Jewish Journal

Monster terror grips Long Island

by Adam Wills

July 31, 2008 | 8:46 pm

Jenna Hewitt's photo of the Montauk Monster

Gawker published photos on Tuesday of what’s being dubbed the Monster of Montauk—or the Montauk Monster—under the headline: “Dead Monster Washes Ashore in Montauk.”

Three friends walking along the beach apparently stumbled onto the creature, which some have described as a turtle that lost its shell or a raccoon.

GeekHeeb hoped to talk with Rachel Goldberg, whose camera is said to have been used by Jenna Hewitt to take the photo on July 13. Instead, Courtney Fruin, one of the three friends who said they found the monster, took the call.

“We think it’s a mutant from Plum Island,” she said, referring to a USDA animal disease research center. “It had a beak, and it looked like a reptile in a dog’s body.”

Fruin said Hewitt took a couple shots with Goldberg’s camera, and then they just “dismissed it and walked away.” She said the photo was sent to their local newspaper, The Independent (“The Hound of Bonacville,” page 10), which Fruin supposes is how Gawker got the image.

According to New York magazine:

The photo had come over e-mail to Anna Holmes, the managing editor at Jezebel, from an employee at Evolutionary Media Group, in Los Angeles; Holmes passed it on to Gawker. Because it came from a marketing company, Gawker surmised, “our guess is that it’s viral marketing for something.” They later pointed to a Cartoon Network show, Cryptids Are Real, which features similar-looking chubby monsters. We called Evolutionary, where a woman named Alanna Navitski, who claimed to be responsible for the tip, swore it was not a viral-marketing campaign. “This is what happened,” she said.

“I got this e-mail and opened it from my girlfriend who works at Harris Publications, which has nothing to do with anything. Anyway, my girlfriend’s sister was there with her friends and one of them took the picture. And we were like, ‘This is the scariest shit we’ve ever seen.’ And so — I’m in marketing — we were like, ‘Maybe we should send it to a few blogs and see if anyone else is as freaked out as we are.’ We had no idea that it would turn into this. Now it’s literally a beast of its own. But it has nothing to do with any kind of campaign.”

In fact, this turned out to be true. A number of eyewitnesses say they saw the monster with their own eyes. “I saw the monster,” says Michael Meehan, a 22-year-old waiter at the Surfside Inn, which sits above the beach where the monster washed up. “I just came walking down the beach and everyone was looking at it. No one knew what it was. It kind of looked like a dog, but it had this crazy-looking beak. I mean, I would freak out if something like that popped up next to me in the water.”

While Fox News wasn’t able to find the carcass, GeekHeeb got some answers:

“A friend has the carcass,” Fruin said.

She wouldn’t give up the friend’s name or his phone number, but Fruin says he’s waiting to hand the monster over to the proper authorities for an autopsy.

The assumption would be that the “proper authorities” would not include the Plum Island Animal Disease Center. Dr. Larry Barrett, the center’s director, has denied the mutant abomination originated from its facility:

“It is impossible to accurately identify the species of animal from the photo. There is no scale from which to judge its size. Additionally, when a body has had prolonged exposure to water and predators, it can be altered or appear different from its normal form. If we had the actual body, we could tell you what it is; however, from viewing a canine tooth in the picture, we could guess it may be a cat or raccoon. I can state categorically that it is not associated with the work performed at Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC). PIADC serves as the nation’s first line of defense against foreign animal diseases of livestock by identifying such diseases through diagnostic testing and by developing vaccines to protect livestock from those diseases.” (Associated Content)

So is this the real deal or just some Photoshop scam?

The Jewish Journal’s own resident Photoshop experts are divided. One says the shadow cast from the head looks wrong when compared with the other shadows and mentioned that the sand around the neck would make it easy to fake the photo. The other said the shadows looked to be about right, depending on where the light source was.

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