After releasing scary photographs that some equated to something out of War of the Worlds, a guy accidentally provoked fear.
Jan Vorster of Still Bay, Western Cape, South Africa, snapped a photo on the beach and posted it on Facebook in the hopes of raising awareness about environmental issues.
Nevertheless, after being posted by another page that labelled the forms as “sea spiders,” his photographs ended up causing confusion and terror.
The post received 22,000 comments and 52,000 shares.
“They look like something from Battle of the Worlds with Tom Cruise,” one reader wrote.
“Omg,” another individual commented. I wouldn’t even try to remain and figure things out.
I’d take off like a shot.”
Although it appears that the majority of comments on the eerie photographs are done in jest, Jan said he has received messages from anxious travelers who are concerned that the beach is hazardous.
Several users even forwarded the photographs to an environmental specialist, who determined that the approaching forms posed no harm to humans.
That’s because the spidery forms aren’t aliens at all, but rather dead aloe vera plants.
“I thought I could use this as a metaphor for how people regard these plants as aliens, yet we are actually the two-legged invaders mucking up their planet. That was the plan, according to the 62-year-old.
“The remarks began almost instantly. Then it was spread like there was no tomorrow.
“I was taken aback [by the reaction]. I expected people to have fun with it, but it turned out to be really serious, and some of it was extremely serious.
“Many people were terrified of these strange-looking sea creatures. Is it safe to go into the sea, as in Jaws?
“People were asking me when they [the creatures] would appear, and if they only appeared at night.”
Jan, a father of one, is unfazed by the unexpected response to his unique photography and is eager to continue working on similar projects.
“‘Please assist us, since this is not a plant,’ they continued pleading. This can’t be a plant,’ he reasoned.
“[Some individuals said] I deceived them and should be executed for it. Yet, many people had a great time.
“I discovered a lot about social networking. It’s simply a photograph; I didn’t anticipate this to happen or such a strong reaction.”