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Saturday, September 3, 2016

Wessie Update: Mystery Snake Skin is from an Anaconda, "Where's Wessie" Shirts

Wessie, the giant mystery snake of Westbrook, Maine was first reported in late June. Since that time there have been a number of sightings and many people have searched for the snake. In August, possible evidence was found in the form of a huge (about 12 ft.) snakeskin along the Presumpscot River.

The snake skin

John Placyk, a herpetologist at the University of Texas, ran DNA tests on the skin and found that it was from an anaconda. The exact species is the green anaconda, Eunectes murinus. Snake skin can stretch, so it is thought that the snake itself is about 8-9 feet long, which would fit with eyewitness descriptions (which usually say it is about 10 feet). The Westbrook police still do not know if the skin was planted along the river as a hoax or if it really is from Wessie.
Loren Coleman, director of the International Cryptozoology Museum

The International Cryptozoology Museum has offered assistance in the search for the snake, Jaed Coffin recently wrote an article on the mystery snake that was published in Down East Magazine.

"On a recent summer afternoon, Loren Coleman, the world's leading cryptozoologist and author of more than 40 books on the likes of bigfoot, sea monsters, and chupacabras, walked along the banks of the Presumpscot River in downtown Westbrook, scanning the dense vegetation for a 10-foot-long, beaver-eating snake with a  head the size of a soccer ball. Three weeks prior, an anonymous eyewitness reported sightings the giant snake, and others had since come forward, including two police officers who shot a blurry, predawn video of it swimming across the river. Locals have taken to calling the elusive snake 'Wessie.'
"'Seen any snakes lately?' Coleman asked a couple with a stroller.
"The mother shook her head. 'There's no snake!' she yelled over her shoulder, walking away. Coleman shrugged.
"'Skepticism can be high with people with kids.'
"Coleman's used to being brushed off, and he himself often doubts the true believers. 'I'm somewhere in the middle,' he said. 'Skeptical but open-minded.' In Maine, Coleman's well known for founding Portland's International Crytozoology Museum, recently reopened in the trendy multi-use development at Thompson's Point. He has a background in anthropology and psychology, so he takes particular interest in the pop culture that surrounds phenomena like Wessie - now the possessor of a Twitter handle, subject of a folk song, and name of a beer at a Westbrook brewery. 'I expect to see t-shirts soon,' Coleman said.
"He peered down from a footbridge upstream of Westbrook's SAPPI paper mill. 'Nice little river,' he said. 'Lots of ducks.'
 "Many have taken solace in the fact that Wessie will likely freeze to death come winter, but Coleman wonders if the mill's warm outflow might keep the snake alive. As a boy in Decatur, Illinois, he heard reports of rouge alligators swimming near the corn mill downtown; ever since, he's devoted himself to what he considers the true goal of cryptozoology: discovering new species. He's wary of news media's tendency to sensationalize obvious hoaxes. As for Wessie's seemingly legitimate case: 'This one fells uncomfortable for the media,' he said. 'They got very involved in it. They did morning reports, evening reports, reports every hour. Now, they're left holding the bag.' He added, 'Unless there's a dead one found, or - Heaven forbid! - a dog gets snatched, we're probably not going to hear anything else.'
"As Coleman made his way back to his car - his custom plates read CRYPTO1 - he noted the sign at a Subway sandwich shop, which used to as 'HAVE YOU SEEN WESSIE THE SNAKE?' Now, it simply read: 'MAKE IT  A WRAP.'
"He shrugged. 'Well, it's over. Wessie-mania has officially left Westbrook.'"

Has "Wessie-mania" left, as Coleman thinks? Maybe a bit, but I'll keep updating things if there is any more news.

And, the International Cryptozoology Museum store is selling "Where's Wessie?" t-shirts. You can get them here.

Where's Wessie?

If you're ever in Westbrook, keep an eye open for Wessie!

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