The Petrozavodsk Jellyfish UFO Sighting

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
June 30, 2022
Estimated Reading Time
13 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Cover-Ups

In the early hours one September morning in the late 1970s in the Soviet Union, with the Cold War still very real and in place, residents of a small Russian town woke to see a bizarre light moving overhead. As they watched, the light took on the appearance of a strange jellyfish-like object which sent obscure beams of light to the ground even leaving behind physical evidence of its presence.

A depiction of Jellyfish-like UFOs

The 1977 case is one of the most well-known UFO sightings in Russian history

The incident remains one of the most intriguing UFO encounters on record, and despite several explanations put forward, in the minds of many UFO researchers the incident remains a complete mystery. That the incident occurred while the Cold War was in full swing and still a decade away from its end only adds intrigue and muddies the waters.

Were the residents of Petrozavodsk visited by alien beings from another world in the middle of the night? Or were the witnesses to some kind of top-secret Cold War technology or aircraft that was being discreetly tested by its own government?

Indeed, the incident we are about to examine is one of the strangest and most intriguing to come out of the Cold War period.

An Intensely Radiant Star Like A Shining Jellyfish!

At around 4 am on 20th September 1977, according to the files of Michael Hesemann, multiple residents of Petrozavodsk, particularly those who were up early for work, witnessed one of the most bizarre sights ever recorded. According to the newspaper, Pravda, an “intensely radiant star which looked like a shining jellyfish, stood above Petrozavodsk”.

The report continued that the object moved slowly and threw “rays of light on the city”, elaborating that there were “thousands of beams” and that it “looked like heavy rain”. Eventually, this object “changed its brightness” before heading off in the direction of Onezskoe Lake.

A depiction of a jellyfish UFO

Residents claimed to have seen tentacle-like lights

When residents first noticed the bizarre aerial anomaly, they noted how it appeared to descend in a spiraling motion, looking similar to a “ball of fire”. Strangest of all, however, it then reduced its speed, meaning there was no chance that they were witnessing a meteorite. Eventually, it came to a complete stop and hovered directly overhead for a little over five minutes. As it hovered the witnesses became aware of a “terrible noise” that came from the craft, a noise that sounded like the “howling of a siren”. Then, this howling noise ceased, and the object began to move once more, heading toward the main center of the town.

One description of the object as it moved away was that it looked like a “reddish-orange hemisphere surrounded by a bright zone”. Inside this zone there appeared to be “many points of light like stars that twinkled and disappeared”. As it moved away from the initial group of witnesses, it began to pulsate slightly, and an obscure beam of light shaped like a cone came from the underside of it. A moment later, a second beam was visible. Both beams remained for several seconds before eventually disappearing.

Then, things became a little more dramatic.

Thin Rays Of Light Like Thin Arrows

As more and more people began to notice the curious anomaly in the sky, multiple “thin rays of light”, described like “thin arrows” came down from the sky heading toward the ground. And seconds after this happened, a surge of panic spread through the onlookers, who, until that point, had watched more out of fascination than fear.

Many ran back inside looking to take cover from what they believed was an imminent attack. Others flung themselves on the ground. There were rumblings among the local population in the immediate minutes following the display that what they were seeing was the imminent arrival of an American nuclear attack.

The more the onlookers watched the display, however, despite their fear, the more details they noticed. The object now had the appearance of a huge jellyfish – approximately 300 feet across – with “golden tentacles” that shone in many “beautiful colors”. What’s more, it was clear that the strange beams of light had a curve to them, much like the tentacles of a jellyfish or octopus.

What is also of interest, at least according to a report by TASS journalist, Nikolai Milov, was that many people looked decidedly ill in the minutes following the incident, a look that continued for hours afterward. Some of the witnesses who spoke with Milov claimed that they could feel some kind of “electric current” running through their body when the arrow-like lights appeared.

Even stranger, where these lights touched the ground, and sometimes windowsills, they left rough holes. Then, some of the witnesses recalled the object descending even closer.

“Either A UFO, Or A Field Of Energy That Came From A UFO!”

It settled once again, a short distance away near the harbor. The closer it had gotten, the brighter the object appeared, and was now so bright that many of the witnesses had to shield their eyes somewhat in order to view it.

Then, things turned stranger still.

Multiple residents saw a “bulb-shaped object” detach itself from the main craft and set out over the rooftops of the local houses and buildings, as if performing some kind of reconnaissance mission. It continued to do this for several minutes before returning to the main craft. Some witnesses claimed that it disappeared into an opening on the underside, perhaps suggesting some kind of remote-controlled drone.

Following this, according to statements given by the Director of the Meteorological Station of Petrozavodsk, Yuri Gromov, the object “gradually assumed the shape of an elliptical ring”. It then began moving once more, heading into a bank of nearby clouds in the direction of Onezskoe Lake. As it went into the clouds, it left behind a red hole, as if the clouds had been burned, which remained for several minutes.

