A bizarre photo of what appears to be alien-like creatures at the beach went viral online recently, sparking virtual hysteria. Fortunately, the photographer, a South African man simply looking to raise awareness about human impact on the natural environment, assured us that what we see in the photos are actually just dead plants.
Images show what appear to be octopus- or squid-like creatures with spikey tentacles on the beach at sunrise. However, unlike normal tentacled creatures, the strange creatures in the photos stand up, balanced on the ends of their extremities.
Fortunately, the New York Post states that these unusual images are not an indication of an impending alien invasion. Instead, they’re just photos of dead aloe vera plants on the shoreline of a Still Bay beach in Western Cape.
Reflecting on the online hysteria after his unusual photos went viral, the photographer, Jan Vorster, said, “I was surprised [by the reaction]. I thought that people would have fun with it, but then it was very serious, some of [the comments were] extremely serious.”
Vorster explained of his beach photos, “A lot of people were scared of these alien-looking sea monsters. It was like Jaws — is it safe to go in the water?”
In fact, comments like these actually began appearing online not long after Vorsters’s environmental PSA went viral. One viewer said, “Just wanted to cancel my vacation. Because of things like this, I don’t swim. I’m already scared of a shark.”
As stated, these are actually just photos of dead aloe vera plants—which the outlet states are a species of vegetation known for its healing properties. However, in the photos, they have been turned on their heads. Vorster said the photos were initially intended to raise awareness about environmental degradation.
Environmentalist Receives Backlash for Sharing Strange Beach Photos Online
Now we know that Vorster actually had positive intentions in sharing his collection of unusual photos. Still some people began to rip him on social media, stating he’d misled people with his take on environmental PSAs.
Reflecting on the online hysteria, the South African man mourned, “I thought I could use this as a metaphor for how people see these plants as aliens, but we are actually the two-legged aliens messing up their world. That was the idea,” he explained.
Instead, after capturing another set of similar photos at a nearby river, he admitted, “People kept asking me when they [the creatures] were coming out, and if they were only coming out at night.”
Panic and repulsion toward the photos became so strong that some viewers even brought the photos to an environmental scientist who further assured the online community that these seemingly alien-like creatures at the beach really are just plants.
Afterward, Vorster said he was attacked online. Handfuls of viewers said he’d misled them with his PSA about environmental degradation while others demanded him to be “crucified.”
Nevertheless, the undaunted photographer and environmentalist intends to continue pushing for greater environmental awareness. In fact, he plans to engage in further performance pieces like this in the future in order to help effect change.