A SEA creature the size of a two-storey house was seen lurking on the shore at Bournemouth beach yesterday.
The sinister looking statue, which has more than a passing resemblance to entrepreneur Richard Branson, was erected around 500 yards east of Bournemouth Pier as part of a Virgin Media advertising film.
Chava Nichols, who was visiting the area from New York, said she was surprised to see the 25ft creature as she went out for a stroll in the morning sunshine.
"They have a saying - it only happens in New York. But after seeing this, I guess you could say it only happens in Bournemouth," she added.
Sophia Ray, of Nice and Polite Films, confirmed the statue, which was placed on the beach at 2am and weighs more than six tonnes, was being used as part of an advertising shoot for the telecommunications giant and deliberately styled to look like its distinctive boss.
A number of passers-by stopped to take pictures, including holidaymaker Alex Borland, who said he had to do a double take as he walked along the seafront.
“It reminded me of something out of the Jason and Argonauts movie,” he added. “For a moment I thought we were being invaded!”
Its appearance also caused a stir on Twitter, with residents sharing their pictures and speculating on its sudden appearance.
Bournemouth resident Nick Joy tweeted a picture of the statue to the Virgin boss, with the caption: “Bransonzilla spotted on Bournemouth beach this morning!”
Mr Branson replied: “Not sure I see the resemblance ;)”
A spokesperson for Virgin media said the structure had taken a team of sculptors more than 500 hours to design and produce.
Did you take your picture with the Bransonzilla? send us your selfies to firstname.lastname@example.org - don't forget to include the name of the people in the picture!