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The Ningen: Monster of the Antarctic

Darcie is a graduate student who spends her free time writing and learning everything she can about cryptozoology, aliens, and the unusual.

An artist's interpretation of the Ningen.

An artist's interpretation of the Ningen.

Since the early 2000s, stories have circulated of a creature supposedly sighted by Japanese researchers in the Antarctic. Since these initial reports, interest in this mysterious creature has grown, fueled online by alleged photographs and video footage. The creature has been named the Ningen, a Japanese term meaning “human being.”

The First Sighting

It’s unclear when the Ningen was first sighted, but the most popular version of it appears to originate with a post on a 2chan thread. The poster claimed to be an employee on a government whale research vessel. They related the story of encountering the mysterious creature, including how the crew of the vessel initially assumed it was a foreign submarine. However, as the unknown large object moved closer, the crew realized that it was alive.

The 2chan thread gained a lot of popularity, which only increased when MU, a Japanese magazine focusing on the paranormal, featured an article on the Ningen in a 2007 issue. MU’s article is noteworthy not only for increasing interest in the Ningen within Japan, but also because it contained a Google Maps image supposedly of the creature.

After the article was published, online popularity of the Ningen also greatly increased, and numerous photos and videos alleging to show the creature began surfacing. Some footage of the Ningen can be traced back to at least 2006, which would suggest it possibly predates the height of the creature’s popularity.

The photo published in "MU."

The photo published in "MU."

Appearance

Based on the reports of alleged eyewitnesses, the Ningen is estimated to be about 20 to 30 meters long. It is entirely white in color and roughly human-shaped. Reports differ on whether it has arms and legs, five-fingered hands, or even fins, a mermaid-esque tail, or tentacles. Eyewitnesses do seem to agree that the Ningen has no distinctive facial features to speak of, though it does have a mouth and eyes. An article on Gaia.com specifically describes the creature as having “a small slitted mouth and two vacuous eyes.”

A supposed image of the Ningen.

A supposed image of the Ningen.

The Conspiracy

There is no solid evidence that proves the existence of the Ningen. However, as it is in most cases of a possibly unidentified creature without substantiation, this hasn’t stopped rampant speculation on the Internet.

One popular rumor that has been spread in reference to the Ningen is that the Japanese government has in fact taken reports of the creature seriously but has covered up all the real evidence. Why would the Japanese government do that? One theory is that the Ningen, whatever it actually is, is capable of producing a rare chemical compound that has medicinal properties. Another is that it is highly venomous, and the government intends to weaponize the creature.

Where Are the Photos?

Some have gone even further with this conspiracy theory, suggesting that the numerous low-quality photos and videos are actually a disinformation campaign by the government in an attempt to discredit the actual evidence of the Ningen’s existence. However, the lack of high-quality photographs has also been explained away by the fact that sightings apparently happen most frequently at night, making it more difficult for an unexpected sighting to be documented.

Could It Be an Alien?

Rumors have also been spread of eyewitnesses being visited by men in black. These are, of course, unconfirmed (because the men in black wouldn’t be particularly good at their job if there was solid evidence of their visits), and it’s unclear if this is meant to suggest the Ningen is of alien origin.

A supposed sighting of a Ningen.

A supposed sighting of a Ningen.

Explanations

Due to the alleged location of the Ningen, it hasn’t been feasible for cryptozoologists to study the creature and investigate sightings. Because of this, all the information about the Ningen comes from eyewitness accounts and the often low-quality photographic and video evidence.

Based on the available evidence, some have speculated that the Ningen might not be a living creature at all, as many existing still images of the creature tend to look more like blocks of ice. For those that think it is alive, the Ningen has been suggested to be a giant albino ray, an albino whale, or a beluga. Some explanations have gone as far to suggest that it might be an aquatic sloth, or even a mermaid, alien, or some previously unknown aquatic humanoid species.

For those who don’t believe the Ningen exists at all, it has been suggested that the stories of the creature are merely the modern-day incarnation of old sea monster tales.

An illustration of a Ningyo.

An illustration of a Ningyo.

The Ningyo

In some circles, a link has been drawn between stories of the Ningen and the Ningyo, a creature from Japanese folklore.

Ningyo is a term meaning “human fish,” though it is often translated as “mermaid.” This fish-like creature is described as having a monkey’s mouth, small, fish-like teeth, golden scales, and a quiet, flute-like voice. It tastes delicious, and eating it will greatly add to a person’s lifespan. However, catching one was said to bring storms and misfortune, so if a fisherman ever caught one, they would typically throw them back to avoid the possible consequences. Seeing a Ningyo washed up on a beach is considered an omen of war or some other great calamity.

Given that the rumors of the Ningen apparently originated from a Japanese website and were popularized by a Japanese magazine, it is possible that it may be a modern interpretation of the Ningyo folklore.

What Is It, Really?

So what is the Ningen? Well, it could be practically anything. Personally, I tend to fall on the side of it being a natural evolution of old folklore being adapted to modern times. But admittedly, that’s not nearly as interesting as a giant monster lurking beneath the waters of the Antarctic.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Comments

sss on May 01, 2020:

just a beluga