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What’s behind the creepy photos that sparked panic in South Africa

The image that caused panic (Kennedy News)
The image that caused panic (Kennedy News)

A South African photographer caused hysteria on social networks after posting some photos that sought to raise awareness about the degradation of the environment, but that many users confused the protagonists of the images with aliens emerging from the sea

The images were taken by Jan Vorstera 62-year-old farmer, in his hometown of Still Bay, in the state of Western Cape. When he shared them in a group of Facebook, sparked all kinds of reactions, as reported by the South African media Kennedy News.

“I was surprised,” Vorster said. “A lot of people were scared of these alien-looking sea monsters. It was like ‘Jaws’: Is it safe to go in the water?.

“People kept asking me when they were going out [las criaturas] and if they only came out at night,” explained Vorster, who also recreated the hair-raising performance in a nearby river.

The objects portrayed are nothing more than dead aloe vera plants (Kennedy News)
The objects portrayed are nothing more than dead aloe vera plants (Kennedy News)

Far from being extraterrestrial creatures, the objects portrayed are nothing more than dead plants of aloe veraa perennial succulent prized for its healing properties.

Vorster lined them up on the beach at dawn in a way that evoked monsters with tentacles invading the shore. She later posted the photos on Facebook to raise awareness about the environmental degradation.

“I thought I could use it as a metaphor for how people see these plants as alien, but it’s really us two-legged aliens messing up their world,” Vorster said. “That was the idea”.

However, Vorster’s green photo was taken verbatim by some users.

“Please go back to the ocean,” one wrote, while another commented: “Is this for real? My goodness… how scary”.

“I have never seen them in all the years I have lived on the coast,” said another. “Maybe they’re only in Cape waters.”

(Kennedy News)
(Kennedy News)

They look like aliens from War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise,” added one commenter, referring to the invaders from the sci-fi movie Steven Spielberg from 2005.

In an attempt to allay the panic, the photographer tried to explain that it was not an alien.

However, it drew the ire of his critics, who claimed that he had “cheated”Vorster said.

Aloe vera is a perennial succulent prized for its healing properties.  (Jan Sochor/Getty Images)
Aloe vera is a perennial succulent prized for its healing properties. (Jan Sochor/Getty Images)

“People were googling aloe ferox [nombre científico] and I was not able to add two plus two”, he lamented. “They kept saying, ‘Please help us, because this is not a plant. This can’t be a plant’”.

Worried internet users even sent Vorster’s photos to an environmental scientist, who confirmed that the figures were not dangerous to humans.

Despite the backlash, the farmer hopes to create similar environmental PSAs in the future. “I have learned a lot, and I am very motivated to continue with Aloe feroxes and continue to focus on issues related to nature,” he declared.

Keep reading:

Sea monster: they find a fossil skull of what would be the first giant animal on Earth
The secret of the ancient sea monsters to rule the oceans 200 million years ago

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