squid washing ashore in Santa Monica, Calif.  As Reddit and National Geographic point, these tales of radioactive gigantism seem inspired by the origins of “Godzilla.” Snopes also confirmed the giant squid photo was a hoax.

An analysis from Sherry Brukbacher, a news photo editor at National Geographic, states that all the shadows are wrong in the photo, a sure sign of a fake. Brukbacher points to the shadow underneath the giant squid as a sign of forgery as a sea creature washing ashore would lie flush on the beach. National Geographic says the largest giant squid on record measured 43 feet in length, citing the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

Most photos that go viral tend to be shared with little context. Twitter accounts that tweet out incredible photos tend to do so without much attribution or a user sends out a photo with incorrect information that gets picked up and spreads across the Internet.

In the case of sea serpents, there were two cases in 2013 of giant creatures washing ashore in California. The creatures measured 14-feet and 18-feet in length but their size was not due to radioactive gigantism. The creatures that washed ashore were Oarfish, deep-sea fish that are rarely seen and grow to 50 feet in length.

While not quite on the level of a giant squid, an image of snow-covered seats at Lambeau Field was shared on Twitter prior to the Green Bay Packers’ playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 5. The photo is real but was taken on Dec.  22, notes Deadspin

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