A an article showing of a giant squid with “radioactive gigantism” washed up on the coast of Santa Monica is a fake, but thousands of people shared and “liked” it on Facebook.
The article, titled “Second Giant Sea Creature Washes Ashore Along Santa Monica Coastline,” is from website The Lightly Braised Turnip, which appears to only publish satire articles.
The main photo–which shows the squid on the shore while people are gathered around–is Photoshopped.
The squid, which measures 30 feet long, was actually discovered on the shore at La Arena beach in Cantabria, Spain in October 2013. A photo of that squid was taken and was Photoshopped into the Lightly Braised Turnip satire.
“Scientists believe that following the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant an unknown number of sea creatures suffered genetic mutations that triggered uncontrolled growth – or ‘radioactive gigantism,’” the fake article reads.
The Lightly Braised Turnip appears to be a satire news site in the vein of The Onion, but it has no disclaimer identifying it as such.
The website has published outlandish articles including “Serena Williams Swings For Fences By Playing Iron Mike In New Biopic,” which obviously isn’t real, and “Bud Selig: Red Sox Fans Most Annoying Fans Anywhere.”
It’s also worth pointing out that no national or local media outlets have reported on the giant squid.
Santa Monica Parks Manager Cynthia Beard and Santa Marino College biology professor Martin L. Grimm, who are quoted in the article, do not exist.
But on Twitter, a large number of people tweeted the fake story and commented on it.
Wrote another: “Australian heat wave killing 100k bats, giant squid and two headed whale washed up in Cali. What’s next for 2014?”
Some conspiracy-oriented websites also re-posted the article or reported on it as if it were real.
The largest species of giant squid can get to be around 43 feet in length.