Apr 22, 2015 I Paul Seaburn

Video of Strange Creature Sparks Fears of Chinese Water Ghost

The strange creature was reportedly captured recently as it swam in the Shenzhen Reservoir in China's Sand Bay. It was not a fish but a hairless fierce-looking being that was able to bend the bars of the steel cage it was kept in. Its strange appearance and unusual behavior made some fear it was a mythical water ghost while others thought it was a mutation caused by a recent sewage spill into the reservoir. What is it?

A report says workers from the Department of Drainage were called out by witnesses who saw the creature in the reservoir. They placed it in a cage which it quickly began chewing apart. The workers were likely there because sewage had just been discharged into the reservoir and nearby waterways, turning the water “blood red.”


Is the creature a water ghost? In Chinese folklore, water ghosts or shui gui are believed to be bodies inhabited by the spirits of people who have drowned. They drag living humans underwater, drown them and take over their bodies (ti shen), leaving their body for the spirit of the newly deceased to continue the ghostly process.

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A photograph of an alleged water ghost

If it’s not a water ghost, was the creature created from or deformed by the sewage discharge? The Water Supplies Department in Hong Kong says it is monitoring the water quality round the clock and has seen no other abnormalities.

Wildlife experts think the creature is a small or young Malaysian bear whose hair loss was caused by alopecia, an autoimmune disease that can cause hair or fur to fall out.

If “Malaysian bear” sounds familiar, it’s because of a story earlier this month about a sick sun bear that was beaten and later captured by plantation workers on the island of Borneo in Malaysia. If you compare the videos and pictures, they look strikingly similar. An update: the sun bear received treatment.

I posted this story because I’d never heard of the water ghost and wanted to share it. It’s about ancient fears (water ghosts) and modern fears (pollution). It reminds everyone that strange does not always mean scary – it often means sick or hurt. And finally, it’s a good example of how easily we can be taken in when we want to believe the myth over the truth.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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