Yesterday, Gawker ran what appeared to be a photo of a bloated, leathery animal corpse — only it was like no animal anyone had seen before. A stout, hairless creature with a beak, claws, and the almond-shaped eyes familiar from renderings of space aliens, it looked, in short, like a monster. Hence the headline: "Dead Monster Washes Ashore in Montauk." 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."
So did anyone there, you know, do anything about it?
"This woman kept calling animal control," said Meehan. "She wanted to name it after herself. I think they came and got it. The carcass. Whatever it was."
But did they? The East Hampton branch of animal control referred Daily Intel to a supervisor who did not return calls for comment. And Navitski, of Evolutionary Media Group, says her friend's sister (who doesn't want to talk to the press, though Plum TV will host another woman, Jenna Hewitt, who claims she took a photo, tomorrow) says animal control never came. "They say an old guy came and carted it away," she said. "He said, 'I'm going to mount it on my wall.'"
Related: East Hampton Bureaucrats Deny Montauk Monster Is Beast From Hell [NYM]
Montauk Monster Mania [NYM]
A Portrait of the Monster as a Young Man [NYM]
What Today's Monster News Tells Us About New Yorkers [NYM]