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Sunday, 10 July 2011

Gambian Sea Elephant and other Sea Elephants, Art by Pristichampsus

Gambian Water-Elephant, artwork by Pristichampsus on Deviant Art. I thought his conception for the creature was a good place to make another comparison to an elephant seal.

Elephant Seal, Clip-art

Dungeness Spit "Merhorse" sighting as represnted by "Pristichampsus", a fairly "Normal" report for the type. This is yet another "Sea Giraffe" like the Corinthian SS and the mane should be of the "Upstanding" type.

Colossal Claude, a Sea-serpent claimed to have been seen several times around the mouth of the Columbia River.
Although the earliest descriptions and basic concept of "Claude" are much the same as for "Cadborosaurus" further north. there are quite a few reports which sound more like seals, especially elephant seals with their "Bent" or "Bulbous" noses also described as short trunks which can manipulate fish to fit in the mouth better.

Southern Californian Elephant seals, Occasionally mistaken for and described as "Claude" and "Caddy" when they wander further North.

In The Sections Below, Reports which COULD Be Elephant seals are indicated in a darker blue.

Bandon's Mini-Monster by Pristichampsus

Shadowlands Sea-serpent page:

Peter Ciams, "Colossal Claude and The Sea Monsters," The Oregonian. September 24, 1967.

[Jeff H. Johnson’s sculptured model of Cadborosaurus.
"Collosal Claude" is often taken to be just another local variant for "Cadborosaurus"]

Until about 20 years ago Oregon also seemed to be wonderful country for serpent seekers. The following story by Peter Caims appeared in the September 24, 1967 edition of the Oregonian:

Colossal Claude hasn't been seen for some time, but Marvin the Monster is reportedly alive and well. He's even appeared on television.

Claude was first seen cavorting near the mouth of the Columbia River in 1934. Over the years he was often sighted by Columbia River lightship crewmen and by passing fishermen. But the once-familiar sea serpent hasn't shown up since the mid-1950s-
Marvin is a comparative newcomer.

He was first discovered swimming off the Oregon Coast by Shell Oil Company divers in 1963. His presence was recorded by video tape cameras, later screened for study by the nation's leading marine biologists.

In addition to Claude and Marvin, the watery denizens have been sighted off Newport, Bandon, Nelscott, Waldport, Empire, Delake and also in Crescent and Crater Lakes.

They come in several varieties and sizes. Some are shiny and some have scales. Some reportedly have coarse fur. There is even a variety of mini-monster, for the compact minded.

One thing they usually have in common is the shape of their heads. Observers say they are most often found to be like those of the camel, or horse.

L.A. Larson, mate of the Columbia River lightship, was probably the first to see Claude. That was back in 1934. Other members of the crew confirmed the sighting as did the captain and members of the crew of the lightship tender Rose.

"It was about 40 feet long," and Larson. "It had a neck some eight feet long a big round body, a mean looking tail and an evil, snaky look to its head."

A news story of the day reported: "Members of the crew (of the lightship) after studying the monster for some time with field glasses, wanted to lower a boat and go after it, but the officers discouraged the plan for fear it would swamp the boat."
Claude next popped into the news in 1937, when skipper Charles E. Graham of the troller Viv raced back to Astoria with the story of sighting a "long, hairy [Maned?], tan colored creature, with the head of an overgrown horse, about 40 feet long, and with a 4-foot waist measure." [Diameter or Circumference?-DD]

Veteran fishermen gazed out over the Columbia bar and said: "It's Claude".

Claude was repeatedly sighted through the years that followed. Once by Captain Chris Anderson of the schooner Arpo. He said he got a face to face look at Claude.

"His head was like a camel's," he said. "His fur was coarse and gray. He had glassy eyes and a bent snout that he used to push a 20-pound halibut off our lines and into his mouth."

Other Oregon monsters that have competed for the headlines over the years include:

*Bandon's mini-monster, a 12 1/2 foot animal with a bulbous nose and a cow-like body covered with brownish hair. (See last of the illustrations above-DD)

--a 30-foot serpent with "a slender neck, a snake-like head, and a fan-shaped tail" seen by more than 30 people at Nelscott. The "thing" splashed around the Nelscott reefs on several occasions. One group of observers was considered extremely reliable--its members were on a WCTU outing from the Willamette Valley.

Proximity of Whiskey Run reef apparently had nothing to do with the sightings of a sea monster off Empire a few years ago. Ben Tanner, skipper of the troller Gold Coast, said the creature approached his fishing boat, "smacked its mouth, rolled its long lashed eyes at the crew, then pointed its tail in the air and dived straight down."

Oregon Indians, of course, believe there is a monster in just about every fair-sized pool of water in the state. Their legends are full of such stories.

There is a paleface corroboration, however, for monster sightings in both Crater and Crescent lakes. The latter, in particular, is said to have an unusual inhabitant that has been sighted several times.

One day Henry Schwering and Bert Vincent were fishing on the lake. Henry later reported: "I suddenly noticed that the fish had stopped biting. Then I noticed fish scooting away and the water started boiling. Then I saw a huge, round head break water not far from the boat. " The next day Bert also saw the "thing" himself, as did others on the lake shore.

Reports that a 22-foot hairy-chested monster had been washed up on the beach at Delake brought people hurrying to the spot on March 4, 1950. What brought them running was Old Hairy (as locals quickly dubbed him.)[Globster case, probably a decayed shark. Text omitted here]

And so it is with Marvin, Oregon's youngest monster.

