Example: [Collected via e-mail, January 2014]
Origins: On 9 January 2014, the Lightly Braised Turnip web site published an article (complete with photo) positing that a gigantic mutant squid grown to the size of 160 feet due to radioactivity had been discovered on the California coast near Santa Monica:
These giants look different but experts believe they share one important commonality: they both come from the waters near the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant in the Futaba District of Japan.
Scientists believe that following the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant an unknown number of sea creatures suffered genetic mutations that triggered uncontrolled growth — or "radioactive gigantism."
Unfortunately, this cadre of mutant giants seems to be drifting towards the continental U.S. Local officials in Santa Monica, CA — where the creature drifted ashore — tried to calm residents.
By later that day, links and excerpts referencing this article were being circulated via social media, with many of those who encountered the item mistaking it for a genuine news article. However, that article was just a bit of fictional humor (a follow-up to an earlier fictional item about a giant oarfish supposedly discovered off the California coast) spoofing recent alarmist reports about dangerous radioactivity reaching the U.S. from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. The photo was a fabrication that melded a picture depicting a dead whale found in Chile back in 2011 with a picture of a giant squid that washed up on a Spanish beach in 2013:
The Santa Monica area of California is just outside our home base here at snopes.com, and a quick drive along the coastline provided no view of a gigantic squid on the beach, nor did any of the many local news outlets cover any such topic. Disappointed, we headed elsewhere for our calamari lunch.
Last updated: 9 January 2014