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Friday, 5 October 2012

New England Sea Serpent Review

Recently the following article came up on the CFZ network:

Sea Serpents of South Shore Massachusetts

Monday, October 1, 2012 13:53
{As opposed to the 'North Shore Serpent', but only in GEOGRAPHIC reference)
By Kristen Good
Massachusetts lays claim as being the first state to document a sea serpent sighting. An Englishman by the name of Josselyn witnessed a creature “coiled like a cable upon a rock in Cape Ann“in 1639. In August of 1817, the same area would be spotlighted when “The Gloucester Sea Serpent” was first spotted, appearing first local fisherman. The great creature was seen by locals almost every day that month. Books such as “Gloucester’s Sea Serpent” by Wayne Soinim and “The Great New England Sea Serpent” by J.P. O’Neill chronicle the mass sighting. The subject of the Gloucester Sea Serpent was even the featured on an episode of Animal Planet’s “The Lost Tapes” in 2008. And in that same year, The Museum of Science held an exhibit about the legend.
While legends of sea monsters in the North Shore have been spotlighted in the media for years, the sea serpents of the South Shore have kept their secret locked in the memory of the Hull residents who remember stories passed down through generations about the Sea Serpent sightings at Nantasket Beach and the surrounding area. The details of the legends lie scattered in long-forgotten newspaper articles, spanning over 100 years.
The story of the sea monster that washed ashore on Mann Hill Beach in 1970 lie in the collective conscious of those who witnessed it. But to the rest of Massachusetts, it is virtually an unheard tale.
For 100 years, beginning in 1830 and diminishing in the 1930s, sightings of a sea serpent in the waters of Hull made Boston Globe headlines again and again. Some witnessed reported the creature as being over 100 feet. So many sightings were reported, that the town organized a “Sea Serpent Club” in 1911 in an attempt to prove its existence.
Nantasket, the beach community of Hull, was named by the Womapanoag tribe long before the town was incorporated in 1644. In Algonquin, Nantasket means “at the low tide place.” One of the first towns to be settled in America, the area of Nantasket would become one of New England’s most popular destination spots in the 1800s and well into the turn of the century. With its grand hotels, fine restaurants and sweeping ocean views, Nantasket attracted the wealthy to summer here. But the wealthy were not the only ones to appreciate the pristine waters of Nantasket, with its rising cliffs stretching toward the rocky seascape of Gun Rock and deep tidal pools at low tide; a sea serpent also summered at Nantasket with sightings reported in The Boston Globein 1830, 1875, 1905, 1913, 1921, 1926 and 1937.
In 1911, the town of Hull organized “A Sea Serpent Club,” whose members included town officials and other respected members of the community. The group placed a large telescope out over Green Hill and took turns being on “sea serpent watch” while Sea Serpent Club photographer, John Maguire stood by with his camera ready.
A chronology of the sightings in southern Massachusetts Harbor:
1830: A Boston man on a weekend fishing excursion at Nantasket returns to town with a mammoth fish tale: that of seeing a 100-foot sea serpent pass dangerously close the shore of Nantasket beach. The story quickly spreads throughout the streets of Boston.

1875: Passengers and crew of the steamship Roman on a voyage from Boston to Philadelphia are shocked to see a creature that looked like a sea serpent not 400 yards from their ship. The ship’s Captain informs a passenger that the crew estimated the creature as being 120-feet long.
1877: An eyewitness writes a letter to the Editor of the Boston Globe about his remarkable experience at Nantasket. One mid afternoon in July of 1877, a man looked out from the piazza of the Waverly House to see a seafoam-spouting, 40-foot serpent-like monster beyond the beach.
1905: A fisherman and his wife see the creature. Henry Hatch described the creature: “The monster, which resembled a serpent in its sinuous movements, with great rapidity passed within 100 feet of the boat, furiously lashing the sea and leaving a wide wake in its course.” Mr. and Mrs. Hatch being highly respected members of society, the story is taken with great credence and word of the monster quickly spreads.
1911: In response to a mass of sightings, Hull residents charter a Sea Monster Club whose officers include members of the Hull Police Department.
1913: Two visitors to Nantasket Beach saw what they called a sea serpent in pursuit of hunting something in the water. The two men estimated the creature’s length as being 100 feet.
1913: On November 3, 1913, three separate vehicles all pulled over when they saw what they described as being “a war at sea.” “Swimming now nearer the shore was a huge serpent, scaligerous, horrendous, devilish. The scared lookers guessed him a 50-footer and fled.” The following day, the creature is spotted by a sea captain heading toward Cape Cod Canal. Captain Macy Coffin at first mistakes the creature for a waterspout. He later estimates the creature as being 60 feet

