Back in November 2012 I went on a road trip from San Diego to Chicago. At one point I spent a full day in Memphis and while there took a ton of photos. I was taking some photos of the Mississippi river when I saw this green pipe thing sticking out of the water.
I realized that from far away it sort of looked like a sea creature and thought it might be fun to create a photo that made it unidentifiable enough to be mistaken for a creature. I turned the manual focus on so I could make it a bit blurry and took a wide-angle shot. When I got home from my trip, I zoomed in on the pipe to give it a bit of a pixelated look and switched the photo into black and white.
I promptly uploaded my “sea creature” photo to Facebook and Flickr and posted it in the Chicago Skeptics group so I could brag to my skeptic friends about seeing a sea creature on my trip. I dubbed the creature “Missie.”
Just to be clear, this was just a joke. I thought it would be funny to create a photo that looked a bit like the classic blurry sea creature photos of the Lochness Monster. Although I uploaded it publicly to Flickr, I did not put any type of warning on it to let people know it was fake because I assumed that was obvious. I mean, it should be obvious that it’s fake, right?
Recently I’ve been using the service Pixsy which does an image search for all my Flickr photos and lets me know when there are matches so I can easily find people who are stealing my photos on the internet. This week I was looking at some of my Pixsy matches and noticed that my Missie photo was being used on the Cryptozoology website Frontiers of Zoology, a blog by self-described cryptozoology researcher Dale Drinnon. He’s got lots of in-depth reporting on his website, such as this excellent investigation entitled Bigfoot Boob Bounce.
Drinnon posted my Missie photo along with the following description:
“Missi”, the Mississippi River Monster, at the level of Tennessee, from Flickr (During WWII reports referred to “Submarines” with “Periscopes”. “Missi” is the proper regular name for the creature anywhere along the lenth of the River, and several reports at New Orleans state it is the same creature seen there as at the River’s source)
[NB, I have no confidence in this photo as representing the Mississippi River Serpent, unfortunately]
What? Drinnon does not have a lot of confidence that my obviously fake photo is not a photo of the actual Mississippi River Serpent? I’m am so disappointed in you, Drinnon. What tipped you off? The photo has also now been posted on other cryptozoology websites, using Drinnon’s page as a source.
So, this is how I unwittingly created a hoax sea monster. I never set out to create a hoax. It just never occurred to me that anyone would take it seriously. No one tell him about my bigfoot photo.