Australian marine experts said a mysterious creature that drew comparisons to a "messed-up crocodile" online appears to be a large pike eel.

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The photo, snapped by Robert Tyndall at the Swansea Boat Ramp on the shore of Lake Macquarie and posted to Facebook by Ethan Tippa, sparked a flurry of speculation online from social media users who compared it to a "messed-up crocodile," the Loch Ness monster or a mystery sea creature of "freakish" size.

"This is at Swansea boat ramp. What the [expletive] is it?" Tippa said in his Facebook post.

Mark McGrouther, the Australian Museum's ichthyology manager, offered an answer to Tippa's question: It appears to be a pike eel.

"They grow to [6 feet] in length but the angle the photo is taken from probably makes it look more impressive than it is, McGrouther told the Daily Telegraph.

Commenters initially dismissed the pike eel possibility due to the creature in the photo appearing to exceed 6 feet, but Tyndall said the animal was actually only about 4-1/2 feet long.

He said the creature appeared larger in the picture.

"I knew it was some kind of eel and it's a big eel, but it definitely looks bigger," Tyndall told the Newcastle Herald.

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A Department of Primary Industries spokesman agreed the animal appeared to be a mature pike eel.

"Judging by the size it is believed that the eel was mature and may have died from natural causes," the spokesman said.