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Sunday, 30 June 2013

Merhorse and Cadborosaurus Again

In the past, people have been making a lot of absurd claims as to what was being see in the Northwest coast area and being called "Cadborosaurus (It seems that historically it was called "Old Reliable" in earlier periods) The original idea was that it was a long noodle that swam above-and-below the surface in "Loops" and several of the reports actually stated that as if it were a fact. This is actually physically impossible for anything with an anatomy more substantial than a swimming pool inflatable float, it would have to have more of the body underwater. Together with this, the traditional image of the Classical-age Hippocampus influenced the ideas about Sea-serpent and "Water Horse" sightings on both the Eastern and Western coasts of North America. Heuvelmans' Merhorse can be taken as basically a transcription of the Hippocampus into an attempted Scientific description.

The "Cadborosaurus" image (Together with its inland analogue, Ogopogo) was a recognition that a significant number of sightings featured hair-covered creatures that had horselike or camel-like heads, obviously ungulate-type heads with large round nostrils at the end of the blunt snout and a distinctly overhanging upper lip. Other frequently-observed features included floppy ears, beards or bells, manes and short horns, actually the beginning growth of antlers. The eyes were placed in a prominent horselike position at the top of the head, with the bony sockets and skull structure indicated. These are moose heads and the resemblance to moose heads is undeniable (Dick Raynor has told me he was the one that initially made the Cadborosaurus-Moose comparison below,  but I had got it initially from the Cryptomundo site several years ago)

There is little doubt that this entire series of Water Horse sightings has so polluted the public's ideas about "Cadborosaurus" that these reports are usually factored into any composites which are made. Clearly this is a self-evident mistake and all such reports are to be removed from the bulk of the reports in any attempt to see what the "Real" Cadborosaurus reports are like.

Above is a drawing composite of various "Cadborosaurus" witness' drawings made for comparison and posted by Cameron McCormack on the "Lord Geekington" blog: below is my amended version posted on this blog earlier, indicating which reports I thought were swimming moose and which ones were plausible Long Necked Sea Serpent Reports (With the Naden Harbour corpse, a pipefish and a couple of probable Elephant seals also thrown in there for good measure)

This boils down to a series of Plesiosaur-shaped creature reports That are mostly comparable to each other and shown in the composite below.Above are the insets showing a slightly elaborated Swimming Moose report and the 1933 Kemp report from the Chatham Islands (One of the defining Plesiosaur-shaped reports) at center and again at right, the inset showing the presumed appearance of "Cadborosaurus willsi" in life. The Plesiosaur-shaped drawings are all headed in the same direction even if they are drawn slightly disproportionate to each other (I am not certain about the largest head shown here but Im leaving it in because its about the right shape we see elsewhere)

Here is a larger view of the Kemp sighting: Head+neck, body, and tail are approximate thirds of the total length each. It is important to note that the "Mane" in such creatures is definitely the forwatd part of the "Row of spines" further down the back. I take it that the crest is fleshy and not actually composed of either spines or hairs: it is commonly called a "Fin". I believe the fleshy growth comes out in the mating season and is used in mating contests, and that the longer strips of "mane" material on the neck there to be pulled out in ritual combats between the males, providing a nonlethal way for the males to confront each other. The mane is possibly shed or absorbed off-season. Maned individuals are larger (by perhaps another quarter in the length) and have richer coloring with more contrast between the lighter and darker sections of the skin. Like Costello, I support the notion that some males have a ring around the eye, making the eye appear lighter. The females are a duller grey, grey-brown or brown, but the males are a brighter reddish brown or (less commonly) greenish or olive colour" the mane and/or spines on the back are the same colour as the rest of the back. In the off-season (winter) it does seem that male "Cadborosaurus" have a more muted coloration and in general tend to resemble the females more, although they still remain larger. Swimming moose have much the same appearance year-round except when males have the full growth of antlers, and some of the inland Water Horse/Swimming moose reports DO include the moose antlers.
Some of the sightings mention the "Mane" seems to move as if it was all piece and one continuous length like a fin, and the most common comparison is that it looks like seaweed (usually kelp)

All in all the Plesiosaur-shaped creature reports are in good agreement with the composites made by Oudemans, Dinsdale, Sanderson and myself (each independently) especially in the head and neck (Once again it is confirmed that Oudemans allowed too much length for the tail, although some "Cadborosaurs" do seem to have much longer tails than others) The "Cadborosaurus" reconstruction is completely inadequate to account for a very long neck, a very bulky body or a very small head in combination with either a very long neck or a very bulky body.

