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Mystery Photo

3-31-16 mystery photo1009Many of my posts are the result of a call from someone familiar with my “natural curiosity” as well as my need for five interesting subjects to photograph and write about each week.  A naturalist friend who shall remain anonymous (for reasons that will become apparent) sent me a photograph asking me to identify something he had discovered partially submerged, clinging to a rock in a freshwater pond several miles away.

I was unfamiliar with any invertebrate aquatic species that even vaguely resembled this organism, and immediately thought it would make a great “mystery photo” for my blog.  The only trouble was that I needed to know what species it was in order to solve the mystery for my readers the following day, so I knew that if it was possible I needed to see this creature for myself.

It was a stretch to hope that it would still be in the same location 24 hours later, but I felt it was worth the trip to this pond just in case luck was with me.  After getting specific directions to the location of the rock I visited the pond, and to my total delight the subject I was searching for was there, exactly where it had been seen the day before.   With a 400mm lens I was able to photograph it (after slipping knee-deep into the pond trying to get as close as I could to it).  Long story short, hoping beyond hope that this actually was a very rare, if not totally new, species, I took hundreds of pictures of it in an attempt to get its “tail” to show.  Strong winds caused tiny waves to wash over it every other second, making this quite difficult, but I persevered, and came home very excited to have achieved the unlikely accomplishment of having actually found and photographed this bizarre-looking creature.

Only after downloading and blowing up image after image did I realize that my wet feet were for naught… I spent several hours, considerable gas, over 1,000 photographs and got my feet soaked all for an algae-covered fishing lure, or something man-made, perhaps a spring of some sort.  Waking up this morning, I realized Mother Nature had royally succeeded in April fooling at least two naturalists, at least one of whom is feeling very humbled.

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43 responses

  1. Lyndsey

    fishing lure

    April 1, 2016 at 6:37 am

  2. Lynne Woodard

    Ha! I had a similar experience once with something I eventually realized was a blob of fresh bird poop.

    April 1, 2016 at 6:40 am

  3. Alfred Balch

    Mary, It looks like somebody lost their Plastic Worm fishing lure!  AB

    April 1, 2016 at 6:52 am

  4. Yes, we are all fooled at least once!

    April 1, 2016 at 7:02 am

  5. cassie george

    looks like a fishing lure. 🙂

    April 1, 2016 at 7:05 am

  6. Brian Burkholder

    that’s definitely a soft plastic lure on a bass hook. There’s any number of those types on the market now, and though many poeple try to rig them weedless, this one, as you said, was stuck to a rock. It looks like it could be something like this:

    April 1, 2016 at 7:06 am

    • Unbelievably similar! How could I be so ignorant about fishing lures? Thanks for educating me!

      April 1, 2016 at 7:55 am

      • Brian

        Was just at the edge of casting range from shore? Possibly the angler didn’t feel like wading out to retrieve it either!

        April 1, 2016 at 10:17 am

  7. Chris

    At first quick glance, I thought it was some kind of big worm!

    April 1, 2016 at 7:15 am

  8. D Perillat

    Great story!

    April 1, 2016 at 7:22 am

  9. Mike Doten

    fishing lure…nice April fools!

    April 1, 2016 at 7:31 am

  10. J. Griffin

    Thanks! I wondered why the “Thing” had a metal “eye” on it.

    April 1, 2016 at 7:38 am

  11. April

    My first guess is amusing enough to want to share: two copulating caterpillars. Absurd on a number of levels! I nearly sputtered my coffee when I realized how silly a thought that was. Thanks for a fun mystery/April Fools from a fool named April.

    April 1, 2016 at 7:59 am

  12. Alan Donald

    I fear some fisherman has left something behind for an unsuspecting critter to ingest.

    April 1, 2016 at 8:04 am


    Mary I believe that what you have is a” Senko” in a color known as “pumpkin.” It is an indicator that at least one angler believes your pond contains large or smallmouth bass. 🙂

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE DROID

    Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > a:hover { color: red; } a { text-decoration: none; color: #0088cc; } a.primaryactionlink:link, a.primaryactionlink:visited { background-color: #2585B2; color: #fff; } a.primaryactionlink:hover, a.primaryactionlink:active { background-color: #11729E !important; color: #fff !important; } /* @media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { .post { min-width: 700px !important; } } */ Mary Holland posted: “Many of my posts are the result of a call from someone familiar with my “natural curiosity” as well as my need for five interesting subjects to photograph and write about each week.  A naturalist friend who shall remain anonymous (for reasons that will be”

    April 1, 2016 at 8:08 am

  14. Marilyn

    Not a caterpillar swallowing a cotter pin??!

    April 1, 2016 at 8:15 am

  15. Kathie Fiveash

    Did you touch it when you photographed it?

    April 1, 2016 at 8:20 am

    • No, it was too far from shore…I debated wading out to it, but for once, sanity reigned!

      April 1, 2016 at 8:39 am

  16. This is such a great post!!! Thank you for sharing the fact ghat YOU didn’t know what something was. What a great honest person you are!!! Suzan Baltozer On Apr 1, 2016 6:30 AM, “Naturally Curious with Mary Holland” wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “Many of my posts are the result of a call from > someone familiar with my “natural curiosity” as well as my need for five > interesting subjects to photograph and write about each week. A naturalist > friend who shall remain anonymous (for reasons that will be” >

    April 1, 2016 at 8:25 am

  17. :o)

    April 1, 2016 at 8:40 am

  18. carol stanley

    great post for april fools. sorry you went to all that trouble. it sure looked interesting to me before i read on! thanks for all your great work.

