This sounds like something Saturday Night Live's Stefon would say: "Britain's hottest new club is ... a former ghost ship filled with cannibalistic rats. It has everything: no lights, cat-sized rodents, traces of scurvy..." People in the U.K. collectively freaked out Thursday over a story that sounded like it was ripped straight from The Onion: "Could this Russian ghost ship infested with CANNIBAL RATS beach in Britain?" The ship, named Lyubov Orlova, is rumored to be floating somewhere in the Atlantic, and some suspected wind had driven it — and its unwelcome vermin — close to British shores. But it's likely just a myth, and the massive Lyubov Orlova might have sunk or hit rocks by now.
Despite being instant clickbait, the ship's tale does make for an all-too-good ghost story. The 4,250-ton ship's journey began in Yugoslavia, where it was first built in 1976 and named after a Russian actress. After it was abandoned in Newfoundland because its owners fought over debts, the boat was set to be scrapped in 2012. However, the Lyubov Orlova detached from its mooring on its way to the Dominican Republic and has presumably been floating around in the Atlantic for some time. No one has been able to successfully track it , although satellites have picked up images near Scotland that are comparable in size.
And where did the part about the supposedly hundreds of infected rats feasting off each other come from? Irish Coast Guard Director Chris Reynolds once remarked that since he assumes there's foreign rats on board, they could prove to be a biohazard if released. (Foreigners.)
So is there any possibility that the British Isles could see its beaches populated with zombie rats in the near future? Reynolds now laughs at the scenario, but can't rule it out completely.
"We had a three-month drift prediction project using satellites and radar images trying to locate the ship, and did some modelling which showed that it could be heading to Norway or the south of England. But the ship had its transmitting monitors turned off. So you can't be 100% sure. We couldn't find it and there was no value to keep on searching. But we have to keep vigilant."
While this is no Carnival poop cruise — remember that time when passengers were stranded for five days without working toilets? — it's definitely dangerous that there might be a big hulking ship floating around the ocean.
Nonetheless, both the ship and rats already have parody accounts.
Someone make a movie about this, stat! We're sure Captain Jack Sparrow would approve.
Image via Giphy