Mysterious Garden Gnomes Standing at Bottom of Lake Startle Diver: 'Cursed'

One man's unusual discovery during a diving trip shocked the internet after he shared it on the subreddit r/submechanophobia.

William Fang—who was born in China but now lives in Switzerland and Singapore—captured the bizarre footage on a night dive in Switzerland.

Fang was filming his dive in a 143-meter-deep lake when he stumbled upon two slightly disturbing gnomes in the water, at a depth of around 15-20 meters.

He told Newsweek: "I was just performing a regular night dive session when I saw these creepy things. I was shocked for a second…you can hear my deep breath in the video when I saw it."

Gnomes found in water of Lake Zürich
A still from the video that has terrified the internet showing a diver discovering the two figures underwater during a night dive. William Fang

Reddit users rushed to the comments to share their thoughts on the unnerving discovery. One said: "My brave person, you go diving at night—I'm surprised anything scares you."

"Diving at night? Do you need gnomes to scare you? That's a hard no from me," said another Redditor.

One commenter suggested: "Maybe a reference to the Gnomes of Zurich?"

"Gnomes of Zurich" is a slang term for Swiss bankers popularized in the 1960s in the United Kingdom when government officials began using the term. This followed a crisis meeting where politicians blamed Swiss bankers for raising speculation against the British pound causing its value to fall.

Unlike the image of friendly garden ornaments, these gnomes were meant to invoke ideas of medieval fairy tale creatures who lived underground and hoarded gold. The phrase was later picked up by Americans when the Wall Street Journal mentioned Zurich gnomes alongside the military-industrial complex and the establishment of the Illuminati.

"Well, congrats on being cursed now, I guess," joked one commenter on the Reddit post.

The mystery of the unusual underwater discovery remains unsolved.

"I've no idea," said Fang when asked how the gnomes came to be at the bottom of a lake. "I guess it's probably a prank by other divers."

One viewer of the video left a comment that may provide an answer: "I just found out that this is like a running joke with divers—to plant garden gnomes in bodies of water for other divers to find."

Indeed, this isn't the first story of gnomes being found underwater. In 2012, BBC News reported on gnomes found in the depths of a lake in the U.K.'s Lake District.

Long-time dive teacher Gordon Mackie told the BBC that the gnomes are a "good laugh," and said: "If you take gnomes seriously then it's a bit of a problem."

In the U.K., the gnomes were eventually removed by police divers to prevent people looking for them—but were quickly replaced by other divers.

Another Reddit user noted a reference to the practice in popular culture, too: "I guess that's where the devs of Fallout 4 got the great idea to stick gnomes underwater in certain spots of the map."

But many viewers of the video were adamant that they would not be heading out to look for the garden statues anytime soon.

"You managed to combine all my fears. Gnomes. Dark water, and submerged things," said one comment, while another Redditor wrote: "This would have terrified me. I would have swam to the shore, collected my things, then boarded the next flight home."