YouTube user William Guy posted the original video on Sept. 28, and it’s accumulated more than 420,000 views since it first appeared online. The 30-second clip was shot from a ferry at sunset off the Outer Banks in N.C., according to the Charlotte Observer.
“Anybody tell me what that is?” a man says in the video. “We’re in the middle of the ocean, on a ferry, nothing around.” He pans the camera around in a circle to demonstrate his location. “Nothing around. No land, no nothing.”
The so-called “UFOs” appear as 14 pinpoints of light clustered in a rough line over the water in the distance, seemingly among the clouds.
“You only see this stuff on TV,” another voice on the boat says.
Guy told the Charlotte Observer he recorded the footage on Sept. 18 in Pamlico Sound, a body of water separating the Outer Banks from mainland North Carolina. He said he was on a ferry travelling from Ocracoke Island to Swan Quarter on the mainland when he spotted the lights.
The video triggered fierce debate in its comments section, where UFO enthusiasts embraced it as evidence of extraterrestrial visitors, while skeptics suggested the lights were likely linked to one of the nearby military bases in North Carolina.
“I guarantee they are parachute flares and fell into the ocean,” user Defensive Strategies, LLC wrote in a comment on Monday. “Military base not far from there and lots of military operations areas around there.”
User Derrick Chennault, who claimed to be a former Marine based in Cherry Point, N.C., also described the lights as flares.
“We used to regularly drop flares out of the back of our plane in the evenings for military exercises in that area,” he wrote. “They are one million candle power each so they were pretty bright and can be seen from far away and floated down slow as they hung from a parachute.”
Several others who claimed to have military experience also attributed the sighting to parachute flares. Interestingly, a spokesperson for Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina told Fox News that no aircraft were in the area on the day Guy’s video was posted.
One user suggested flagging the video to Tom DeLonge, the Blink-182 band member and co-founder of an alien research group called To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science.
A U.S. Navy spokesperson confirmed earlier this year that three UFO videos released through DeLonge’s organization were authentic. However, the spokesperson did not provide an explanation for what he described as “unidentified aerial phenomena.”
The spokesperson said he was acknowledging the videos because these unexplained phenomena might present a danger to pilots.
That confirmation emerged amid a major pop-culture moment for UFO enthusiasts as they prepared for a viral event to “storm Area 51” in the Nevada desert on Sept. 20. The tongue-in-cheek event ultimately played out as a series of music concerts, parties and protests about aliens.