China’s ‘Loch Ness monster’ is actually a lot of hot air(bag)

China doesn’t have its own version of the Loch Ness Monster after all, it seems.

The long, dark, serpent-like shape seen in the Yangtse River, dubbed the “Three Gorges Water Monster”, which some thought was a strange creature from the deep or a massive snake, has been revealed as a large piece of rubber, possibly an industrial airbag.

Video of workers removing a 20-metre large black canvas tube, believed to have floated down from a shipyard upstream, has appeared online following a search of part of the river.

China had been captivated by the grainy footage released last week showing what appeared to be a long, black sea creature slithering among the waves near the Three Gorges Dam in Hubei province, in the country’s South East.

Many backed the theory that it was a Burmese python, one of the largest species of snake, which are found in parts of southern China and are excellent swimmers.

A video and discussion thread about it went viral on Chinese social media, being viewed more than 32 million times on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, since it emerged on Friday, the Guardian reported.

People speculated that the mystery creature was huge, as only a small part of its back was visible, and, like an iceberg, most of it was beneath the surface.

The sighting at a reservoir by the Three Gorges Dam led to speculation that China had its own Loch Ness Monster.

A university professor said it might well be a giant water snake.

Despite the lack of firm evidence, the video was covered by most major Chinese media, including the party paper Beijing Youth Daily and state broadcasters CCTV and China Daily.

The river, the longest in Asia and third-longest in the world, is home to a number of endemic and endangered species, such as the Chinese alligator, the Yangtze finless porpoise and the now-extinct Yangtze river dolphin.

The Three Gorges Dam, which spans it by the town of Sandouping in Yichang’s Yiling District, is the world’s largest hydro-electric power station.

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