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Monday, 2 May 2011

REPOST: DALE DRINNON: Reconstruction of the Monongahela SS from the Published Dimensions

Friday, January 01, 2010
DALE DRINNON: Reconstruction of the Monongahela SS from the Published Dimensions

One of the more controversial reports given in the record of Ses-serpents is the case of the Monogahela, which supposedly engaged in the killing and flensing of a hundred-foot-long unknown sea creature of peculiarly snakelike anatomy in January of 1852, in the South Pacific ocean. Heuvelmans brands the account a hoax and using a version of the story evidently as in Oudemans' book, where it was also called a hoax. However at the end of the passage, on page 229, he acknowledges that the genuine Captain Seabury's records (together with the headboard of the wrecked Monongahela), are in the Whaling Museum at New Bedford, Mass. He says he has not confirmed this. Then he says Tim Dinsdale has published another version but he has not done the research to confirm or deny it.

Dinsdale in The Leviathans (AKA Monster Hunt) plainly identifies his source and says it is from the Frank Edwards book Stranger Than Science, and that Edwards cites the letters from the Whaling Museum as a source. Other sources confirm that the letters do exist in the museum and they are written in Captain Jason Seabury's own handwriting, as attested by depositions from his living relatives also preserved at the Museum. So it seems that Heuvelmans was basing his assessment on a retelling which had gotten some of the facts wrong, including the Captains' name. Another good source is Edward Rowe Snowe's Supernatural Mysteries And Other Tales, pages 97-110. Snowe indicates that an independant account was given in confirmation by members of the Rebecca Sims, the ship that went on to deliver Seabury's letters on the return trip while the Monogahela went on to smash up in the Aleutians while trying to make up a full cargo of whale-oil.

From Seabury's desription, and begging the question for the moment as to whether the account is genuine, it is still possible to make a reconstruction of the creature. This has never been attempted before, to my knowledge.

•Length is given as 103 ft 7 inches. Given that the creature was most likely measured over the curve and had a very fat belly, this could have actually been 90-92 feet long. but hardly any less than that.

•Around the neck was 19 ft and an inch over, diameter would thus be 6 feet

•Around the shoulders was 24 feet 6 inches, diameter over 8 feet 8 inches

•Around the distended belly was 49 feet 4 inches., diameter about 15 1/2 feet

•Head and neck together were 25 feet and the neck was 10 feet long of that (specified while the fighting was going on.) the blubber on the body lay 4 inches deep. four swimming limbs and a tail were mentioned but their measurements were not given.

Putting these measurements together makes a fair picture of a large mosasaur, and I have added the measurements to one of Charles R. Knight's reconstructions for Tylosaurus. I have modified the reconstruction scarcely at all, save to subtract the pouch of loose skin at the throat and to shorten the tail somewhat. The "distended belly" was almost that fat in the original reconstruction, believe it or not.

Knight chose to make a sort of continuous backfin on this reconstruction. Other reconstructions put a jagged crest on the center of the back. In this case, the profile of the back was reported as uneven and in fact the creature first appeared as a set of small projections taken to be "humps". The creatre elsewhere clearly undulates in the horizontal plane, twisting and squirming in its death-throes. It is also possible that this is yet another time the "humps" have nothing to do with the body of the creature but were merely waves in the wake.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

LINDSAY SELBY: More Monongahela Musings

Following Dale's recent post on the Monongahela SS sighting, I found this interesting site by Tom Lytle :

He is writing a book called Here Be Monsters - the true account of Captain Jason Seabury, young master of New Bedford whaleship Monongahela, reported to have captured and killed a sea serpent in the Pacific Ocean on January 13, 1851.

He goes on to say:

'I have done the research and unraveled the facts that have been lost for over 155 years. The complete story reveals a much more fascinating true account of what happened than previously thought. There is much more to it. Is it true? I am writing a book, Here Be Monsters: The Great Sea Serpent Caught At Last!, which examines all facts including many that have been long hidden and unknown. This web site is to provide some background, sample chapters and additional chapters that I have cut from the book. Is the account true? The account is based on six very true, related stories intertwined resulting in this true account. Please read the book when it becomes available and you will fully understand this greatest of sea mysteries. Meanwhile, please read the sample chapters. I would appreciate your feedback, comments and questions.'

An extract from the site:

'Sea Monsters Unmasked is a booklet written in 1883 by Henry Lee for the International Fisheries Exhibition in London. In it he writes of a sea serpent seen in Norway on July 28, 1845:

… they saw a long marine animal, which slowly moved itself forward, as it appeared to them, with the help of two fins, on the fore-part of the body nearest the head, which they judged by the boiling of the water on both sides of it. The visible part of the body appeared to be between forty and fifty feet in length, and moved in undulations, like a snake. The body was round and of a dark colour, and seemed to be several ells [an ell is forty-five inches] in thickness. As they discerned a waving motion in the water behind the animal, they concluded that part of the body was concealed under water. That it was one continuous animal they saw plainly from its movement. When the animal was about one hundred yards from the boat, they noticed tolerably correctly its fore parts, which ended in a sharp snout; its colossal head raised itself above the water in the form of a semi-circle; the lower part was not visible. The colour of the head was dark-brown and the skin smooth; they did not notice the eyes, or any mane or bristles on the throat.

'The use of fins on the forepart of the body near the head clearly indicates that this was not a snake. It “moved in undulations, like a snake” most likely means vertical motion similar to the sideways motion of a snake. Holding its head above water, dark brown color and size continue the thread of practically all sightings.

'Another Norwegian sighting in 1847 was described by Lee:

'He described it as being about six fathoms long, the body (which was as round as a serpent’s) two feet across, the head as long as a ten-gallon cask, the eyes large, round, red, sparkling, and about five inches in diameter; close behind the head a mane like a fin commenced along the neck, and spread itself out on both sides, right and left, when swimming. The mane, as well as the head, was of the colour of mahogany. The body was quite smooth, its movements occasionally fast and slow. It was serpent-like, and moved up and down. The few undulations which those parts of the body and tail that were out of water made, were scarcely a fathom in length. These undulations were not so high that he could see between them and the water.

'Other witnesses confirmed the description and added, “… its motions were in undulations, and so strong that white foam appeared before it, and at the side, which stretched out several fathoms.” If a wake of white foam appeared before it, the monster must have been of a great size and capable of great swimming speed. The interesting feature is the undulations; only mammals swim with vertical motion, undulations, while reptiles, or serpents, swim with a sideways motion. Also, most reports of sea serpents report that the creature swims with his head and neck sticking up from the water; snakes and eels cannot swim this way. Mammals, who must breathe air, swim with their heads or nostrils above the water.'

Posted by Jon Downes at 2:15 AM
Labels: crypto books, dale drinnon, lindsay selby
marion said...
I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


11:15 PM

Tabitca said...
Thank you for your nice comment.

1:36 AM

[--Tabatica(Lindsay Selby)and I had been coming across more and more reports in this category as time passed, including reports off Southern California, off Ireland, off Western Africa and in the South Atlantic, including many that had been classified by Heuvelmans as "Merhorses." And Markus Hemmler has been most helpful in supplying new information about the WWI U-boat Captains' sightings which appear to belong in the same category. It is noteworthy that the statistics given in this series of very large Sea Monster reports all tend to coincide with each other and with the measurements given by Captain Seabury aboard the Monongahela. Furthermore, his description of the stomach contents confirms what the traditions have always stated about its ecological place: it is the ultimate apex predator. It eats whales and large sharks. Best Wishes, Dale D.]

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