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A photograph, that anybody who has spent any time in Thailand is bound of have seen, is the Queen of the Nagas; This famous photograph is displayed in bars, restaurants, guest houses and markets and homes around Thailand. The photograph was even featured in the box office hit Mekhong Full Moon Party.
The Naga is a serpent or water spirit steeped in Buddhist mythology. Buddhist temples all over Thailand have Naga’s carved from stone and often brightly decorated. It is believed that Nagas inhabit the murky, hard to reach areas of the Mekong River.
If you take a close look at the photograph you will see that there is a caption above it. It is generally agreed that the caption reads “Queen of Nagas seized by American Army at Mekhong River, Laos Military Base on June 27, 1973 with the length of 7.80 meters”
Soon after this photograph started to circulate the rumors did to. One rumor suggested that the American soldiers seen holding the naga in this famous photograph all died after eating the flesh of the fish another suggested that the plane that carried the soldiers and the creature back to the USA crashed.
Nobody knows who started this hoax or who found the picture that has been sold to countless gullible tourists and locals along the way. But it did not take long for some to start to become suspicious of the photographs authenticity and many believed it was a superb example of photo trickery.
The date and location of the capture of the Naga would be suspicious to anybody that has a basic knowledge of the United States involvement in the Vietnam war and how that pertains to Thailand and Laos. By March 1973 all combat forces had been removed from Vietnam and the closest base with US troops was in Udon Thani. There has never been a US military base on the Laos side of the Mekong. It has also been pointed out that the US forces had not, at that time, yet been issued with brown T-Shirts, similar to the ones that are shown in the photograph and the in the background you can clearly see a secure military base.
The truth is that the photograph is not a product of photo trickery, it is in fact genuine, but it was not taken in Laos in 1973. The picture was actually taken on September 19th in 1996 at the Naval Special Warfare Centre Coronado California. The body of this giant oarfish was found dead on the beach by Navy SEALs when they were out for a jog.
When the fish was found the Navy notified the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and they sent three people to the Navel Special Warfare Command. After examining the fish and interviewing the seals photos were taken, this one being one of them.