Just when you thought the waters were safe to enter, a spooky sea creature is pulled from the Raritan River in New Jersey.
A picture of the alien-like creature has gone viral, reeling in 400,000 views on Reddit in only six hours after being posted last Friday.
GrindTV reports that fisherman Doug Cutler, a New Jersey native, was fishing in the river when he saw the creature and decided to spear it with a bow and arrow.
Because lampreys only usually measure three feet on average, the posted photo has launched an extensive online discussion as to whether the photographer manipulated the original. Another rampant theory is that the camera angle is misleading as to its actual size.
“There was no Photoshop whatsoever,” said Cutler. “It was two years ago. A friend recently posted those pictures because we were having a contest about who had the weirdest catch. It’s nothing new to the Raritan.”
Regardless, the photo is dropping jaws and taking names.
By definition, lampreys are jawless vertebrates that appear as eels. The beasts are often parasitic, attaching themselves to fish and sucking their blood.
A spokeswoman from New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation made the following statement via e-mail: “The photo doesn’t allow counting of gill openings (seven per side for sea lamprey), but based on size alone, this does appear to be a sea lamprey.”
A sea lamprey normally spends its egg and larval days in fresh water and eventually moves out to sea when older. Because of their parasitic nature and ability to diminish fish populations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife has extensively studied the species.
There has been much discussion online as to whether the strange looking creature should have been released back into the river. Some argue the photo is quite barbaric, while others are relieved to see the “monster” removed from the Raritan River.
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