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2015, May 1: Woodson’s Whale

The Legend:

Reports released on May 1, 2015, told a strange story... a dairy farmer named Michael Woodson who lived near the village of Skeffling, in Yorkshire, England, was out looking for a missing cow when he found something quite unexpected in the middle of one of his fields: a dead whale, measuring 12 meters (about 33 feet) long.

Woodson's Whale
Woodson's Whale [Larger version here]

        The City Police were called to investigate, but didn't have much to say... the farm was "hundreds of kilometers" from the sea, and there was no evidence to support Woodson's theory that it was a prank pulled by local kids. There were no signs that vehicles or heavy equipment had been used in the field. There had been reports of a strange flying object in the area over the previous two days -- the 911 lines had received over a dozen calls -- but the police saw no reason to connect the reports to a dead whale.

        A team of biologists had been called in from the University of Utah to examine the body, who wanted to perform a number of tests before the dead whale was moved from the field. The police asked the public to report any information that might be related.

        And if you believe all of that, you're ignoring quite a few problems.

Strange, but True... sort of

        The above story was posted on May 1, 2015 -- and was quickly changed on May 2, 2015 -- at the somewhat poorly named WorldTruth.TV website [Link Here]. Let's quickly list off what isn't true in this account: Michael Woodson doesn't exist (the website uses a farmer picture from a stock photo website), City Police did not get involved, 911 is not what you dial in England to call for emergencies, and no UFOs were reported.

        Here's what's true: the photo is real, and the dead whale shown was found near the town of Skeffling, England (which is not "hundreds of kilometers" from the sea, by the way). Oh, and the dead whale was found in 2011, not 2015... but more on that in a moment.

        Are you curious as to why police in England would call a university in the United States to get biologists to help? That's because the first release of the whale story in WorldTruth.TV on May 1, 2015, claimed the whale had landed in Woodson's field located in the state of Utah, in the United States; so the details in the story match up to that first version of the story.

        One day later, on May 2, WorldTruth.TV altered the story to reflect the name of the town the whale had actually been reported in -- Skeffling, England -- and added a link at the end of their article to the Daily Mail web article that was their initial source for the story; but WorldTruth.TV didn't change any other details, including the biologists coming from the University of Utah instead of from someplace a little closer. I suspect that readers initially caught the website's lie about Utah, and that WorldTruth.TV responded with the name change and link. Of course, if anyone actually read the story or checked the link, it'd be obvious that WorldTruth.TV used very little of their 'source' in writing their fabrication.

        Since the whale story is based on some truth, I'm being nice and marking it as 'Factually Challenged'... which implies the authors didn't know all the facts. In this case they most certainly did, but still chose to make up a new story. Now then, if you want to know about the actual whale in a field, follow the 'See Also' link below!