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Friday, January 8, 2016

Serpents of the Sea

Sea Serpent attacking a ship…
do they exist?

While they really aren't talked about that much in cryptozoology today, sea serpents were once reported quite frequently. Now, some old reports from sailors definetly are misidentifications, or they could have been seeing an animal that we know exists, now, but didn't know existed back then.

I do think some sea serpent reports, however, are genuine accounts of unknown animals.

To start off this article, let's check out some old sea serpent reports.

HANS EGEDE


Sea Serpent described by Hans Egede

On July 6, 1734, Hans Egede, a missionary from Greenland, was sailing past the coast of that country when he spotted a "most terrible creature." Egede said it was like nothing anyone on board had ever seen. He described the encounter:

"The monster lifted its head so high it seemed to be higher than the crow's nest or mainmast. The head was small and the body short and wrinkled. The unknown creature was using giant fins which propelled it through the water. Later the sailors saw its tail as well. The monster was longer than our whole ship."

Egede also said the monster "spouted like a whale-fish."

Some have speculated that Egede and his crew did not see an unknown monster, but a giant squid.
Another drawing of the Sea Serpent


THE SERPENT OF GLOUCESTER

In 1817, a monster was frequently spotted in the harbor of Gloucester, Massachusetts. That year many sightings of the "Gloucester Sea Serpent" occurred, but they may go all the way back to the 1600s.

Nick Redfern notes in a Mysterious Universe article on the subject that "So far as can be determined, the earliest sighting of the Gloucester Sea Serpent dates from 1638. The witness was a man named John Josselyn, who said: 'They told me of a sea serpent, or snake, that lay qouiled [sic] up like a cable under the rock at Cape Ann; a boat passing by with English on board, and two Indians, they would have shot the serpent, but the Indians dissuaded them, saying that if he were not killed outright, they would all be in danger of their lives."

Another sighting of a sea monster occurred shortly after that, but the well known sightings occurred almost 200 years later.
Gloucester Sea Serpent

On August 10, 1817, Amos Story spotted the Gloucester serpent "between the hours of twelve and one o'clock."

"I was setting on the shore, and was about twenty rods from him when he was the nearest to me. His head appeared shaped much like that of the sea turtle, and he carried his head from ten to twelve inches above the surface of the water. His head at that distance appeared larger than the head of any dog I ever saw. From the back of his head to the next part of him that was visible, I should judge to be three or four feet. He moved very rapidly through the water, I should say a mile or two or, at most, in three minutes. I saw no bunches on his back. On this day, I did not see more than ten or twelve feet of his body."

Lots of sightings followed. Once, someone even found something on the shore, thought to be a "baby sea serpent!" The Linnean Society of New England examined the dead animal, which looked like a black snake with three humps on its back. They published an article about it in their journal, saying it was a baby sea monster.

One French naturalist looked at the pictures they had published of the "baby serpent" and said it looked like it was only a normal snake with some weird growths on its back. When the animal was examined again, and more closely, that's exactly what it turned out to be.

Just because there was only a snake on the shore doesn't mean that the sightings of the large sea serpent, which some people said had thirteen to fourteen humps on its back, weren't true.

THE DAEDALUS SIGHTING

The HMS (Her Majesty's Ship) Daedalus was a warship of the Royal Navy first launched in 1826.

In 1848, the crew of the Daedalus recorded one of the most famous sea serpent sightings ever.

On August 6, Captain Peter M'Quhae and the crew spotted the monster near the Cape of Good Hope, off the coast of Africa. The witnesses said the animal had four feet of head/neck above water, and they estimated that another sixty was below the surface.
Daedalus sighting

Captain M'Quhae commented on how close the "enormous serpent" was to the Daedalus, saying:

"The creature passed rapidly, but so close under our lee quarter, that had it been a man of my acquaintance I should have easily recognized his features with the naked eye."

The crew watched the creature for about twenty minutes. Some thought it was "more of a lizard than a serpent." Sir Richard Owen, the man who named dinosaurs, thought the crew had seen a giant seal. Evolutionary biologist Gary J. Galbreath thinks the crew saw a sei whale.

