CINCINNATI (TDB) -- There are rumors of catfish the size of cars lurking in the Ohio River. And folks on Ohio's North Coast
have long been on the lookout for Bessie, the Lake Erie monster, who also may have a Cretaceous-appearing colleague in Lake Superior. But the first big monster tale of the summer -- just in time for the dog days of August -- comes from Montauk, where the unidentified creature pictured above supposedly washed ashore on a Long Island beach. Gawker broke the story and published the photo. Nobody knows whether it's a hoax, mad science from a nearby government laboratory, or some kind of publicity stunt. Theories abound, though not all are accompanied by shark music in the background. One possibility: A turtle that lost its shell. Gawker first reported:
"A tipster says that there is 'a government animal testing facility very close by in Long Island,' but unless the government is trying to design horrible Montauk monsters that will eat IEDs and fart fire at bad Iraqis, we're not sure why they would create such an unthinkable beast. Our guess is that it's viral marketing for something."
Then came suggestions that it was tied to a promotion for the Cartoon Network, though the sight of such a carcass should scare the beejeesus out of kids. This thing looks like something that swam away from Jurassic Park, and not due to any fear of the local T-Rex clan.
There's now a report in Plum from the Hampton's that several witnesses actually saw the thing dead on the beach. Plum added that the four government scientists it spoke with, none identified, said it was like nothing they have seen before. The photographer whose picture is on the Internet is going to be on TV Friday.
Associated Content says the kinds of intellects who are susceptible to conspiracy theories seem to be leaning towards the proposition that the monster came from a federal lab:
"Speculation about the identity of the Montauk Monster is rampant. Many skeptical Americans believe that the Montauk Monster is a publicity stunt. The most conspiracy-minded are sure the Montauk monster is detritus from a sinister government operation. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-operated Plum Island animal testing facility is nearby, fueling the belief that the USDA is responsible; some would see the Montauk Monster as a hideous USDA experiment gone wrong while others might consider it a not -so-unexpected byproduct of animal experimentation. The simplest explanation might be that the Montauk Monster is a natural mutation of some sort of ordinary Earth animal, but which one?"
A mutation? A hairless beaver, or a beaked otter? If these things start floating ashore in Toledo or Cleveland, everybody would suspect the cause of the mutation. The water that flows into Lake Erie from Detroit.
[UPDATE: 8:38 pm -- This comment thread on Snopes.com has a lot of chatter contending the Montauk Monster is a drowned raccoon that lost its fur and decomposed a bit. Does exposure to Atlantic seawater cause mange? That's one question posed. Another possible species: A seal.]