Later investigations would show that there were no records of any aircraft over the skies of the town on the night in question, and Gromov dismissed that it could be ball lightning or any other atmospheric phenomena.

Gromov would further offer that it was “either a UFO, the messenger of a higher intelligence with crew and passengers, or a field of energy that came from a UFO”. In short, according to Gromov, there was no natural explanation for what hundreds, if not thousands of people had seen that autumn evening.

Multiple Letters Of Concern (That Went Unpublished)

In the weeks that followed the events over Petrozavodsk, the TASS news agency would receive in excess of 1,500 letters from concerned citizens. And most of them expressed deep worry about the incident, and if it might happen again, with many even questioning how safe residents of the area actually were. Others contemplated if radiation levels might be higher since the incident.

It would appear, at least according to retrospective investigations, that many of these concerns went unreported. Although the letters are to be found in the TASS archives, it appears that government officials forbid the news agency from reporting on it further. In fact, there was to be no further mention of the bizarre events of that night.

However, behind closed doors, scientists were asked to investigate the incident discreetly and out of the public eye. And this information would eventually be leaked into the public arena, particularly so after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

A depiction of a UFO

was there a cover-up in place?

One published who had particularly good government sources for many years, including at the time of the incident, was Vasil Zakharchenko. He claimed that the holes in the ground and windowsills were around the size of a typical coin. Of more interest, those in the windowsill had resulted in the nearby glass melting. One such window in a factory had become twisted in such a bizarre way that it was removed by authorities and taken for analysis.

According to a lecture given by Dr. Azhazha in late 1981, it wasn’t only the glass that showed signs of melting at many of the properties such holes were discovered, but there was significant distortion to the windows themselves. Of further interest, when this glass was inspected under an electron microscope, they discovered a “crystalline structure on the surface of the non-crystalline glass”, something thing which scientists claimed should have been impossible. Some of those who examined the data of the analysis reasoned that the only rational explanation was that the objects were “active”.

An Incident Caused By “Still Unknown Natural Atmospheric Phenomenon!”

According to further reports, samples of the glass were allowed to be analyzed by scientists and other interested parties in the West some time later. One of the first to do this was Dr. Dale Cruikshank, as well as sociologist David Swift – both of the University of Hawaii. They each traveled to the Academy of Sciences in Moscow in order to examine several samples. They too confirmed the presence of crystalline around the edges of the holes. When Professor Manfred Kage of the Institute for Scientific Photography at Schloss Weissenstein in Stuttgart would come to similar conclusions after the studies samples of the glass.

As news of the incident leaked out around the scientific community, there appears to have been a general interest in examining the most baffling events of that evening in Petrozavodsk. An official, while a discreet study of the incident was set up by the president of the Academy of Sciences and an intense study of the events went ahead. Ultimately, however, the conclusions were that the events and the holes that appeared as a result of the light beams were caused by “still unknown natural atmospheric phenomenon, possibly in connection with human technology, for instance, a rocket launch”.

A depiction of a UFO

There was plenty of evidence of the incident left behind

Although many researchers have rejected the notion that the sighting was simply the result of a rocket launch, it is still probably worth our time examining the phenomenon of “space jellyfish” that are often reported around the same time as rocket launches.

This is caused by sunlight that reflects from the rocket plumes at very high altitude, and we should note that there have been many UFO sightings over the years that have indeed been proven to be the result of a nearby rocket launch. However, there was something about this incident that made the explanation not quite sit right.

An Explanation That Doesn’t Offer A Satisfactory Explanation

While some in the UFO community would perhaps be suspicious of such conclusions, there does appear to have been a rocket launch on the morning in question, which was set in motion at 4:03 am, two minutes before residents of the town first noticed the bizarre aerial display. In Plesetsk, around 200 miles away from Petrozavodsk, the spy satellite, Cosmos 955 was launched. However, when the possibility of the satellite being the cause of what residents of the town witnessed was examined, it appeared unlikely at best.

For example, this launch was unlikely to have given the appearance of a jellyfish-like object, and it certainly wouldn’t explain why the object appeared to get larger and even come closer before then hovering in place for several minutes before moving off once more. It also wouldn’t satisfactorily explain the tentacle-like light beams that were witnessed by multiple people. Perhaps most of all, it wouldn’t offer an explanation for the many holes and melted glass and window frames that were also discovered.

In short, in the eyes of many, particularly those who saw the events with their own eyes, the encounter remained unexplained. That wouldn’t, though, be the end of the matter.

Many Witnessed And A Definite Route

The person who was part in charge of overseeing the investigation into the strange events of Petrozavodsk, W. Migulin, himself disagreed with the findings, and was not entirely happy with how it had progressed.