If the monster was really as close to the ship as Captain M'Quhae said, and the crew really had such a good view, I think that they really saw a sea serpent.



THE VALHALLA

Sea Serpent sightings continued into the 20th century. In 1905, two naturalists, Michael J. Nicoll and E. G. B. Meade-Waldo, spotted something while on a scientific cruise aboard the yacht Valhalla. While off the coast of Brazil, Nicoll and Meade-Waldo spotted a creature with a long neck, turtle-like head, and a dorsal fin that was squarish of ribbon-like.

The two scientists both agreed that they had just seen the "great sea serpent," but they couldn't agree on what type of animal it was. One thought the creature was a mammal, because the mouth did not extend past the eye like with a reptile. The other thought it was a reptile because of the turtle-like head.
Bernard Heuvelmans

Bernard Heuvelmans also thought that the Valhalla creature was some sort of mammal. Others have suggested that it was a giant squid, swimming with one arm and fin visible above the surface! (I think that idea is ridiculous. If it was a squid with one arm above the surface mistaken for a head, it would have to be moving Backwards!)

SOME OTHER REPORTS

Encounters at Kilkee

In 1850, a sea serpent was seen "sunning itself near the Clare coast off Kilkee," in County Clare, Ireland. Another was seen near Kilkee in 1871, described as a "large and frightening sea monster." The people that saw it "all had their nerves considerably upset by the dreadful appearance of this extraordinary creature."

The Umfuli

In 1893, Captain Cringle of the ship Umfuli saw a sea serpent off the Cape of Good Hope, the same area of the Daedalus sighting. The crew watched the serpent for half-an-hour through field glasses. The captain's mate described the encounter in the ship's log, saying that the creature was shaped like a conger eel, but was 80 feet long. The sighting occurred in calm water. Captain Cringle was so worried about being laughed at after the encounter that he didn't tell anyone about it for 35 years.

A Halloween Sea Serpent? 

A more recent sighting occurred on October 31, 1983, off Stinson Beach, north of San Francisco, California. A construction crew doing cliffside roadwork spotted a serpent 100 yards offshore and less than a quarter mile away. Matt Ratto, a witness, said:


"The body came out of the water first. It was black with three humps, there were three bends like humps and they rose straight up."

Ratta made a sketch of the creature showing a snake-like creature with a blunt nose and three coils out of the water.

Steve Bjora, another witness, said:

"The sucker was going 45 to 50 miles an hour. It was clipping. It was boogying. It looked like a long eel."

Marlene Martin said:

"It shocked the hell out of me. That thing's so big he deserves from page coverage. It was hard to describe how big it was. I have no creative imagination. It was a snake-like thing that arched itself up and was so long it made humps above the water. It had a wake as big as a power boat's and it was going about 65 miles per hour. It looked like a great big rubber hose as it moved. If someone had gotten in its way it would have plowed right through them."

Martin saw the creature lift its head out of the water and open its mouth before it submerged. "It was like it was playing."

Martin said the animal was:

"A giant snake or a dragon, with a mouth like an alligators. It was at least 15 or 20 feet in circumference, but it was hard to tell how long it was. I mean, how long is a snake? He should have the whole damn ocean. It's his territory. He's the king of the sea!"

Did the workers really see a gigantic sea serpent, or is their sighting just a Halloween prank?

CARCASSES



Since I already have a long post about carcasses of supposed "sea serpents," I will not expand on the subject here.

You can see the post fully about "sea serpent" carcasses here.

SEA SERPENTS TODAY

Looking on cryptozoology sites today, you really don't find that much on sea serpents. I have posts about them on here every once and a while, but like other sites, most of the news here involves Bigfoot.

Sea serpents aren't, I think, seen as much today as they were in the pass. Some people think that is because ships today, powered by engines, are too noisy. Two hundred years ago or so, they would have had sails, and would have been quiet. Sea serpents today might be scared of noisy ships.

Some old sea serpent sightings must also be misidentifications, or the witnesses honestly didn't know what they were seeing, but the animal is already recognized by science. I do think, however, that the reports in this article are of genuine sea serpents.

We know more about the moon than about what lives at the bottom of the sea. There's got to be some big surprises down there.

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