A mysterious carcass washed up on a New Zealand beach last week, causing local citizens to speculate that it may have been a “sea monster.”
The creature, measuring about 30 feet long and displaying razor-like teeth, was found half-buried in sand on a Pukehina, New Zealand, beach, Sun Live reports. Soon after, a beachgoer posted a video of the decomposing remains to YouTube, asking for the public’s help in classifying the “sea monster.”
The video’s commentators have spent the last week speculating about the creature, suggesting that it could be anything from a sea monster to a saltwater crocodile. However, marine mammal expert Anton van Helden told New Zealand’s Channel 3 that the carcass is most likely that of a killer whale.
Van Helden cited the carcass’ distinctive flippers as evidence that it was an orca, but couldn’t determine how the mammal had ended up on a beach in Pukehina.
"It's hard to say how it died," he told Channel 3.
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The orca, also known as the killer whale, can be found anywhere from the polar regions to the Equator, according to National Geographic. The deadly hunters travel in family groups of up to 40 members, known as “pods.”
This isn’t the first time that an otherwise innocuous carcass was mistaken for that of a “monster.” In 2008, residents of Montauk, New York, discovered the remains of a small creature on a local beach. The carcass, dubbed the “Montauk Monster,” caused a media frenzy, as various outlets endeavored to identify its actual origins.
Much like New Zealand’s sea monster scare, the Montauk Monster ended up falling far short of fantasy. Several members of the scientific community determined that the corpse was merely a raccoon in an advanced stage of decomposition.