NOTE: in his criticism of my identification of some of these reports as swimming moose, Jay Cooney said that moose do not occur in the Vancouver area. In this he was wrong because my range-maps show that it DOES occur in that area, one of the few parts of  British Columbia where the moose  range goes down to the coast, and they could very easily be seen swimming in the Georgia Straits adjoining, and around the various smaller islands along that coastline.

Please see the earlier discussions on "Cadborosaurus" on this blog:
The following information is from George Eberhart, Mysterious Creatures, 2002:
Sea Monster of t he coast of British Columbia, Canada.
Etymology: Name popularized if not coined October 11, 1933, by Victoria (B.C.) Daily Times edit or Archie H. Wills after repeated sightings in Cadboro Bay, British Columbia. Short form of Cadborosaurus, coined at the same time.
Variant names: Amy, Cadborosaurus, Edizgiganteus (after Ediz Hook Light , Washington), Haietluk, Klamahsosaurus (on Texada Island), Penda (after Pender Island). Scientific name: Cadborosaurus willsi, proposed by Edwar d L. Bousfield and Paul H. LeBlond in 1995.
Physical description: Serpentine body that forms many humps or loops. Length, 16–100 feet . Diameter , 2 feet 6 inches–8 feet . Light brown to black. Small head resembles a sheep, horse, giraffe, or camel. Eyes in the front of the head. Small ears or horns. Pointed tongue. Two rows of fishlike teeth. Mane or fur sometimes reported. Neck is 3–12 feet long, about as thick as an arm. One pair of front flippers. Back sometimes appear s serrated, sometimes smooth. Flat tail is snake-like, fluked or formed from fused back flippers.
Behavior: Does not appear to undulate when it swims. Fast swimming speed, clocked at 40 knot s. Breathes in short pants. Makes whalelike grunt s and hisses. Feeds on herring, salmon, and ducks.
Distribution: British Columbia seacoast , especially around Cadboro Bay and the Strait of Georgia.
Significant sightings: A crew member of t he ship Columbia under American fur trader Capt . Robert Gray was the first to report a Caddy sighting in 1791.
Osmond Fergusson watched a 25-foot animal wit h a long neck near t he Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, on June 26, 1897.
In September 1905 or 1906, Philip H. Welch saw a brown animal with a 6- to 8-foot neck from a distance of 100 yards away in Johnstone Strait . It had two bumps on its head that were 5 inches high and rounded on top.
F. W. Kemp and his wife and son watched an 80-foot maned animal while they were sitting on the Chatham Island beach, British Columbia, on August 10, 1932.
On Sept ember 23, 1933, Dorothea Hooper and a neighbor observed a serpentine animal with a serrated back cavorting in Cadboro Bay about 400 yards distant. It created a commotion in the water as it swam out to sea.
Maj. W. H. Langley and his wife were sailing in Haro Strait on October 1, 1933, when they heard a loud grunt off Chatham Island. They saw the back of a huge, dark-green creature with serrated markings on the top and sides.
Charles F. Eagles sketched a 60-foot animal that he saw in Oak Bay on October 14, 1933. It had crocodile-like spines on it s neck.
On December 3, 1933, Justice of the Peace G. F. Parkyn of Bedwell Harbour was one of twelve people watching from Pender Island as an animal with a large, horselike head and neck gulped down a duck that had just been shot by Cyril Andrews.
In 1936, E. J. Stephenson and his wife and son watched a yellow-and-bluish, 90-foot -long, 3-foot -thick animal crawling over a reef into a lagoon on Saturna Island.
A 10- t o 12-foot carcass of apparently a young Caddy was removed from the stomach of a sperm whale, photographed, and displayed for a while at Naden Harbour whaling station in 1937. The photo shows it stretched out on packing cases. It was about 10 feet long, wit h a camel-like head, traces of flippers, and a paddling tail. The carcass was allegedly shipped off to t he Field Museum in Chicago, but there is no record of it s arrival.
A Canadian naval officer was fishing in an open boat off Esquimalt Harbour in November 1950 when a 30-foot Caddy appeared and created a heavy wash. It swam with an undulating motion using large flipper s on either side. It snapped its teeth together once before it dived after twenty-five seconds.
On Februar y 12, 1953, R. D. Cockburn, C. P. Crawford, and Ron Loach saw an animal with three humps off Qualicum Beach for five minutes. Two other men got into a boat and rowed within 20 feet , but it submerged and reappeared 100 yards away. It s head was dogshaped and had two horns.
In late November 1959, David Miller and Alfred Webb came within 30 feet of an animal with a 10-foot neck sticking straight up out of the water off Discovery Island. It had coarse brown fur , red eyes, and small ears.[The closeness to the creature and its size seem to be exaggerated, since this otherwise sounds very much like another swimming moose report, including the ears]
A 16-inch-long juvenile Caddy was caught in a net by William Hagelund in 1968 off De Courcy Island, but it was thrown back. It had spiny teeth, a saw-toothed ridge of plates along its backbone, and a bilobate tail. A soft , yellow fuzz covered it s under sides.[this is almost certainly a fish]
Mechanical engineer Jim M. Thompson was fishing off Spanish Banks, Vancouver , in January 1984 when an 18- to 22-foot serpentine animal surfaced about 100 feet away. It had a giraffelike head with small stubby horns and floppy ears.
In May 1992, music professor John Celona saw a multihumped animal about 25 feet long while sailing.
Student s Damian Grant and Ryan Green were swimming across Telegraph Bay in May 1994 when they saw a 20-foot animal with two humps.
Possible explanations:
(1) The Nor thern sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) can appear serpentine in the water but only grows to about 10 feet 6 inches long.
(2) The Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) is found in British Columbian waters in the nonbreeding season, but it only measures up to [20] feet long and does not have an elongated neck.
(3) A surviving basilosaurid type of archaic whale, suggested by Roy Mackal and Karl Shuker . Some basilosaur ids were serpentine, grew up t o 80 feet long, and lived in the Late Eocene, about 42 million years ago. They had a tail fluke, but it’s unknown whether it was used primarily for propulsion or steering. They are mainly known from t he eastern United States and Egypt but may have been worldwide in distribution.
(4) An evolved plesiosaur , suggested by Edward Bousfield and Paul LeBlond. This gr oup of long-necked marine reptiles swam with paddlelike limbs and had a body length that varied from 6 t o 46 feet . Plesiosaur fossils are found continuously from t he Middle Triassic, 238 million year s ago, to the Late Cretaceous, 65 million years ago.[With some fossils reported as PostCretaceous]
(5) A decaying Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) might account for the 1937 Naden Harbour carcass. These sharks take on a remarkably plesiosaur -like appearance due to the differential decomposit ion r at es of t heir gill slit s and lower t ail fluke. A 30- foot carcass found in November 1934 by Hugo Sandstrom on Henry Island t urned out t o be a Basking shark.
(6) Some kind of decapod (crayfish or lobster ) has been suggested by Aaron Bauer and Anthony Russell as an explanation for Hagelund’s juvenile Caddy capture in 1968.

