Ningen: Proof of Mermaids or Antarctic Underwater Nightmare?

Antarctica, the coldest, driest, and windiest place on Earth, is one of the most peculiar places to research. With strange fish and seemingly unnatural occurrences, scientists have made some astounding discoveries over the last few decades. But Antarctica may have something even more menacing lurking beneath its icy waters. 



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Antarctica, one of Earth’s most peculiar places, is home to some of the most mysterious creatures and phenomena. Because of its unique environment being the coldest, driest, and windiest place on earth, with the average temperature being -71 degrees, it’s not hard to fathom there’s a lot we still don’t know. And while harsh winters are an understatement, that doesn’t mean there aren’t thriving microbes, crustaceans, and strange fish lurking beneath the icy depths. What was originally thought of as impossible living conditions, scientists and researchers alike have since made some astounding discoveries over the past several decades. 

Antarctica: Earth’s Greatest Mysteries

Take the See-Through Fish, for instance. Nearly a decade ago, scientists and researchers began drilling through the Ross Ice Shelf, the largest ice shelf in Antarctica, to see if they could find any sign of life. Unsure of what they might find, they used a “hot-water drill to push through 2,400 feet, or 740 meters, of ice, and lowered a remote-controlled submersible down the hole.” After coming back up from the surface, scientists made a bizarre discovery. The pictures and video below showcased a new fish unknown at the time. 

According to Reinhold Hanel, a German biologist, these fish make up 91% of total animals by weight or biomass and 77% of species living in the Antarctic waters. And while scientists are unsure if the see-through fish belongs to the Nototheniodei, an order of fish who thrive in icy waters, or a new species entirely, still yet, this is a major discovery on their part. 

But the See-Through Fish isn’t the only bizarre underwater Antarctic creature. Not only is Antarctica home to translucent fish, but it’s also home to the “unfreezable” fish known as the Antarctic Springtail. But don’t let its size fool you. Although it’s only about one or two millimeters long, its resiliency to freezing temperatures allows it to quite possibly cheat death. According to Huw Griffiths, a marine biogeographer at the British Antarctic Survey, he shares that “these tiny animals can survive being frozen solid and defrosted on a regular basis.” In his words, “Put them in a freezer, and they’ll happily walk around again.”

And, of course, fascinating creatures are only a portion of the hauntingly beautiful continent we call Antarctica. Let us not forget about the strange phenomenon of the singing ice discovery in 2018. Or the giant hole, known as Polynya, was first discovered in the 1970s and again in 2017, with an area of “approximately 3,700 square miles” that “increased in size by more than eight times” over the following weeks. Oh yeah, and then there’s Blood Falls, where “red liquid oozes out the side of Taylor Glacier, which was discovered by geologist Griffith Taylor over 100 years ago.” According to Taylor, at the time, he suspected it had to do with red algae, however, now we know it’s more likely due to the “iron-rich salty liquid that forms beneath the glacier.” 

But despite some of these bizarre yet monumental discoveries, perhaps there’s something much more menacing and lesser-known than translucent fish or discolored icy waters. What if Antarctica is home to an aquatic creature, a lot more human than we’d like to admit? 

Ningen: Sightings and Story

In the mid-2000s, the popular Japanese online forum 2Channel, sparked the interest of its readers when an article began floating around about an unknown creature spotted in Antarctica. While Japanese researchers were out studying whales, they came across something that they couldn’t quite explain. Out on the Antarctic coast, something massive surfaced near their ship. Originally, they thought it was just a foreign submarine. However, when they peered over to take a closer look, it vanished into the waves. 

Here’s a snippet from a loose author’s translation on the 2Channel forum, “In the last few years of whale research, it is said that some objects witnessed cannot be officially announced. The people involved describe these objects as being “human-shaped.” There are several types, one looks like a human with four limbs and a head, and one looks as if two humans’ upper bodies had been joined together. Emerging from the water, they look just like whales, with white bodies several meters long. Researchers are really baffled by this discovery as they had never seen anything like it before.”

The creature they spotted in Antarctica’s icy waters? The Ningen. 

According to cryptid folklore, the Ningen, meaning “Human” in Japanese, can be described as a massive, blubbery, humanoid creature ranging from 20-35 meters long with pale, white skin and long, slender limbs. While a few researchers have described the Ningen as being translucent, others have likened its skin to a more milky white color. Some even describe the creature as having fins or a mermaid-like tail instead of legs. But despite its size or color, many of these Japanese researchers agree that the creepiest factor of all is that this underwater creature not only has the torso of a whale, but it also has a human like-face. 

Ningen: Possible Explanations

Although the Ningen may not be the most popular cryptid, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a number of possible explanations. If you ask most researchers, they’d probably tell you that Ningen sightings are nothing more than your average aquatic creatures like the blue whale or even an undiscovered species of albino ray. 

In 2010, a Japanese chemical research company published a video on YouTube showcasing various ocean life. Many viewers noticed that at the end of the video, “lying on the ocean floor, a large creature with small eyes and a large, smiling slit-like mouth can be spotted.” Because of the growing popularity of the 2Channel forum a few years prior, many believed this was proof of the Ningen. However, most people just chalked it up to a distorted-looking image of a snaggle-toothed snake eel. 

But others will tell you that Ningen isn’t a blue whale or a snaggle-toothed snake eel. Many researchers believe that the Ningen isn’t a living animal at all but just an oddly-shaped iceberg or even a large submarine, like the initial whale researchers originally speculated.

And then there are those who see the Ningen as living proof of yet another one of life’s greatest mysteries, the mermaid. All throughout history, we’ve become obsessed with these types of underwater legends, from evil sirens luring men to their demise to beautiful and talented Disney princesses little girls dream of becoming. And if you take a look at Japanese lore, they even have their own version of a mermaid, the “Ningyo” or “human fish,” that’s represented in various Japanese literature. 

As you can see, there are several different explanations for this strange Antarctic creature. With little proof and few sightings, the Ningen is probably one of the easiest cryptids to dismiss. However, in 2007, not long after the original Ningen sighting, another possible sighting surfaced, only this time, there might just have been proof after all. 

What do YOU Make of the Ningen?

According to the November issue of MU, a Japanese magazine dedicated to strange, mysterious, and paranormal stories, published its own article about the elusive cryptid. The most peculiar part of this story? Not only did the author describe a “large, white, human-shaped monster,” but apparently, Google Earth has direct coordinates. 

Take what you want from this screenshot. Many argue that these coordinates are strong evidence of the Ningen and even go on to say that its appearance is a warning about the dangers of global warming. Others believe it’s simply just a distorted-looking iceberg that coincidentally looks like a sea monster. Nothing more, nothing less. 

And with our minimal knowledge of what lies beneath Antarctica’s ice sheets, it’s easy to let our imagination run wild. So I’ll let you be the judge. Are you team Ningen in all of its icy cryptid glory, are you open to the idea of mermaids living among us, or believe that humans will stop at nothing to try and find patterns in ordinary objects that simply aren’t there?

If you love cryptids and want to learn even more about the creatures we just talked about, find us on Tiktok or Instagram. By the way, the episode you just witnessed is both a podcast and YouTube video, so whichever format you prefer, we have you covered. Also, check out our interactive cryptid map to browse the globe and learn about cryptids from your favorite areas. Every episode we make adds another pin to our map! You can find our social channels, the map, and more at And when you find us, be sure to tap that follow button and get in on the action by dropping a comment on our recent videos. 

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Thanks for touring Cryptids Across the Atlas. Until next time, keep your eyes open. You never know what you might see just on the edge of the road. 

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