What is that ‘ice monster’ in Alaska’s Chena River? The Bureau of Land Management posted video on Facebook last week of what it later described as an “ice monster” swimming against the current in Alaska’s Chena River, prompting all sorts of speculation on its identity.
Over the weekend, some U.K. publications likened it to the Loch Ness monster, the Irish Mirror blaring in a headline: “Has the Loch Ness monster moved to Alaska?”
Craig McCaa of the BLM Fairbanks District Office captured the footage from the University Avenue bridge. He told the Alaska Dispatch News that it was a “strange thing” moving back and forth in the current of the river.
“It never fully revealed itself,” he told ADN.
“I don’t know what I would have done if I had come by in a canoe or something. But looking from it above on the University Avenue bridge I didn’t feel too threatened.”
Some people on Facebook questioned the validity of the video, but the BLM assured it was not a hoax.
Several people thought it could be a huge sturgeon. Other guesses included a huge eel, a beaver dragging something, a new aquatic breed, a giant ice worm, a salmon shark, a Greenland shark, a zombie salmon, and an Alaskan Anaconda.
Some obviously were joking.
“I initially thought, and several people thought, it could be some rope that snagged on the bottom of the river with chunks of ice,” McCaa told ADN. “Other people have mentioned everything from sea monster to giant sturgeon.”
In an ADN update, a biologist from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game made what seems to be the only logical explanation, one that expands on McCaa’s initial thought.
Klaus Wuttig told ADN it was probably a rope stuck to the bridge pier. He explained that cold nighttime temperatures allowed frazil ice to stick to the rope, causing it to float to the surface. Frazil ice is loose, slushy ice that forms in the water.
“It looks like it’s swimming, but it’s actually stationary and just wading in the current,” Wuttig said.
Wuttig also put to rest speculation that it was a sturgeon, saying no giant sturgeons have ever been spotted in the Chena River.