Sources: “Yacht smen Tell of Huge Sea Ser pent off Vict or ia,” Victoria (B.C.) Daily Times, Oct ober 5, 1933, p. 1; “The Loch Ness Monst er Paralleled in Canada,” Illustrated London News 184 (Januar y 6, 1934): 8; “A Canadian ‘Monst er ,’” Illustrated London News 185 (December 15, 1934): 1011; Ray Gar dner , “Caddy, King of t he Coast ,” Maclean’s Magazine 63 (June 15, 1950): 24, 42–43; D. Mat t ison, “An 1897 Sea Ser pent Sight ing in t he Queen Char lot t e Islands,” B.C. Historical News 17, no. 2 (1964): 15; Paul H. LeBlond and John Siber t , Observations of Large Unidentified Marine Animals in British Columbia and Adjacent Waters (Vancouver , Canada: Univer sit y of Br it ish Columbia, Inst it ut e of Oceanogr aphy, June 1973); William A. Hagelund, Whalers No More: A History of Whaling on the West Coast (Madeir a Par k, B.C., Canada: Har bour , 1987); Fr eder ic C. Howay, ed., Voyages of the “Columbia” to the Northwest Coast, 1787–1790 and 1790–1793 (Por t land: Or egon Hist or ical Societ y, 1990), p. 249; Penny Par k, “Beast fr om t he Deep Puzzles Zoologist s,” New Scientist 137 (Januar y 23, 1993): 16; Jessica Maxwell, “Seeing Ser pent s,” Pacific Northwest 27 (Apr il 1993): 30–34; Mike Dash, “The Dr agons of Vancouver ,” Fortean Times, no. 70 (August -Sept ember 1993): 46–48; Edwar d L. Bousfield and Paul H. LeBlond, “An Account of Cadborosaurus willsi, New Genus, New Species, a Lar ge Aquat ic Rept ile fr om t he Pacific Coast of Nor t h Amer ica,” Amphipacifica 1, suppl. 1 (1995): 3–25; Paul H. LeBlond and Edwar d L. Bousfield, Cadborosaurus: Survivor from the Deep (Vict or ia, B.C., Canada: Hor sdal and Schubar t , 1995); Aar on M. Bauer and Ant hony P. Russell, “A Living Plesiosaur ? A Cr it ical Assessment of t he Descr ipt ion of Cadborosaurus willsi,” Cryptozoology 12 (1996): 1–18; Dar r en Naish, “Anot her Caddy Car cass?” Cryptozoology Review 2, no. 1 (Summer 1997): 26–29; Paul H. LeBlond, “Caddy: An Updat e,” Crypto Dracontology Special, no. 1 (November 2001): 55–59.

