Is 'El Monstruo' Discovery's Real-Life 'Submarine' Shark?

As Discovery's Shark Week continues its yearly ratings dominance, the network is dissecting the story of El Monstruo, a terrifying white shark of exceptional size, revealing that the legendary shark may represent the real-life equivalent of animals previously examined in a series of fake documentaries.

The story of El Monstruo is set to feature as part of Tiburones: Sharks Of Cuba, as the Sun Sentinel reports. Dating from 1945, the tale alleges that six men set out along Cuba's northern coast, from the fishing village of Cojimar, in an effort to catch the predator responsible for driving marine life from the area. Armed with ropes and harpoons, the anglers engaged in a night-and-day struggle with a massive white shark, eventually landing the beast that came to be known as El Monstruo.

An immense shark by any standard, El Monstruo was reportedly 21-feet-long, which would make it the largest white shark ever caught. Though photos of the shark were taken at the time, experts have cast doubt upon the story, remaining skeptical of El Monstruo's astonishing size. Now, however, Discovery asserts that it has been able to verify the tale, even speaking with an elderly man who touched the animal when he was a child. Observing images of the giant shark, the man was able to identify himself as a youngster sitting upon El Monstruo's head while crowds gathered around.Discovery is no stranger to the search for giant white sharks, a massive ratings driver that has come to characterize Shark Week in recent years. In both 2013 and again in 2014, the network came under fire for airing a series of mockumentaries that purported to prove the continued existence of the megalodon, an ancient species of giant shark. Last year, Discovery also aired a special meant to examine the legend of the Submarine, a massive white shark said to live off the coast of South Africa, as the Inquisitr previously reported.

The special, Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine, was widely criticized for a wealth of dramatized inaccuracies, not the least of which was the very existence of the shark itself. As Southern Fried Science reports, the legend of the Submarine was started by a group of journalists in the 1970s, who wanted to see how easy it would be to fool the public. Stories continued to persist over the years, however, leading many to believe a 25- to 30-foot-long white shark was swimming the world's oceans.

Thanks to an attentive photographer, there is at least evidence of the existence of the massive shark in Cuba. With the efforts of the researchers behind Tiburones: Sharks of Cuba, El Monstruo may yet take its place in the record books as the largest great white shark ever caught.

[Image: Discovery via the Sun Sentinel]