The creature was spotted by a boater named Jeff Warren on Friday afternoon at the Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuge off the coast of Georgia. He told Action News Jax that he first believed it was a dead seal. However, after getting a bit closer, he said it resembled a "Loch Ness-type thing."
The dead animal sports an elongated neck and a tiny head, not unlike the plesiosaur from the Jurassic period, which is often associated with mythical sea-dwellers.
Local urban legends in Georgia include a similar creature, known as Altamaha-ha. The cryptid, which locals call "Altie" for short, was said to live within small stream networks and abandoned rice fields at the mouth of the Altamaha River. Sightings are not uncommon in Darien and other parts of McIntosh County, although Warren's unusually clear image of the monster caused an uproar in the community.
Interestingly, a report by Patch claims that the area surrounding the Altamaha River was originally settled by Scot Highlanders, which could mean that the legend of the Loch Ness Monster travelled with them and adapted to the new terrain. However, the origin of Altamaha-ha is also often attributed to the Muscogee people.
Warren sent his clip to local news outlets.
"This isn't a joke," Warren wrote, according to a report by Savannah Now. "There was a heron and some seagulls pulling its guts out and eating them but they flew away when I got close." However, Warren didn't recover the corpse, and later on it couldn't be found again.
"Woahhhhh!" texted Chantal Audran of the Tybee Island Marine Science Center. "It looks like a deep sea shark, like a frilled shark. Although I don't see gill slits." She and a colleague agreed on their guess, and expressed their wish to get a closer look.
"The body was unfortunately not recovered," she wrote. "Boy, if I could get my scalpel on that guy, the awesome things I could learn!"
Many other local experts attributed the body to a decomposing shark, or else a hoax attempting to drum up media coverage for the Altamaha-ha legend. However, Warren said that he and his son had already decided on their own conclusion.
"My son, who is 12, thinks it is the child of the legendary Altamaha-ha and has now decided he wants to be a marine biologist," Warren told the outlet.