A mythical sea creature might have bestowed its majesty on London. Alternatively, some marine mammals might be trapped in the city’s Thames River—again.
While crossing the Thames in a cable car last month, a YouTube user recorded footage of a moving shape in the river. The object surfaced to reveal two dark gray bumps, before retreating underwater.
Marine mammals have appeared in the Thames in increasing numbers in recent years, often dead. But this most recent sighting, which looks conspicuously like a whale or two dolphins, has lead internet commenters to speculate that the video shows a mysterious Loch Ness-style river monster.
“This was on the cable car in Greenwich yesterday,” YouTuber Penn Plate wrote in the description to his video, “something huge was moving under the water and then briefly surfaced. Are there whales in the Thames?? Or is it some weird submarine.”
Some of his audience was less skeptical.
“[T]he lochness monster has moved to england,” one commenter wrote.
In order for the Loch Ness Monster to move to London, it would have to swim northeast to the top of Loch Ness, 12 miles through the relatively small River Ness, through the Beauly and Moray Firths, into the North Sea, down the length of Great Britain, and many miles along the Thames. The trip—almost 600 miles by land, and considerably longer by sea—would move the Loch Ness Monster between freshwater and saltwater bodies, a dangerous environmental change that would also likely see the Loch Ness Monster run aground in some shallow inlets.
The Loch Ness Monster would also have to be real.
Common marine mammals are a more likely explanation for Penn Plate’s YouTube video. London’s Thames River has been the watery grave for a number of whales in the past decade, after the animals become trapped in the narrow waterway.
In 2006, the city made headlines for a three-day whale rescue attempt. The 16-foot juvenile bottlenose whale became stuck in the Thames, gathering cuts and bruises from the river bottom and passing boats before rescuers managed to lift her from the water.
Penn Plate’s video might also depict no animals at all. The Loch Ness Monster is part of rich tradition of hoax photos and videos—and some viewers suspect this latest video to be another prank.
Penn Plate has only uploaded two YouTube videos, both on the same day. His profile displays no photograph, no email, and no identifying information other than his username, which does not appear to match any other social media handles. Penn has, however, licensed the video to Newsflare, an online video company that purchases rights to photos and videos, and sells them to news organizations. The videos’ original owners get a cut of the profits.
Penn Plate’s original video has racked up well over one million views. Its content, however, is questionable. The 30-second video only shows the mysterious object for a second. The footage is shaky, filmed vertically from a cell phone, leading some commenters to question its authenticity.
“Look something awesome and spooky,” one wrote. “Better shake the camera as much as I can.”