Scary, bizarre sea monster washes ashore in Australia; Loch Ness Monster?

A photo of a "sea monster" created a buzz of curiosity until an expert stepped forward to identify it.
A photo of a “sea monster” created a buzz of curiosity until an expert stepped forward to identify it. Photo: Robert Tyndall via the Newcastle Herald

A frightening and bizarre “sea monster” that washed ashore on Lake Macquarie in Australia created a buzz of curiosity when a photo of it was posted on Facebook on Monday, leading some to jokingly suggest it was the Loch Ness Monster.

The Daily Telegraph described the “monster from the deep” as like a giant eel with the head of the Frankenstein love-child of a crocodile and dolphin.

A “messed-up crocodile,” a mystery lake monster and giant eel were some of the other descriptions given the sea monster. Some even suggested it was Photoshopped.

The photo was taken by Robert Tyndall near the Swansea boat ramp on what is Australia’s largest coastal saltwater lagoon in New South Wales. The 13-mile-long lake is connected to the Tasman Sea by a short channel. The sighting was said to be near the mouth of the lake.

Lake Macquarie where the sea monster washed ashore.
Lake Macquarie where the sea monster washed ashore. Source: Google Maps

After much speculation, sparked by Ethan Tippa posting the photo on Facebook, an expert came forward and identified the sea monster as “definitely a pike eel,” a species common to New South Wales waters.

Marine biologist Julian Pepperell revealed the true identity via stories by the Newcastle Herald and Illawarra Mercury on Tuesday.

“The head is very indicative of that species,” Pepperell told the Mercury.

“It’s hard from the photo to get an idea of the scale.”

While it looks huge, the pike eel measured only about 4 1/2 feet. They can grow to about 6 feet.

“I knew it was some kind of eel and it’s a big eel, but it definitely looks bigger [in the photo],” Tyndall told the Herald. “I think everyone enjoys using their imagination. Judging by the comments, it was growing by the minute.”

As for speculation the photo was doctored, Tyndall told the Herald he doesn’t know anything about computers.

What the speculation got right is the scary part. This sea creature can be downright dangerous with its powerful thrashing and nasty bite when encountered by fishermen.

Fishermen who catch a pike eel at night get “the fight of their lives,” Pepperell told the Mercury.

“There are certainly people who are bitten by them in boats,” he said. “They have incredibly strong muscle and their teeth are geared towards inflicting slashing wounds.”

Wrote the Mercury, “An old fishers’ adage goes that a tinnie [a small aluminum boat] has room for a fisherman or a pike eel, but not both.”

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