    April 1, 2016 at 8:53 am

  19. Randi Filoon

    Now that is really funny!!! Randi

    Sent from my iPad


    April 1, 2016 at 9:21 am

  20. Inge Ackermann

    Mary, thank you. Perhaps the metal looking hooklike thing should have helped. Happy April 1.

    – Inge 413.549.4870


    April 1, 2016 at 9:27 am

    • It did give me considerable pause, Inge, but not enough to stop photographing it!

      April 1, 2016 at 9:37 am

  21. Fishing lure

    April 1, 2016 at 9:30 am

  22. Clay

    Ah, yes. The Seiko plastic work is a great lure for bass and many other species. I’ve even caught some nice trout and striped bass on them!

    April 1, 2016 at 9:57 am

  23. I love this story!

    April 1, 2016 at 10:04 am

  24. k

    The lure worked well! It lured you out to a pond to photograph it!

    April 1, 2016 at 10:31 am

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  26. Sarah C-E

    Great photo and good reminder that the human explanation is often the proximate cause of an oddity.

    April 1, 2016 at 11:02 am

  27. Hahaa!! That is hilarious! It looked real to me, until you said it was a lure. Perfect for April fools day. I did that once with a tarantula. I gathered people around to see it, and it turned out to be a child’s rubber toy, washed down the creek. Oh well. It’s good to be able to laugh at ourselves!

    April 1, 2016 at 11:31 am

  28. is it one of the tomato worms that was used by a fisherman (hook embedded in worm) as bait?

    April 1, 2016 at 12:37 pm

  29. Susan Greenberg

    Great shot and story.  I do believe you have identified a new species.  Though it may be difficult to fit it into our current taxonomic system. DeanTotally appropriate for April fools day!

    From: Naturally Curious with Mary Holland To: Sent: Friday, April 1, 2016 6:29 AM Subject: [New post] Mystery Photo #yiv7509938989 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv7509938989 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv7509938989 a.yiv7509938989primaryactionlink:link, #yiv7509938989 a.yiv7509938989primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv7509938989 a.yiv7509938989primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv7509938989 a.yiv7509938989primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv7509938989 | Mary Holland posted: “Many of my posts are the result of a call from someone familiar with my “natural curiosity” as well as my need for five interesting subjects to photograph and write about each week.  A naturalist friend who shall remain anonymous (for reasons that will be” | |

    April 1, 2016 at 12:42 pm

  30. molly

    Fishing lure

    April 1, 2016 at 1:03 pm

  31. BR

    yes, indeed! You are an adventurer for sure! Your blow up made it obvious. Happy Days. remember to do your “tick checks”. they are out in force. Bern

    April 1, 2016 at 1:36 pm

  32. Ha, good one, Mary! 😀

    April 1, 2016 at 1:37 pm

  33. John Wetzel

    Looks like the handle of a small trowel to me.

    April 1, 2016 at 2:01 pm

  34. awfirestone

    Thanks for being such a great researcher and for having such a great sense of humor, AND for sharing it with us all!!!

    April 1, 2016 at 3:58 pm

  35. Susan E. Costanza

    It appears to be a fishing lure, due to the little black ring at the top, where it could be attached to a fish finder.

    April 1, 2016 at 4:33 pm

  36. mary

    I thought you had set it up to look like a caterpillar with a tiny magnifier! Ha

    April 2, 2016 at 11:11 am

  37. tim

    I love this story! When I read the first part of your post and then looked the photo I thought it was some kind of invertebrate too. Here’s to fun follies as a naturalist!

    Just so you know you are not alone, here’s another story for you:

    I work as a guide on the coast of British Columbia leading wildlife watching trips. One day while exploring an estuary with 4 or 5 people in a small skiff I spotted the unmistakable fur of a grizzly bear – barely visible – through some sedges near the river edge. It seemed the bear was resting during the heat of the afternoon; lying down among the tall sedges it was really tough to see. I felt pretty proud to have spotted such a well-hidden bear. Okay, fine, I felt smug. I might have puffed out my chest a bit.

    In a hushed voice I explained what I had seen to the people with me. This got everybody pretty excited at the prospect of catching a glimpse of the bear. I looked through my binoculars a couple more times and could just see the bear move slightly through the sedge. Then I gave myself some more self-congratulations at my superior guiding skills.

    As we rowed to a vantage point where I hoped we would be able to see the bear from a respectful distance, it started to move a bit. Then it started to move a bit more. I told everyone to get ready and they responded by raising cameras and binoculars for the big moment when the bear would stand up in full view. The seconds ticked by. A raven croaked. And then…and then…the bear opened up its wings and flew away.

    Turns out the bear I spotted was actually a goose.


    How about that for eating humble pie?

    Thanks for sharing Mary. I love your posts.

    April 14, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    • Hi Tim,
      You are so kind to share your story with me — it makes me feel slightly better! Though your bear didn’t have a piece of metal sticking out of one end! What I would give to live in British Columbia – nature at its best, and no Donald Trump!

      April 14, 2016 at 4:13 pm

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