The Indonesian military sounded the alarm this week that a very large sea creature had washed up on a beach in the country’s Maluku islands. A video and news report posted to the official army website and social media channels show soldiers next to the monster, describing it as a 15-meter long squid-like thing. Worse, the creature appears to have long, curved, bone-like tusks protruding from its slimy carcass.
The whole thing is quite disconcerting, until you realize that there are known sea creatures that come in similarly large sizes and occasionally die and wash up on beaches — you know, like whales, although they look quite different after several days of decomposition in the harsh conditions out at sea. Flesh deteriorates and peels away as scavengers from the microbial to the enormous have their fill of this all-you-can-eat buffet. Eventually bone gets exposed, making an otherwise run-of-the-mill whale look like a live action sea horror film.
Where the army failed, YouTuber Patasiwa Kumbang Amalatu comes through. In a series of videos, he puts together a fairly bulletproof case that the creature is a whale, probably humpback, and those “tusks” are just jaw bones minus flesh.
But who doesn’t love a good ol’ sea monster yarn. One local news source claimed on Wednesday that it’s too early to say if the creature is an enormous squid or a highly mangled whale. Except — squid are invertebrates and this beast quite obviously has a spine.
So either it’s a whale or it’s something that has never been seen before, completely foreign to known animal classification systems. Technically no one has yet proven it’s not an alien from outer space.