Gawker, Cryptomundo, and Gather hyped the existence of a "sea monster" found near New York City's Brooklyn Bridge in May. But, according to scientists, that "frightening" and "grotesque mystery creature" is really just a fish. And, there are nearly 10,000 other fish like that in the river.
After much speculation over the "monster," biologist Kim Durham identified the discovery as an Atlantic sturgeon. But, this hype could have be avoided by simply checking with a scientific expert before publication.
As Life's Little Mysteries reported, Durham, also New York's Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation rescue program director, explained that some Atlantic sturgeon are twice as big as the one recently found-- at 12 feet in length.
Durham is quoted as saying:
"We could tell it was an Atlantic sturgeon right away. "They have bony plates all over their bodies. There's no mistaking a sturgeon."
Bloggers on the "Sea Monster"
One of the most vivid descriptions of this "monster"-fish came from Gawker, which described the animal as having the "scales of a fish, body of a serpent, head of a pit bull, and was the size of a large alligator."
Gawker then added that "it's even grosser than the Montauk Monster." Upon later adding the fish's identification as a sturgeon, Gawker commented "it was fun while it lasted" speculating on the animal. The Gawker story on the "sea monster" had more han 75,000 views in the week it's been online, demonstrating the far reach of the speculating story.
CryptoMundo reported about the "sea monster" claims, but later admitted that it and Gawker "jumped the gun" seemingly for calling it a "monster," and added the update with the fish's identification.
The hype made its way to mainstream media outlets like Fox News, which reported about the speculation. After calling the fish "ugly" and a "seven-foot long beast," Fox News explained, "theories ran the gamut from horse to alligator to Loch Ness beast -- or even a relative of the Montauk Monster."
Gather, for example, did note that the "sea monster" had been identified by marine biologists, but still questioned if it was "the illegitimate child of the Montauk Monster."
"But then came the scientists, taking all the imagination out of the discovery. They really know how to ruin a good monster find, calling it an ordinary Atlantic sturgeon."
The problem with this type of "monster speculation" is that science is freakified. StinkyJournalism wrote last year when blogger and media reporting on an isopod found on an ROV turned into reports of a beast-like "terrifying sea creature." According to reports, it is unlikely humans would ever encounter the isopod as it lives 8,500 feet under water. See here.
The Atlantic Sturgeon
New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) notes that the sturgeon is even displayed on the Hudson River estuary's logo! The fish is the "largest fish" in the Hudson River, according to the DEC.
Maryland's Department of Natural Resources features a page on the Atlantic sturgeon and offers more information about the fish. According to the Maryland DNR, the average length of the "mature" male and female sturgeon is between five and six feet long and the weight is between 90 and 160 pounds.
The fish can be found between Florida and Canada and as far west as the Mississippi delta. Maryland's DNR adds that they are "bottom-feeders" and eat "worms, crustaceans, insect larvae, and mollusks."
Fox News reported that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 1995 study stated the Hudson River is home to "about 9,500 juvenile Atlantic sturgeons."