You might think people never saw a dead whale before!

It’s big, blubbery and looks like a whale. But let’s all panic and call it “mysterious” and a “monster”, shall we?

At first, the mass that washed up on the Indonesian island of Seram in Maluku was called a “giant squid”. But it looked nothing like a squid. It had bones and no tentacles or arms. Squid do not have bones. But it was 15 meters long. The residents just called it a giant squid and the media reported that without any basic checking. Even the pictures made a general ID fairly easy for people who know a bit about ocean life. The Jakarta post later revised the story to confirm it was indeed a baleen whale.

The story reflects the current news culture that is intent on reporting sensational stories before even basic fact checking is done. Gizmodo even did something dumber and linked it to End Times in their headline “Giant Sea Monster Washes On Shore Because World Is Ending” – nice job promoting garbage. We have hundreds of such stories documented on DN.

I suspect people wish to be special and have made a discovery that gets attention. Or, they don’t want to know the truth and prefer the dramatic fiction. This gets us nothing but trouble. According to whale biologist Alexander Werth, there is nothing that large left unknown in the ocean. As with land animals, the big ones have a hard time hiding from us. There are no giant unknown birds, reptiles, or hominids (Bigfoot) roaming around human habitation. And there are no mysterious contemporary remains found that suggest they are out there. Everything dies. Often, we notice. If only people knew just a little bit about nature…

This LiveScience article does a good job of reporting on the event.

Addition: NY Times piece from 14-May.

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