A rescue operation was launched after reports of a parachutist in the sea – but it turned out to just be a Spider-Man balloon.
The alarm was raised about someone in the sea at Ryhope Dene shortly after 3.30pm on Sunday.
Two RNLI lifeboats, the Sunderland and Seaham Coastguard teams and the Coastguard rescue helicopter were then called out.
The superhero balloon was then recovered from the sea.
An RNLI spokesman said: “On arrival, Coastguard officers spoke to the first informant, who pointed out the object some distance out to sea.
“Using binoculars they managed to identify the object as a Spider-Man balloon.
“The balloon was recovered by the lifeboat to prevent any further call-outs.
“The incident was a false alarm with good intent and the person did the right thing to call us to confirm no-one was in danger.”