Essex - Fears a stray whale or giant octopus may have swallowed a live 2,000lb (907kg) World War II mine were rife this afternoon.
The ageing rusty bomb 'vanished' just as Navy frogmen were winching it into position off the Clacton coast.
It had been discovered on the sea bed yesterday by local Essex sea dog Captain Charlie Allnut of the dredger the African Queen - er... MV Congo River!
Today's controlled detonation had to been postponed after the mine slipped its markers in 9ft of water.
"Of course, it could just have been sucked up inside the dredger," a Frinton-on-Sea Coastguard source commented.
"Equally it might be inside the belly one of the marine predators that flock to the Essex coast this time of year."
Navy patrols are extending their search to the Thames estuary amid reports of a 5-tonne Orca whose blowhole is said to be oozing sparks and smoke.