He would state in an interview with the Soviet newspaper, The Week, that there had been “insufficient investigation” of the incident and that the findings were essentially, flawed.

Migulin did reveal some intriguing findings, though, including that they had managed to put together a route that the object took – and it had gone further than most initially realized. According to official records, between 3:06 am and 3:10 am, a “bright ball of fire” was witnessed by police officers in Helsinki, the capital of Finland. The glowing orb-like object hovered over the airport for just under five minutes before heading east. Even more amazing, radar operators at the control tower of Helsinki Airport also reported the anomaly.

Around 20 minutes later, another witness in Namoyevo, which is around 20 miles northwest of Petrozavodsk, saw the bizarre object through his telescope. He would state that it was “lens-shaped” and appeared to shine a violet color. It also appeared to be “surrounded by a shining ring” and had “bright pulsated rays of light” coming from it that appeared “like the tentacles of a jellyfish”.

Ten minutes after that, at around 3:30 am, several fishermen on Onezskoe Lake reported seeing the bright light moving through the sky. The object was unlike anything they had ever seen, and appeared to be “surrounded by a strange haze”. At 4 am, several employees of the Pulkovo Observatory witnessed a “ball of fire” move across the sky, while at approximately the same time, a pilot flying a passenger plane from Kyiv to Leningrad also witnessed the strange object.

As the object disappeared out of sight from Petrozavodsk, many people witnessed it moving across the sky, with several in Polovina reporting seeing the clouds suddenly light up, as if a light was traveling through them and making them glow from the inside.

Not As Easy To Dismiss As Some Might Wish

Just what was witnessed by multiple residents of Petrozavodsk in the early hours of that September morning in 1977? Although the suggestions that the residents of the town witnessed the aftereffects of a rocket launch are perhaps not as suspicious as we might think, we still have to highlight that most people described something a little more out of the ordinary.

If it had just been the appearance of tentacles that were witnessed, then it might be tempting to dismiss the incident as nothing but the space jellyfish phenomenon. And it just might be that this was witnessed, but that the UFO and the beams reaching to the ground were there independently.

Due to the sightings of the object, across many locations across Finland and Russia, as well as the fact that many witnesses saw the object stop, hover, and them take off again, we have to assume that what was seen was almost certainly a solid object that was much lower to the ground than an ascending rocket. Indeed, the fact that the object appeared to get closer, larger, and brighter would also seemingly attest to this.

There are also the feelings that many witnesses reported of feeling as though an “electric current” had passed through them shortly after the light beams were sent toward the ground – certainly not the typical reports of those who witness a rocket launch. We might also bring up the bizarre holes and melting of glass that would also suggest something more than mere optical illusion.

Other Sightings Of Jellyfish-Shaped UFOs

It might surprise us to learn that there are other sightings of jellyfish-shaped UFOs on record. And these encounters stretch over time and have occurred in all different parts of the world. And while some of these may indeed be explained as the optical illusion caused by rocket launches, others are not as easy to dismiss in such a manner.

For example, in 2015, Dutch photographer, Harry Perton managed to capture what appeared to be green, jellyfish-shaped UFO overhead while taking pictures of the sunset. [1] To begin with, although he realized he had captured something strange, he thought it was nothing more than a brief bolt of lightning. However, upon examining the pictures more closely, he soon realized he caught something potentially otherworldly.

Despite the interest in his pictures from UFO researchers and enthusiasts, Perton doesn’t believe that what he captured is extraterrestrial in nature and rather something more grounded in science.

A depiction of a UFO

There are many sightings of jellyfish UFOs around the world

Perhaps one of the most intriguing sightings of jellyfish-shaped UFOs occurred in Scotland on New Year’s Day 2002 when a “huge white ball that glowed” and looked “like a flying jellyfish”. [2] In fact, between 2002 and 2006 there were several similar sightings reported in Scotland, including sightings of “golden spheres” in 2006 witnessed by several residents.

Although there were no reports of tentacles or jellyfish-like shapes, another sighting on the afternoon of 19th February 1994 over Craigluscar Reservoir is also of interest to us here. On the afternoon in question, Ian Macpherson was facing away from the water when he noticed a humming sound that he likened to “high voltage power lines”. At the same time, he felt the atmosphere change somewhat.

As he turned around, he saw a “disc-like object” that was heading in his direction. He claimed it was approximately the same size as a jumbo jet, and had a definite metallic exterior. He could also see several light on the object’s underside. Despite hearing the humming sound, Macpherson claimed the object made no other sound whatsoever. Although he had his camera with him, by the time he had come to his senses the object had passed him by and disappeared into the distance.

