No, an Abandoned Ship Full of Diseased Rats Is Not Floating Towards Britain | Smart News | Smithsonian

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The Orlova off Petermann Island (Antarctic Peninsula), 2010 (before being abandoned). (Lilpop,Rau&Loewenstein)

No, an Abandoned Ship Full of Diseased Rats Is Not Floating Towards Britain

If you believe the headlines, a ghost ship full of cannibal rats is heading for England. Don't believe the headlines.

smithsonian.com

Off the coast of England there is a ship. Well, there are probably many ships, but this ship in particular is interesting because it has no people on it. It’s a ghost ship—a 1,400 ton ocean liner of a ghost ship. If you believe the headlines, it’s full of cannibal rats, and it’s heading for England. Neither of those things are true. 

The Lyobov Orlova disappeared on Febrauary 4th of last year while it was being towed from Newfoundland to the Dominican Republic. How and why the ship was cut loose is still a mystery, and for months, no one knew where it was. 

According to some sources, the ship is infested with “cannibal rats.” But this is more theory than fact, as no one has been on the ship in a year. The cannibal rat theory comes from Pim De Rhoodes, a Belgian salvage hunter, who told tabloid The Sun“There will be a lot of rats and they eat each other. If I get aboard I'll have to lace everywhere with poison.” De Rhoodes has no actual information about whether there are rats on the boat, or whether they're diseased, cannibalistic or perfectly civilized.

According to the BBC, the ship has yet to be sighted off English waters. The Irish Coast Guard isn’t worried, nor is the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency. For more Orlova sightings, the blog Where is Lyubov Orlova tracks sightings and theories about the ship. You can see map of sightings, as well as the ship’s deck plan, and there are shirts and mugs on offer for the most intrepid Orlova hunters. 

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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