People have been spinning tales of amazing and terrifying sea monsters since the ancient times. As outlandish as these stories may seem, the idea behind them is likely inspired by very real creatures.
On the beaches of Mexico it’s common to see all sorts of aquatic life, but what scientists found back in late December of 2014 was like nothing anyone had seen before…
When this strange corpse washed ashore on Mexico’s Laguna Ojo de Liebre, people were baffled. Especially since it didn’t look like anything from this Earth!
Naturally, there was talk about sea monsters and mythical creatures and the sort. But as strange as this animal looked, it didn’t come from a faraway land.
The unusual creature was roughly seven feet long. Its body had fins on either side, and it had not one, but two tails. Strangely, it also appeared to have four eyes…
Whatever animal it was, one thing was certain: this had never been seen before. So, just what the heck was it?
The ‘monster’ was actually a pair of extremely rare conjoined gray whale twins! Most newborn gray whales are about 12 feet long; clearly, something had gone very wrong with this birth.
Scientists speculated that the pair was likely the product of a miscarriage. While it may be a relief that this was not actually a sea monster, it’s upsetting that such innocent creatures could never survive for long in the wild.
It should be noted that these conjoined whale twins were found on a December day. Most gray whales are born between the beginning of January and the middle of February, so these may have been premature.
Gabriel Barathieu / WIkimedia Commons
Though humans are the only natural predators of these whales (other than orcas), the Eastern North Pacific gray whales are filed under “least concern” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
José Eugenio Gómez Rodríguez / Wikimedia Commons
Because of the prevalence of whaling, in which they’re hunted for parts of their bodies like their meat and bones, some species are now extinct. The North Atlantic gray whale has been extinct since the 18th century.
Ryan Somma / Wikimedia Commons
Luckily, the species that are still alive to this day are, like any other marine mammal, absolutely majestic. Hopefully, this was just a freak accident, and the mother is fine…
Merrill Gosho / Wikimedia Commons
Conjoined whales are hardly the only mysterious things washing up on shore. Just check out this purple blob a family in Auckland, New Zealand spotted in the sand. They had no idea what it was — or what it was capable of.
Adam and Eve Dickinson via News Hub
Naturally, the two kids, Sofia and Lucas, sprinted over to it with all the reckless abandon of children on a mission to satisfy their curiosities about something wildly unsafe and potentially dangerous.
Adam and Eve Dickinson via Newshub
This concerned parents, Adam and Eve, who didn’t wish to see their children succumb to a purple, potentially poisonous beach blob, so they, too, approached the mysterious thing in the sand.
Eve Dickinson / Facebook
“My initial thought was ‘don’t let my kids touch it,'” Adam told the news sometime after the ordeal. With the family of four now all gathered around the mystery substance, they all echoed the same question: what the heck was it?
The Dickinson’s launched an informal investigation. The first thing they noticed? The purple blob was pulsating. Moving. Like Frankenstein’s monster, it was alive.
“It almost looked like a load of muscles contracting,” Adam recalled. “It was pretty incredible and really hard to describe.” Meanwhile, the kids were reminded of something oddly specific when they looked at the blob.
Lucas told his mom the creature looked like a volcano; it had, after all, sloping sides and what looked like a crater of bubbling purple lava. This was obviously no volcano, so the Dickinsons investigated further.
Despite their initial concerns about the pulsating creature, the family — to our benefit — proceeded to place check after check on the list of things you should not do to foreign, potentially dangerous things…
Eve Dickinson / Facebook
For instance, Lucas and Sofia blew on the thing. To the kids’ delights, the more they blew on the creature, the more it moved, confirming, yep, it was very much alive and was very much aware of outside stimuli.
With this understanding, the Dickinsons grabbed a stick and prodded the blob. Sure enough, Eve recalled the creature moved even more when the stick prodded its meat.
While the kids poked, prodded, and blew on the creature, Adam and Eve noted something peculiar about the beach: tons of jellyfish were scattered across the shore. This answered the question, right?
2cycle2gether / flickr
See, for a moment, they thought their mystery creature was just a jellyfish washed ashore. But still, their pulsating friend looked nothing like the other jellyfish. Maybe their guy was just upside down or something?
So with their stick, the Dickinsons flipped over some of the other jellyfish that’d washed up on the shore, hoping this would prove their creature was just a really big, really upside-down jellyfish.
But even upside-down, the landlocked jellyfish still looked nothing like the captivating creature that had so entranced the family. They were back to square one, so, eventually, the marine experts chimed in with answers.
A member of New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Diana Macpherson, knew almost instantly what this “common” creature was.
The purple, pulsating blob that had entranced Adam, Eve, Sofia, and Lucas on the jellyfish-laden shores of Pakiri Beach was, according to Diana, the largest species of jellyfish found in New Zealand waters: the lion’s mane jellyfish!
These huge jellyfish can grow as big as seven feet wide with tentacles a hundred feet long. Those long tentacles give it a sort of lion’s mane — hence the creature’s name.
As it turned out, Adam was right to want to keep his kids away initially. While these jellyfish aren’t deadly, their tentacles carry toxins that can deliver some serious welts to those unfortunate enough to get caught in the “mane.”
This particular jellyfish was also a bit of an oddity. Normally, lion’s manes wash up on shore in the summer or spring, when plankton start blooming. This one washed up in autumn.
Whatever the odds of a lion’s mane washing up in September, the Dickinsons were delighted with the experience. “It was incredible,” Adam recalled.