‘Aliens’ crawling on coast spark panic online: ‘Is it safe to go into the water?’
There’s some thing in the water.
A South African man sparked hysteria among the online masses after they mistook his creepy pictures of dead plants for aliens emerging from the sea. His photos were shared to a South African Facebook group, where they’re currently scaring up hilarious responses, Kennedy News has reported.
“I was surprised [by the reaction],” Jan Vorster told Kennedy News of the extraterrestrial-seeming pics, which were snapped in his hometown of Still Bay, Western Cape. “I thought that people would have fun with it, but then it was very serious, some of it was extremely serious.”
He added, “A lot of people were scared of these alien-looking sea monsters. It was like ‘Jaws’ — is it safe to go into the water?”
The 62-year-old farm worker had taken pics of dead aloe vera plants — an evergreen succulent prized for its healing properties — that he’d lined up on the beach at sunrise, so that they evoked tentacled monsters invading the shore. He then posted the otherworldly pics to Facebook in an effort to raise awareness about environmental degradation.
“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,” Vorster described. “That was the idea.”
Unfortunately, Vorster’s eco-conscious photo op was taken literally after users thought that the expired desert flora were actually aliens making an intergalactic beachhead — reminiscent of Orson Welles’ hysteria-stirring “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast in 1938.
“Just wanted to cancel my vacation,” exclaimed one aghast viewer of the unorthodox eco-PSA. “Because of things like this, I don’t swim. I’m already scared of a shark.”
“Please go back into the ocean,” pleaded another, while one petrified commenter wrote, “Are you serious? Holy moly… scary.”
“Never seen those before in all the years living on the coast,” declared another. “Maybe they’re only in Cape waters.”
“They look like some alien thing from War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise,” exclaimed one commenter, referencing the lanky invaders in Steven Spielberg’s 2005 sci-fi remake.
“People kept asking me when they [the creatures] were coming out, and if they were only coming out at night,” explained Vorster, who also re-created the eerie performance piece at a nearby river.
In an attempt to dispel panic, the bewildered eco-warrior tried to explain that this was no SeaT.
However, his aloe vera-fication only made things worse as critics claimed he’d “misled them” and “should be crucified,” Vorster claimed.
“People Googled the aloe ferox [scientific name] and couldn’t put two and two together,” he lamented. “They kept saying, ‘Please help us, because this is not a plant. This can’t be a plant.’ “
Some online worrywarts even sent Vorster’s photos to an environmental scientist, who confirmed that the figures weren’t dangerous to humans.
Despite the backlash, the undaunted farmer hopes to create similar environmental PSAs in the future. “I’ve learned a lot, and I’m very motivated to continue with Aloe feroxes and keep focusing on nature-related issues,” Vorster declared.
This isn’t the first time a beached object has been mistaken for a monster.
Earlier this month, a baffled British beachcomber experienced vex on the beach after sharing pics of a bizarre beast they found washed ashore — with many viewers comparing it to the legendary Loch Ness monster.