Marine biologists have examined the Shell Oil Co. video tapes, which show Marvin in detail. The footage was shot during the company's search for off-shore oil.

Marvin shows up as being about 15-feet long. He has barnacled ridges along his body, and he propels himself in corkscrew fashion in waters about 180 feet in depth.

The University of California believes Marvin is a Ctenaphor jellyfish); Scripps Institute of Oceanography thinks he's a salpida: the University of Washington plumps for a siphonophore (another jelly fish,) the University of Texas believes simply that he is a creature left over from prehistoric times.

But the fishermen hunched over their beer glasses in Astoria taverns know otherwise. Misty-blue eyes strained seaward, with not a little affection, they say: "It's probably Claude."

[Marge Davenport, "Caddy, northwest sea serpent and other fishy stories, " Afloat and Awash in the Old Northwest. Tigard, Oregon: Paddlewheel Press, 1988, p. 201-208.]

Marvin is almost certainly a salp chain, which is the identity that Roy Mackal uses to explain the "Yellow-belly" sightings. It turns out that the explanation will not work in those cases, and not only for the glaring inconsistancy that salp chains do not show the characteristic black-and-yellow banded pattern, a fact which Mackal admits himself when submitting the possible identification.

Other sources add another case:
"While reports of Colossal Claude, or even Marvin the Monster, have dwindled in recent decades, there are some that believe the creature is still out there. In the book, Haunted Astoria, author Jefferson Davis recounts one tale of a local fisherman who had taken his boat up the Columbia River east of Astoria in 1989. The men were dragging a net that several hundred feet long and around 30-feet deep, which they let sit for a while. When they decided to haul in their catch for the day, they encountered a snag that halted the ship's motion and started to pull the bow of the boat down into the water. Captain Donald Riswick throttled the boat forward and freed the ship from whatever had snagged it, but was shocked to discover a large hole in the net that measured several feet across when they reeled the net in. While it was never clear what the net had grabbed, the story only added to the tales of a giant sea serpent seen swimming in the Columbia River."

Salp Chain.Note the "Knobby" body plan also ascribed to "Marvin the Monster"

The book In Search of Lake Monsters under the heading of "Washington" quotes from Chris Bader in the book Strange Northwest to say that "Perhaps the most bizzare lake monster of Washington state is one for which there is no specified lake and no apparent tadition" [in the 1870s] a Washington trapper discovered the carcass of a miniature Lake Monster with a body like a barrel, short stubby legs with big webbed feet, no tail and a small "snakelike" head with a mouth full of sharp teeth. The trapper packed up the carcass and took it to a small town at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers, where he showed the body to the local preacher. For some reason the Preacher thought the creature's body was an affront to God and he ordered the body to be burnt to ashes. The description is similar to "Bandon's mini-Monster" last illustrated by the Pristichampsus drawing here. It could well be a smallish elephant seal wandered inland, and there really is no reason why an elephant seal could not make its way into Crater Lake and be reported as the "Monster" there. Elephant seal mummies are found to have crawled fifty miles overland and sometimes up the sides of mountains in Antarctica. Here is Tabatica's posting on the Crater Lake Monster:

And here is a photo of a monument to the Lake Tianchi monster in China, similarly living in a crater lake and looking uncommonly like a phocid (Earless seal) The situation would then be parallel to a type of seal getting itself in Crater Lake. However, there are very few legitimate reports there, and all of them could be mistakes.

Changbai Mountain In Jilin Province
ANTU COUNTY, CHINA - FEBRUARY 18: (CHINA OUT) An artifical 'Monster of Tianchi Lake' is seen on the iced Tianchi Lake in Changbai Mountain February 18, 2006 in Antu County of Yanbian Chaoxian Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, China. Changbai Mountain, which means 'perpetually white mountain', is located in the southeast of Jilin Province near the North Korean border. The most famous scenic areas in Changbai Mountain are Baitoushan (White Head Mountain) and Tianchi (Lake of Heaven), a 2 million year old volcanic crater lake at the mountain summit.

The monsters of Cresent Lake, Upper Klamath Lake and Wallowa Lake ("Big Walley" are all described as bulky, round-headed animals that could be elephant seals. Many sightings in the area are probably sturgeons but in the 1880s, "Big Wally" was being compared to a hippopotamus, although probably the size was much exaggerated, reports said the creature was up to a hundred feet long. Possibly that included several individuals together.


  1. The "Cadborosaurus" model interestingly carries on the Classical tradition of a creature with a basically Plesiosaurian front end and then an elongated, fishtailed hind end meant to be back where the humps are. Actually of course there is no vertebrate animal which can form its back into such a shape. The depiction does seem to be from tradition more than anything else, and the idea about the Altamaha-Ha is probably originally the same. Once again, the humps that this is meant to account for are probably actually only illusionary after all.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  2. "Amy the Barefoot Poet" just left this comment on the earlier blog posting "The Sea Elephants"-

    Amy the Barefoot Poet says:
    this reminds me of the pictish beastie very clearly. which would place them in the north atlantic during the Dark and Middle ages.

    There is also the matter that some obscur "Monster" sightings and tracks around the British isles also sound like Eleohant seals.
    Best Wishes, Dale D.


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