When New South Wales local Ethan Tippa spotted an unfamiliar and strange-looking animal washed ashore near Lake Macquarie, Australia's largest coastal saltwater lagoon, he did what many of us would probably do: he snapped a photo, posted it to Facebook and asked: "What the f--- is it?"

The internet quickly and reliably replied: Monster of the deep! 

Thankfully, the Australian Museum has put tales of lake monsters to rest by offering a less mythical explanation on its Facebook page. The musuem's ichthyology manager, Mark McGrouther, says the sharp-toothed find appears to be a common pike eel (Muraenesox bagio) – a regular visitor to the region's soft-bottomed estuaries and coastal waters, where it feeds on fish and crustaceans.

And while these animals can grow to impressive lengths, the specimen in Tippa's photograph probably has perspective to thank for its supposed stature (just like this "Fukushima mutant"). 

“They grow to 1.8m in length, but the angle the photo is taken from probably makes it look more impressive than it is,” McGrouther explains.

The washed-up eel was probably quite old, and likely died of natural causes, though net entanglement or a boat collision are also possible culprits, marine biologist Julian Pepperell tells The Sydney Morning Herald.