Rumors have been circulating that a race of malevolent beings with long limbs is secretly working to depopulate the ocean. According to a meme that was shared widely on Fishbook, these creatures possess powerful technology that enables them to capture victims from above and pull them right out of the water.
Our expert fact-checkers have reviewed this claim, and they have found no evidence that a species of intelligent beings lives above water, or that “above water” even exists.
“We’ve been seeing more and more fish get hooked on these conspiracy theories,” says Chris Cod, a professor at The McGill School of Fish. “It’s important to combat these theories with real science so that misinformation bubbles don’t spread.”
When touting their ideas, conspiracy theorists sometimes point to the large number of family members that have gone missing, or to eye-witness accounts of fish seen floating upward, as if controlled by an unseen force. But scientists say there is a very plausible explanation for these phenomena. According to Dr. Richard Bass, who has studied the ocean for over fifteen years, there are special currents that flow vertically, and some of these currents could be strong enough to envelop a fish and pull it up to an area of the sea where it’s difficult to locate. “Many fish get lost if they go too far up,” says Bass. “But that doesn’t mean they’re leaving the water or getting transported to some mystical ‘dry land’ where they’re chopped to pieces and devoured by walking-talking giants. Those stories are pure make-believe.”
Another conspiracy theory suggests that the giant monsters are dumping toxic waste into the water and that this waste is causing a wide range of health problems to fish, including difficulty breathing. Our experts have also debunked this claim. While a variety of strange, unidentified objects have been found in the water, there is no evidence that these objects came from outside the ocean, or that they pose serious health risks to fish. Researchers at the Finnish Institute tested some of the objects on random goldfish and concluded they were safe to play with. Aside from a few seazures, adverse reactions were generally mild, and most participants in the trial recovered fully after several days.
The myth of toxic waste can be traced back to Dr. Steven Eel, who is known for promoting slippery pseudoscience.
A race of non-sea-dwelling creatures does not exist. Theories of life above water have been widely discredited and rejected by leading fishicists from top schools.
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Noel Spangler is a writer, editor and visual storyteller based in New York City. He earned his M.F.A. in creative writing from the New School, and has published humor in Points in Case, Robot Butt, Funny-ish and others.