It is interesting to note that while the witness didn’t recall seeing tentacles during this particular sighting, the presence of the humming sound, as well as the distinct change of the atmosphere, mirrors the descriptions of many of the witnesses in Russia in 1977.

Jellyfish-Shaped Aliens The Size Of A Football Field?

It is perhaps worth examining the theories put forward in 2012 by British satellite expert and government advisor, Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who claimed that aliens could look something like jellyfish and could be the size of a football field. [3] What’s more, she would base her suggestions on how intelligent alien life might have evolved on somewhere like Titan, one of the moons of Saturn, and, coincidentally or not, one of the places in our solar system where scientists suggest could one day be colonized, and might already contain alien life.

Aderin-Pocock would suggest that these jellyfish-like aliens could drift through the methane clouds of such cosmic bodies, taking chemical nutrients from the air as it went. What’s more, they might even draw energy from the light, similar to photosynthesis. They would also likely be based on silicon as opposed to carbon, which, all life that we are currently aware of are based on.

Perhaps most interestingly, she suggests that these extraterrestrial creatures could communicate using pulses of light.

A depiction of jellyfish aliens

Might aliens look like gian jellyfish?

Aderin-Pocock’s claims might not be as wild as they at first sound. She would explain that she had put forward the suggestions based on what we know of strange life-forms that live in otherwise inhospitable depths of the ocean. She would elaborate that “our imaginations are naturally constrained by what we see around us”, continuing that “conventional wisdom has been that life needs water and is carbon-based”. However, given that silicon is “just below carbon in the periodic table”, combined with some similar chemicals, as well as the fact that it is “widely available in the universe” has led her to believe that an alien entity could indeed be an “inhuman, silicon-based life form”.

If we take Aderin-Pocock’s suggestions a stage further, what if these creatures could somehow exist and travel in space? Might it be that at least some of the jellyfish UFO sightings on record, perhaps including the sighting over Petrozavodsk, might be of extraterrestrial creatures themselves as opposed to alien vehicles?

Admittedly such a suggestion appears preposterous on the surface. However, many UFO researchers have come to the conclusion that UFOs, at least some of them, might not be extraterrestrial vehicles but organic, living creatures.

Bizarre Phenomena Or Visitors From Another World?

Like many UFO sightings we examine retrospectively we should always reserve the right to treat such incidents with a pinch of salt. However, in this case, there appears to be much more to the sighting then the aftereffects of a rocket launch. We have already mentioned that as well as the tentacle-like lights witnessed by those in the town, a solid object was seen moving and stopping on several occasions. Furthermore, a smaller drone-like craft was also witnessed leaving this main craft before seemingly surveying the town and then returning.

It would appear there are two possibilities that require further study. Perhaps, for example, the craft was some kind of secret Soviet technology that was being tested in the early hours of the night. If this is the case, then we would have to ask for what purpose was this craft built? Was it designed to potentially spy on western populations? And what was the origin of this seemingly advanced craft? Was it down to Soviet ingenuity or might it be the result of reverse-engineered alien technology?

Or perhaps the craft was of extraterrestrial origin and is yet another example of visitors from another world visiting our planet and make their way through the planet’s skies for reasons unknown. We might take note that the object appeared to disappear in the direction of the lake. We know that many UFO sightings take place over or near water, and there are many such sightings near the lakes and seas around Russia and the (then) Soviet Union. Indeed, we might ask if this object actually came and disappeared back into these water networks as opposed to arriving and disappearing back into the far reaches of space.

What is certain is the incident remains of interest to those in UFO circles over four decades after it occurred. And it will likely continue to do so for some time, or until a solid explanation is put forward that explains that most mysterious autumn night in the later 1970s.

Check out the video below which looks at some of the most intriguing UFO sightings in history.


1 Stunning ‘Jellyfish’ UFO Caught On Camera By Dutch Photographer, Huffington Post
2 UFO Files: Huge Flying Jellyfish Spotted Over Scotland, The Scotman, August 10th, 2011
3 Aliens could resemble jellyfish the size of a football field says government advisor, Independent

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

Fact Checking/Disclaimer

Fact Checking

The stories, accounts, and discussions in this article may go against currently accepted science and common beliefs. The details included in the article are based on the reports, accounts and documentation available as provided by witnesses and publications - sources/references are published above.

We do not aim to prove nor disprove any of the theories, cases, or reports.  You should read this article with an open mind and come to a conclusion yourself.  Our motto always is, "you make up your own mind".  Read more about how we fact-check content here.

Copyright & Republishing Policy

The entire article and the contents within are published by, wholly-owned and copyright of UFO Insight.  The author does not own the rights to this content. 

You may republish short quotes from this article with a reference back to the original UFO Insight article here as the source. You may not republish the article in its entirety.

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to our free newsletter and join our subscribers. Receive the latest articles directly in your inbox weekly.

If you don't like what you read, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.