“Altie” is a famous folklore creature people have reported seeing for over 150 years.
It’s not a gigantic fang-tooth snake eel, and it’s (probably) not the Loch Ness Monster. But no one’s quite sure what it is.
Including the people in charge of figuring that out.
On March 19, WJAX-TV, a small news station in Jacksonville, Florida, reported that a local man discovered the bizarre sea creature washed up on Wolf Island beach, near the Florida-Georgia border.
When WJAX published their story, the internet went wild. National outlets soon picked up the news, and social media was abuzz with armchair speculators guessing what the strange creature was.
A director at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told WJAX-TV that the creature might be a decomposed basking shark. A basking shark is a migratory fish that can grow up to 32 feet long, according to the University of Florida. Due to the way it decomposes, it resembles a prehistoric creature.
We have not a clue what’s in that water or the rest of the universe for that matter. RT @wbir: Mysterious 'sea creature' discovered on Wolf Island beach in South Georgia https://t.co/v1UiV7ClEm pic.twitter.com/4XGJJwLnp2
— Charlamagne Tha God (@cthagod) March 20, 2018
But the Georgia Department of Natural Resources told Dose they think the whole thing could just be a hoax.
Paul Medders, who works with the agency’s Marine Education and Public Outreach arm, said the agency hasn’t been able to find the carcass. Medders said the high tide could have washed it back out to sea.
The agency hasn’t been able to get in touch with Warren or with anyone else who’s seen the creature. “A Facebook account belonging to Jeff Warren was originally tagged in the photos, but that tag was later removed and then the account went offline,” Medders said.
Dose was unable to contact Warren.
But a local writer told WJXT-TV, an independent news station in Jacksonville, that the creature looked like Altamaha-ha, a legendary serpent that’s said to inhabit the marshlands of McIntosh County, Georgia, not far from Wolf Island.
Altamaha-ha, colloquially known as “Altie,” has been described as a 30-foot-long animal with “flippers like a seal.”
According to Explore Southern History, a site run by the historian Dale Cox, an early sighting of the Altamaha-ha was printed in the Savannah Georgian newspaper in 1830:
He repeated the…particulars precisely, describing the animal he saw as being about 70 feet long, and its circumference about that of a sugar hogshead, moving with its head
(shaped like an Alligator’s) about 8 feet out of the water.
If you have information about the sea creature in Georgia, get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.