Google Earth enables us to explore the world from the comfort of our armchairs – in ways that previous generations could only dream about. Moreover, after the novelty of zooming down on our own houses wears off, many of us begin exploring further afield – and that’s when things start to get really interesting. Sure, we’ve discovered some amazing things, but we’ve also come across some scary or weird stuff – and these 20 images are cases in point.
20. Sea monster, Antarctic
The Kraken, the well-known mythical Nordic sea monster, appears to have migrated to Antarctica; at least, that’s what this terrifying Google Earth image suggests. And while it’s difficult to make head or tail of the thing, at least sailors know exactly which stretch of sea to avoid – which, if you’re wondering, is just south-west of Deception Island.
19. Murder scene, Netherlands
The internet went crazy when this apparent murder scene in Almere in the Netherlands was revealed by Google Earth. It had everything: a culprit, a body – plus somewhere to dump it – and, indeed, a trail of “blood.” However, in June 2013 the shape was revealed to actually be that of a living, breathing dog and the “blood” no more than water that had dripped from its fur – at least, according to the animal’s owner, who had come forward to allay fears.
18. Salt ponds, Niger
From Google Earth they look like some weird kind of giant honeycomb. However, these strange blobs are actually salt ponds harboring colored brine. They’re found next to the small Saharan town of Teguidda-n-Tessoumt in Niger, and they’re needed to extract the mineral from the dry desert clay.
17. Bloody lake, Iraq
Thanks to its years of conflict, it is – sadly – not that hard to imagine lakes of blood in Iraq. In 2007 this one – located near Sadr City in northern Baghdad – was noticed on Google Earth. Precisely why it glowed bright red was never determined, but TIME speculated that it was either because of water-treatment works or some kind of pollution.
16. Giant clay face, Canada
The huge face in the clay in Alberta, Canada, is known as the “Badlands Guardian” or, for obvious reasons, the “Indian Head.” And although it might look as though it’s been carved by hand, this near-perfect formation – which faces due west – is actually solely the work of Mother Nature.
15. UFO base, Antarctica
This Google Earth image taken over Antarctica has sent some conspiracy theorists into a frenzy. Why? Because they reckon this gaping hole in the frozen rocky landscape could mark the entrance to a UFO base – one with a metal canopy, no less. However, others think it’s nothing more exciting than a cave.
14. Giant cat, Chile
It may look like a giant anthropomorphic cat, and a super creepy one at that, but this is actually Chile’s Atacama Giant – the largest figure of its kind on the planet. Measuring 390 feet from top to bottom, the giant – which resides in a particularly desolate environment – was worshipped between 1000 and 1400 AD.
13. Rampaging man, Germany
Hover over Munich on Google Maps and before long you’ll notice a 56-foot-tall man who appears to be on the rampage. Fortunately, Walking Man isn’t going anywhere fast; he’s actually a sculpture installed in the German city in 1995 by artist Jonathan Borofsky. Not that those looking from above would know.
12. Domestic explosion, Netherlands
Dronten, located a few miles northeast of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, is generally a sleepy kind of place. Google Earth, however, has captured something truly strange happening here – a kaleidoscopic explosion happening right above somebody’s house. Nobody, strangely, seems sure what exactly happened, although it could simply be the sun’s glare.
11. Exploding boat, Russia
Approximately 140 miles north of Moscow, on the upper section of Russia’s Volga River, is the Uglich Reservoir. So far, so normal. Yet look at it from Google Earth’s vantage point and you’ll notice something traveling across it – or possibly into it – at great speed. Maybe it’s a speedboat; perhaps it’s a crashing airplane. Either way, it looks like sparks are flying.
10. Sea monster, New Zealand
Something big is going down in New Zealand’s Oke Bay – at least, it is if this huge wake is anything to go by. Pita Witehira, a local engineer who spotted it on the ground, told Daily Mail Australia that it had likely been caused by a beast 40 foot long. “‘It’s way too wide for a shark and way too long,” he insisted. “It’s got to have a lot of weight under the water to create that kind of drag.”
9. Bottomless pool, Libya
Google Maps itself calls this Libya’s “bottomless pool.” Presumably the Ajdabiya Water Reservoir – which stands out like a sore thumb in the arid north African landscape – does have a bottom deep down somewhere. In any case, because water is scarce in this part of the world, there’s a good reason for why it needs to be so deep.
8. Desert circles, Libya
Libya seems to have a thing for perfectly round holes in the desert. Check out these ones, which are just some of the many that litter a desert region in the east of the country. These seem especially sinister not just because of their size – each is around 3,500 feet wide – but also because of how many there are.