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Oh, that picture...!

This is one of the Golden Oldies of Anomalydom (if that's not a word, it is now!) Taken in 1964, I remember seeing it in countless books without much story attached to it. So here's the story - it's a hoax. Good thing I'm here, huh?

This picture was taken by Robert Le Serrec off the coast of Queensland, Australia. His story was that he was on vacation with his family and a family friend at Stonehaven Bay when his wife saw this sea serpent Thingie laying on the bottom. Robert circled around taking photos, and in doing so they noticed a long gash on the side of the serpent. Deciding the creature was injured and possibly dying, Robert didn't want to risk the thing getting aggrivated, raising up and smashing the boat so they went back to shore to drop the wife and kids off. The men then returned with underwater cameras and an underwater rifle to get a closer look. Nice to have those handy. On entering the water they cautiously swam within 20 feet of the creature. They estimated it to be 75-80 feet long with brown stripes alternating down it's black body. Two large, pale green eyes were placed on top of the head which was "snake-like". As Robert started filming, the Thing opened and closed it's jaws in a "menacing manner" and they decided to get the hell out of there. Back on the boat, they saw the beast was gone. Robert's wife, watching from shore, said it had turned around and swam out to sea "horizontally", as an eel would.

Robert went public with his story and as is usual some believed it but most didn't. Noted cyptozoologists Ivan T. Sanderson and Bernard Heuvelmans thought the story sounded fishy (pun intended). The movies that were taken were so blurred as to be useless. They thought it was a little too convenient they children were taken back to shore, thus eliminating the people who would most likely tattle about it being a hoax. And if Robert was worried the critter would attack them from the boat, why go poke at the thing up close and personal to film it?

Well, It turned out Le Surrec was wanted by Interpol for leaving France in 1960 with a lien on his yacht and for stealing funds put up by sailing companions. He had told them he had an idea on how to make a lot of money and it had to do with a "sea serpent".

When Le Serrec finally went back to France in 1966, he got 6 months in jail. His photo was published in Paris Match magazine who misquoted Ivan T. Sanderson and another expert as saying the photograph was real. The magazine never printed a retraction, but a rival magazine exposed it as the hoax it was.

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