Over the past few years, rumors have circulated in Japan about the existence of gigantic humanoid life-forms inhabiting the icy waters of the Antarctic.
Reportedly observed on multiple occasions by crew members of government-operated "whale research" ships, these so-called "Ningen" (lit. "humans") are said to be completely white in color with an estimated length of 20 to 30 meters. Eyewitnesses describe them as having a human-like shape, often with legs, arms, and even five-fingered hands. Sometimes they are described as having fins or a large mermaid-like tail instead of legs. The only visible facial features are the eyes and mouth.
Artist's rendition of a Ningen standing upright
According to one account, crew members on deck observed what they initially thought was a foreign submarine in the distance. When they approached, however, it became clear from the irregular shape of the thing that it was not man-made -- it was alive. The creature quickly disappeared under water.
For the most part, the existence of the Ningen is considered an urban legend. Much of the information about this rumored creature can be traced back to a series of posts on the 2channel forums, written by a person describing the experience of a friend employed on a government "whale research" vessel. (Read the full Japanese text of the original story that first appeared on a 2channel forum
The popular thread attracted the attention of many readers from outside the 2channel community, and the November 2007 issue of MU
magazine, a Japanese publication devoted to the study of paranormal phenomena, featured an article about the Antarctic humanoids.
The article speculated on the possibility of unidentified creatures inhabiting the southern seas, and it included a Google Maps screenshot showing what looks like a Ningen in the South Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Namibia.
To date, no solid evidence has been presented to confirm the existence of the Ningen. The government is believed to have kept detailed records of the sightings, but they have released no information to the public and have reportedly instructed eyewitnesses to remain silent.
Two videos claiming to show Ningen under water have been posted on YouTube.
Ningen sightings seem to occur most frequently at night, making them all the more difficult to photograph. In still images, the sea cryptids mostly just look like icebergs, though it is said that their smooth, human-like skin can be seen when the photographs are enlarged.
Artist's rendition of a mermaid-like Ningen
In any case, no convincing photographs have been made public, either because they do not exist or because, as some argue, the government does not want to invite undue scrutiny and tarnish the scientific reputation of the whale research program.