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Wednesday 30 January 2013

1855 Nova Scotia Sea Serpent Sighting

From the Facebook page Strange World,!/strngeworld

Beadle’s Monthly carried a startling feature in November 1866: two drawings of a “great sea-monster” witnessed by the author, Jesse H. Lord, during a visit to Green Harbor, Nova Scotia, in August 1855. Lord recalled that he had just arrived... in town when he found the townspeople in a great commotion over “the snake.” Presently he saw a monster emerge from the sea, pursuing boats through a channel and into the harbor:
Near what might be the head, rose a hump, or crest, crowned with a waving mass of long pendulous hair like a mane, while behind, for forty or fifty feet, slowly moved, or rolled, the spirals of his immense snake-like body. The movement was in vertical curves, the contortions of the back alternately rising and falling from the head to the tail, leaving behind a wake, like that of a screw-steamer, on the glassy surface of the ocean. … In a moment he raised his head, from which the water poured in showers, and opening the horrid jaws he gave utterance to a noise resembling nothing so much as the hissing sound of steam from the escape-pipe of a boiler.
The beast withdrew, but Lord glimpsed it again beneath his rowboat the following morning:
The tide was ‘making,’ and the serpent lay head to the current, which was flowing into the harbor, keeping up an undulatory movement just sufficient to retain his position. The shell-like head was just abaft the stern of the boat and the immense mane flowed wavingly, either by the motion of the current or the convolutions of the body. … Hethcote moved silently to the stern and cut the rope that held the ‘kilick,’ and we drifted quietly with the tide into the harbor.
Lord was a journalist, not a short story writer, and Beadle’s presented his tale without a wink. But it seems most likely a simple hoax — why would a newsman withhold such a sensational story for 11 years? Unfortunately, we’ll never know the whole story: A few days after the article appeared, Lord shot himself on his wife’s grave.

Heuvelmans does not include this report in his book In The Wake of the Sea-Serpents, but he does mention several other repots around Nova Scotia in the 1850s. One of them was the very unusual "Marine Dimetrodon" that Heuvelmans could not classify, and another was a "Water Horse" no more than 16 feet long and 2 feet thick, seen by a father and son as it was coming on to the land. (William and Henry Crooks, page 232). It was thought to be propelled by four limbs underneath. Heuvelmans counts this as a "Longneck" (same as the Loch Ness Monster) but in fact a moose can be in the range of 12 feet long and 2 1/2 to 3 feet thick at the belly, and that part would have been harder to judge on a swimming animal. I am willing to say that all of these sightings except the problematic "Marine Dimetrodon" were swimming mooses, typically generating a wake of 50 feet long as a "String-of-buoys." The "Marine Dimetrodon" was probably a kind of fish and exaggerated (as Heuvelmans notes there are contradictory aspects to the description) and perhaps it is better to assume it is an Oarfish until and unless better evidence is uncovered.
Lord's sea-serpent would have been unrecognisable except that the illustration clearly and prominently shows the beard or "Bell" characteristic of the moose under its lower jaw.
Advertisement for sculpture, very good for scale.

Moose in Grand Teton National Park. I had mentioned earlier in reference to the Von Ferry sighting of 1746 that a moose could have a contrasting white mane, and here is a photo of one such example.

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