Tales of a Sea Serpent
By Robin Smith-Johnson | Published: April 4, 2014
Every few years, Cape locals are fired up over the Pamet Puma which has been sighted from time to time in Truro. Another earlier fantastic sighting occurred in 1886, when the Provincetown Town Crier, George Washington Ready, saw a huge creature rise out of the surf as he was walking over the Province Lands Dunes one morning. In one news report, Ready said “it was 300 feet long, more or less! Had a head as big as a 200-gallon cask! Six eyes, as large as good-sized dinner plates that rose from the body.” Since Ready was hiding behind a sand dune, he was able to study the creature. According to Ready, it had “a mouth that disclosed four great rows of teeth and a tusk that extended from the nose at least eight feet.” He also described its terrible sulphurous scent and intense heat that seemed to scorch the surrounding terrain.
Many newspapers of the day published accounts of this rare sighting. Even the New York Times carried an article entitled “Provincetown; Capt. Ready is Ready with his Regular Sea Serpent Tale” (June 26, 1910). An article published in the Cape Cod Times in 1992 by Hamilton Kahn references an even earlier sighting in Provincetown. A fleet of shore-whalemen in 1719 confronted an “unidentified, large species.” An eyewitness account by B. Franklin, an uncle of Ben Franklin, saw a creature 16 feet long, with a long beard and short yellowish tail, which “fled to deep water after being wounded three times by the whalers’ harpoons.” As the summer season finally approaches, it might be good to remember these old salty tales and keep a sea eye out for monsters both real and imagined. You never know what you might see off the bow of a whale watching ship. Note: This posting was first published on April 14, 2009.
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[George Washington Ready is either the author of a hoax or he is badly exaggerating. But the description by Ben Franklin's uncle of a small beast with a beard and a short tail that was wounded by harpooners is a very good description of a moose in the water. I wonder how common mooses were in Massachussetts back in the 1700s and early 1800s?-DD]