LOOK: Wildlife Experts Finally Identify Mystery Creature That ‘Looked Like a Lord of the Rings Orc’

by Amy Myers

Late last month, a woman visiting the Red Sea came across a strange and terrifying creature on the rocky shores. The bizarre, deceased animal had dry, gray skin, rows of sharp teeth and a twisted body exposing part of its spine. And for a while, no one could figure out what it was. Now, though, wildlife experts have identified the subject to be a dead moray eel.

The photographer behind the encapsulating image was a tourist name Andrea Jud who was camping on the coast of Dahab, Egypt with a few friends. While walking along a beach at Gabr el-Bint on the Sinai Peninsula, Jud came across the limbless wildlife 40 feet from the water.

“I didn’t touch it. Just looking at it made me feel uneasy…It looked like a Lord of the Rings orc,” the wildlife watcher told the Daily Mail. “There was an opening further back on the head where one would suspect the ears, but it might have been the gills. My initial impression was that it was a being who suffered a rather horrible death. I couldn’t figure out what kind of creature it was.”

After snapping a photo, Jud posted it to a Facebook group that identifies marine animals.

“Found at the Red Sea, as big as my arm. Sorry for the gruesome content,” she captioned the post.

Check out the photo here. But be warned, it looks like something out of a nightmare.

How Wildlife Experts Identified the Creature as a Moray Eel

The guesses from fellow marine life enthusiasts ranged from creative to fantastical. Some of the most out-of-this-world theories for this wildlife included “baby loch ness monster,” “Voldemort” and a “Fiji mermaid.”

Another person guessed, “Dried out Demagorgon,” referring to the monster from Stranger Things.

Others couldn’t get over how nightmarish the creature seemed, even suggesting that it looked “almost human” from its teeth and basic face shape.

Most of the commentors, however, were already on the right track, guessing a moray eel from the shape of its snout and jaw. National Aquarium Director of Dive Programs and wildlife expert Holly Bourbon confirmed this line of thought, estimating that if it’s not a moray eel then it’s likely a viper eel which is native to the Red Sea as well as the Pacific Ocean in and around Hawaii.

These marine creatures can grow to a max of 13.5 inches in size and, like regular morays, hang out in the crevices of coral reefs. Despite their nightmarish appearance, they are harmless to humans. They’ve even become a popular part of aquarium wildlife.

This eel, in particular, seemed to have passed from the extent of his injuries on his spine. While it may have resembled some of the most frightening creatures we’ve seen on TV, its death still warrants a bit of sympathy.