A category of Sea Monster identified by Bernard Heuvelmans.
Scientific name: Halshippus olaimagni, given by Heuvelmans in 1965. Variant names: Hippokampos, Maner.
Physical description: Elongated, with smooth, shiny skin. Length, 15–100 feet, though rarely exceeding 60 feet. Dark-brown or steel-gray to black in northern regions; mahogany in warmer regions. Skin is smooth and shiny, possibly with short fur. Wide, flat, diamond-shaped head [from in front], described as similar to that of a horse, camel, snake, or dog. Head, 3 feet long. Wide mouth, perhaps edged with light-colored lips. Has whiskery bristles like a mustache. Enormous, forward-pointing, black eyes. Slender neck, 10 feet long or more. Often, a long, flowing, reddish[?] mane hangs down its neck. Jagged crest on the back. Pair of frontal flippers. Possibly a hind pair of flippers that form a false tail; alternatively, a fanlike tail[, flattened flail-like or snakelike tail.]
Behavior: Swims with pronounced vertical undulations. Rapid speed. Hisses. Feeds on fishes and possibly giant squid.[The large gap in prey size between small fishes and giant squids makes this unlikely]
Habitat: Semiabyssal depths of 50–100 fathoms in the daytime, coming to the surface at night. Frequents coastal areas in temperate regions and moves further out on the continental shelf in warmer zones.
Distribution: Nearly cosmopolitan, except for polar seas and the Indian Ocean. At various times, it has been seen regularly off New England and Nova Scotia, the British Isles, Norway (especially Møre og Romsdal and Trøndelag Counties), British Columbia and southeastern Alaska, Portugal and the Canary Islands, southern California, La Plata in Argentina, the coast of South Africa, and in the Coral Sea.
Significant sightings: A description of this type of animal was first published in 1554 by the Scandinavian archbishop Olaus Magnus, who wrote that it was frequently seen in the fjords around Bergen, Norway. He mentioned the visible mane, large eyes, and elevated head and neck as prominent features.
In the spring of 1835, Captain Shibbles of the brig Mangehan reported an animal with large eyes and a long, maned neck 10 miles off Provincetown, Massachusetts.
In the summer of 1846, James Wilson and James Boehner were in a schooner near the western shore of St. Margaret’s Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada, when they saw a 70-foot animal with a barrel-sized head and a mane. George Dauphiney spotted a similar animal near Hackett’s Cove about the same time.
Officers and passengers of the British mailpacket Athenian observed a 100-foot, darkbrown sea serpent between the Canary and Cape Verde Islands in the North Atlantic on May 6, 1863. Its head and tail were out of the water, and it had something like a mane or seaweed on its head.
A “sea-giraffe” was observed by the crew of the steamer Corinthian east of Newfoundland, Canada, on August 30, 1913. It first appeared as a large head with finlike ears and huge blue eyes, followed by a 20-foot neck. It appeared attached to a large, seal-like body with four fins colored light brownish-yellow with darker spots.
Sports fisherman Ralph Bandini saw a maned [or finned] animal about a mile west of Mosquito Harbor on San Clemente Island, California, in September 1920. Its neck was 5–6 feet thick, and the eyes were 12 inches in diameter.[The much larger dimensions suggest this is not the same]
Around 1938, some 100 yards off the coast of Skeffling, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, Joan Borgeest watched a huge, green creature with a flat head, protruding eyes, and a long mouth that opened and closed. When she called out to other people in the area, it dived and did not reappear.
George W. Saggers watched a head and neck with huge black eyes off Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, in November 1947. Its dark-brown mane looked like a bundle of warts.

