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Google, Not Ghosts, Behind Creepy View of Chesapeake

Calvert County's James Ward spotted a skull in a map of the Chesapeake Bay.
Calvert County's James Ward spotted a skull in a map of the Chesapeake Bay. (Google Maps)
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"We try to reflect reality as much as possible," he said. "That couldn't happen. Or, it shouldn't happen."

Plenty of other strange shapes have been spotted in Google Maps by sharp-eyed and not-very-busy fans. There's a human face in a Peruvian sand dune and, in Canada, a rock formation that resembles a man in an Indian headdress listening to an iPod.

James Ward, a Calvert County Web designer, spotted the skull in the Chesapeake while working on a Google map of lighthouses.

"I was looking at these maps, and I was like, 'You know . . . ' " Ward said. He blogged about it, musing that the skull might be useful for environmentalists as a symbol of the bay's problems.

And he might be right: algae blooms, which can be as green as the skull in the image, appear regularly in the bay and its tributary rivers. Sometimes they create areas devoid of the oxygen that other life needs.

Dead zones, they are called.

In any event, the skull is probably not an evil omen from the beyond. At Hart Miller Island, a Maryland state park that Google Maps shows jutting into the skull's spectral forehead, employees have not heard rattling chains, seen ghostly pirates or experienced any other traditional signs of a maritime curse.

"They were just laughing hysterically at even the thought of it," said Campbell, the state natural resources spokeswoman.

Then, Campbell said, one of the employees remembered something. "We did have a boat burn last week," she said.

But she said that was probably just a coincidence.

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