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Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Sea Elephants

I happened across Cryptozoologist's Myspace page and I found something either very different and very important, or else the result of a collossal misunderstanding of the printed text.

Cryptozoologist references a posting on the Unsolved-Mysteries message board, which in turn references a couple of articles that have subsequently been deleted at American Monsters:

Hailing from the vast subcontinent of India are tales of a bizarre, marine mammal known as the Makara. Often associated woth the Gambian SEA-ELEPHANT, these creatures are said to have the head of an elephant (with the exception of a few pieces of early art, where its features were depicted as those of a crocodile or antelope) attached to the body of a gigantic fish. Many investigators feel that this HYBRID-BEAST may well represent the most unique sub-species of mer-animal that we here at American Monsters have ever encountered.

Dwelling in the Indian Ocean, the Makara is traditionally looked upon as a powerful deity, which - much like the notorious SEA-SERPENT - was capable of harming or guarding seafarers, depending upon its whims. Many scholars naturally assume that the tales of the Makara are nothing more than myths based upon ancient eyewitness accounts of Indian elephants swimming off the coast, as they are sometimes known to do.

This having been said, there are some researchers who have suggested that the Makara may be, in fact, a unique species of aquatic Pachyderm like the Congolese WATER ELEPHANT, which supposedly took to the seas at about the same time that ancient cetaceans were sacrificing their legs in favor of flippers.

Still other fortean researchers have been compelled to look across the vast stretch of the Indian Ocean towards South Africa, where, in 1922, a large, hairy, aquatic animal, bearing an elephantine trunk (known, of course, as TRUNKO) washed up on the shores of Margate beach in the KwaZulu-Natal area. These researchers have speculated that this, as yet unidentified, animal - which has been encountered throughout the southern hemisphere - may be responsible for the legends of the Makara.

Often sighted off the coast of Gambia, these aquatic-elephants have been seen by numerous eyewitnesses throughout the East African seaboard. Ostensibly related to the Indian MAKARA, there have been numerous researchers who have suggested that this unique species of marine proboscideans is more likely than not responsible for the dramatic events surrounding the infamous 1922, TRUNKO encounter.

It has also been suggested that these creatures may be responsible washing up on shores across the globe, two notable examples of this phenomenon being the now famous QUEENSLAND CARCASS and the New York Times acknowledged, GLACIER ISLAND CARCASS. Still other researchers have indicated potential connections between these creatures and the Congolese WATER ELEPHANTS.

The Congolese jungles have produced yet another quasi-aquatic cryptid (which no doubt was, at one time or another, referred to as MOKELE-M'BEMBE). Thought to be a relic species of the FORMERLY-EXTINCT, shovel tusked elephant known as the Platybeledont, this animal has been reported throughout the region which was formerly known as the French Congo.

Much like the Indian MAKARA, the east African SEA-ELEPHANT, and the cadres of TRUNKO-like carcasses which have washed up on beaches all over the world, investigators theorize that these intriguing pachyderms probably formed their own Darwinian off shoot millions of years ago and - much like the land locked Cetaceans of the era - may have evolved into aquatic mammals.

Posted 30 July 2005 - 08:45 PM by dragonlady-mothman

Now there is automatically a confusion as to whether we are talking East Africa or West Africa, since Gambia is on the west coast and the article consistently says 'East.' And after that I get a very strong feeling that somebody has mistaken Gambo for being a type of Trunko based on a not-too-careful reading of Karl Shuker's books (I have a couple of his books that mention Gambo and Trunko in the same passage of text. They are both unidentified 'Sea Monster corpses but otherwise nothing alike').

The captions on the illustrations are also all mixed up. The illustration of an Indian Makara is mis-labelled as a Gambian Sea-Elephant and the illustration for the Australian Brungle Creek carcass is mis-labelled 'Trunko.'

Indian Makara, from Heuvelmans's In The Wake of the Sea Serpents

Photograph of Brungle Creek, Australia, where an unusual "Bunyip" body was reported.

Reconstruction of Brungle Creek Carcass (NOT Trunko)

Indian Makara, looking unusually seal-like

Indian Makara Left, Elephant Seal Below

Indian Makara Frieze in Relief

Cryptozoologist includes the best solution within the article already, that all of these peculiar reports come from sightings (and corpses) of stray elephant seals.
Above is Cryptozoologist's illustration of such a seal.

In this he seems to have stumbled onto a secondary mystery: the Elephant seal (cryptid) was originally reported in the North Atlantic at about the end of the Middle Ages. Elephant seals are not supposed to live there, so how could they be reported there? If Atlantic elephant seals are still being reported off of Gambia and the Cape Verde Islands (I can allow that possibility from other reports), that could be the general area where they once had a breeding colony (they seem to have had one near Trinidad from other reports if they are the basis of stories about the Huilla). But the basic question remains, IS this a legitimate category of cryptid living off of Gambia and reported regularly up until recently, or has somebody made one huge mistake in thinking so and then is that person is passing bad info on to Cryptozoologist and the rest of us?

Nevertheless, I also include the map. And I'll allow 'Three-toes' off of South and East Africa would then also be a 'Makara.' There is at least one report off Zanzibar and reported in PURSUIT, which compares its body to a hippopotamus, only described it as swimming out at sea.


  1. A reader of this blog sent me a private email in which he does state that there definitely is a Native tradition about a type of Water-Elephant living around Gambia, both in Freshwater and in Saltwater, but he says he does not know what its native name is nor can he direct me to any written sources that I could cite as reference. So that is how the situation remains.


    Found a little more info that might be helpful and have included the link above.

    Also, there is a species of manatee called the DuQuong that could easily be mistaken for this animal.

  3. this reminds me of the Pictish "Beastie" which would clearly place them in the North Atlantic in the dark and middle ages.

  4. this reminds me of the pictish beastie very clearly. which would place them in the north atlantic during the Dark and middle ages.

  5. Do you think the water elephants of Zaire could be a surviving moerotherium?

    Best Wishes,

    Noah Eckenrode,

    Amateur Cryptozoologists

  6. The smaller Water elephants reported in the arera of Lake Tele are more likely the smaller form of forest elephants and reports tend to intergrade into the "Pygmy elephant" category. Both of them have short straight tusks that tend to be directed in a downward angle, and that does not sound like Moerotheres. I think Ivan T. Sanderson is the one who mentioned Morerotheres, Bernard Heuvelmans suggested a small kind of Deinothere instead


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