Possible explanation: An elongated Seal (Suborder Pinnipedia) adapted for a semiabyssal marine existence.
Sources: Olaus Magnus, A Compendious History of the Goths, Swedes and Vandals [1554] (London: J. Streater, 1658), pp. 225, 227, 231; “A Sea Serpent,” American Journal of Science 28 (1835): 372–373; “The Great Sea-Serpent,” Zoologist 21 (1863): 8727; John Ambrose, “Some Account of the Petrel—the Sea- Serpent—and the Albicore as Observed at St. Margaret’s Bay,” Transactions of the Nova Scotia Institute of Natural Science 1 (1864): 37–40; “Sea Monster’s Bonny Blue Eyes,” Daily Sketch (London), September 25, 1913, p. 6; Ralph Bandini, “I Saw a Sea Monster,” Esquire 2 (June 1934): 90–92; George W. Saggers, “Sea Serpent off Vancouver,” Fate 1 (Summer 1948): 124–125; Bernard Heuvelmans, In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents (New York: Hill and Wang, 1968), pp. 459, 552–557, 566.

[Note: Heuvelmans did NOT think the mane and whiskers of this type were hairs but suggested they were cutaneous fibers of some sort.]


  1. Just a quick correction, the "Cadborosaurus willsi" drawing from DeviantART is actually by Connor Lachmanec, a.k.a. TheMorlock.

  2. Forgive me Morlock, Tyler you are correct, I should have known better. I have had dealings with both of them for a long time and I suppose I was in too much of a hurry.

  3. Hi Dale,
    Regarding the Caddy - moose picture, if you check out the Wayback machine at, you will find my comparison image there on 28th February, 2002 - about 3 years before cryptomundo was born :-)

    Best Wishes & Happy 4th July. DR

  4. Hello Dick
    I was in no way disputing your statement that you had made the original, I was merely stating that my first knowledge of the comparison came from Cryptomundo. Since I was already of the opinion that the "Water Horse" in general was based on sightings of swimming moose (In particular in Canada but not only there) I was very much interested in the comparison and I made much of it at the time. I was acknowledging the fact that you had contacted me and alerted me to your prior publication subsequently (after you saw where I had published it on that occasion, although I cant say what that occasion was now) but I did not have your reference to the original 2002 publication: I do thank you for the reference to the 2002 publication. My own original reference was in the late -1970s, in an article I was trying to get published in PURSUIT, and I made mention of the curious fact that some land sightings at Loch Ness as recorded in Roy Mackal's book seemed to be describing a moose (specifically.) I have had a lot of trouble with that assertion since then.

    1. Thank you, Dale.

      I only thought of looking for it on the Wayback Machine yesterday.

  5. As a probably pertinent statement here, by 1980 I had become aware of good evidence that (1) Swimming moose sightings were implicated at Loch Ness and Loch Shiel, specifically Lake Storsjon and generally in Lake Monster sightings in Sweden, Finland and European Russia, in the far-eastern Siberian Lake Monster cases, in Lakes Okanagon, Bear Lake, Flathead Lake, Lake Winnepeg (and generally in that area), Lake Champlain and generally throughout Quebec on to Labrador and Newfoundland: and the most secure of those cases had even specified creatures with moose antlers: and (2) several of the lakes including Lochs Ness and Morar, once again Lake Storsjon and also Northern Europe, Iceland and the area around the American Great Lakes also had several legitimate "Shortnecked" monster reports which were relatable to a giant otter, presumably the same as the Irish Master-Otter and Burton's Giant Otter, and that a comparison of the North American and South American traditions made it likely that they were very similar to the known giant river otters in South America (Water Panthers as compared to Water Tigers)


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