1921: On the evening of July 22, 1921, residents and beachgoers watch amazed as a 40-foot creature, stranded in the shoal water off Nantasket flopped and turned, trying to free itself from the shallow waters. As the tide grew higher, the creature was able to escape its peril and swim away.
1926: On October 13, 1926 The Boston Globe ran this headline: “MYSTERIOUS FISH PUZZLES Nantasket: Gives Residents a Thrill.”
As mysterious as the sightings were, so is the mystery of why the sightings suddenly stopped in the 1930s. In 1948, The Globe ran this headline: “Seeing” Sea Serpents Slipping” about the subject of the dwindling sea serpent sightings from Nahant to Provincetown. “Whatever particular serpent it might have been nobody found out, but in the 200 years that followed, his snakeship made suitable showings along the cost, appearing at Cape Ann and point north, with a Cape Cod route later thrown in and Plymouth and Provincetown among ports o’call.
At the height of his career in the 1800s the “most wonderful serpent” was the most wonderful indeed for he came in what approximated six delicious flavors and 57 varieties. Some observers reported his eyes were “as big as saucepans and two feet apart”—others said they were the size of dinner plates.”
There would be no talk of sea monsters on the South Shore again for about thirty years when the eyes of a curious world were cast upon the town of Scituate when a story about a sea monster washing ashore made international news. William Conboy, lifelong resident of Scituate and witness of the Scituate Sea Creature recalls how far reaching the story was. “My brother Larry was in Vietnam and sitting around with his fellow soldiers listening to the radio when all of a sudden the news came on that they had found a sea monster in Scituate mass. He was like, “Hey! That’s my hometown! The guys were like, “yeah, sure it is.”
On Sunday, November 15, 1970, hundreds flocked to Mann Hill Beach in Scituate to see a sea monster which washed ashore at about 3 p.m. In three days following, police estimated that over 10,000 curious spectators visited Mann Hill Beach to see the creature with their own eyes. Witnesses who initially saw the creature the claimed the carcass measured at least 50 feet and estimated it to weigh nearly 40 tons.
The Patriot Ledger reported that the carcass measured 23 feet without the head, but the newspaper also reported that spectators had been chopping up the creature and taking parts of it home as souvenirs of the highly unusual event for days before the creature was measured.” Scituate police estimated that perhaps ten feet of the creature’s body had been devoured by marine life before it washed ashore. On November 14, 1970, The Times-News published an article entitled, “Sea Serpent Is Studied By Scientists.” “Without question, it’s a sea serpent,” sea historian Edward Rowe Snow of Marshfield said Sunday night…The coral-colored creature has a small head, a massive long neck and a large finned body.”
“Officials of the New England Aquarium of Boston arrived at the scene Sunday night but were not about to identify the creature. “It’s definitely not a whale but more than that I can’t say,” Donald M. DeHart, executive director of New England Aquarium said. DeHart called the creature “a very weird animal.”
Also called to the scene was Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Curator, Andrew Konnerth, who by the time arrived had nothing more to examine than a rotting lump of mangled flesh. Spectators had been ripping away pieces of flesh from the creature as souvenirs. Edward Rowe Snow reported “People were walking up and down its back, ripping it to shreds.” Konnerth upon first examination of the carcass immediately proclaimed the creature was nothing more but a basking shark. The creature was buried on the beach but then later dug up and sent to the New England Aquarium for an attempted skeletal reconstruction. In 1971, the Aquarium released a statement that the case of the sea serpent of Scituate was officially closed. Their final conclusion that it was indeed a basking shark. But many of the thousands of witnesses on Mann Hill Beach that night were not convinced.
“It had flippers. I’m no expert, but I don’t recall basking sharks have flippers. I said it before and I’ll say it again:Basking shark? What else you got?” William Conboy stated.
Maureen Shea saw the creature too. “I heard the report on the radio and piled my three kids and the rest of the kids at the bus stop into my beach wagon and took them to see it before dropping them off at school. It was a great experience and gave them plenty to talk about. To me, it bore no resemblance to a basking shark.

The carcass was indeed a basking shark that time, but the important lesson from that was that the common conception of a "Sea Serpent was something approaching the shape of the carcass or Plesioaur-shaped for the "Pseudoplesiosaur"-by 1970.
What caught my this time was the cartoon, probably drawn about 1930 in a heavily 1920s-influenced style, that was a pretty decent drawing of a plesiosaur-shaped sea serpent, and that there seems to be a common run of such reports in this area up to the 1960s, including off Long Island, of more modest-sized monsters in the 15-to-50 foot-long range, basically Plesiosaur-shaped and some of the larger ones sporting manes. This is a very different picture than the stereotped "Man-Humped" reports usually thought to be characteristic of the area (By Heuvelmans and his followers, although Heuvelmans also allowed there were the standard LongNecked kinds seen around Maine )

"Many-Humped Sea Serpent", in this case composed mostly of the  orca (killer  whale)
 in front and waves in the wake for the rear 2/3 or so

Heuvelmans' Sea-Serpent categories, none of which has subsequently proven to be accurate

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sea Serpents of Casco Bay

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sea Serpents of Casco Bay

I have posted earlier on the possibility of sea serpents and noted several rare sightings from scattered sources. Now I have come across this piece in which the creature is localized and we have many sightings of several likely specimens.

As stated before, the likely creature is able to absorb oxygen through external gills and likely spends most of its time in deep waters with little reason to surface. This bay and environs may actually be a breeding ground to which they concentrate periodically.

I have also conjectured that the females return to specific deep fresh water lakes in order to produce a clutch of eggs.

All of which covers off the known reports

During the past century, sea traffic became a noisy enterprise effectively warning of larger marine life. Most reports are about vessels running silently that are suddenly confronted by the creature. Even with future battery systems, props are noisy. The advent of the prop made sightings rarer and difficult.

The dates coincide with the heyday of working sailing ships on the East coast in particular when they were the dominant sailors on earth.

Cassie: The Casco Bay Sea Serpent

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Casco Bay is a deep inlet off the Atlantic Ocean in southwest Maine. Its wooded hilly islands are a popular vacation area and its icy waters are reportedly the home of a giant sea serpent like creature. Reports of this creature, named Cassie by the locals, can be traced as far back as the 18th century, with, as Bernard Heuvelmans points out, most of the sightings occurring between 1777 and 1877 in New England. Two thirds of these sightings were off Maine, though it would appear the Massachusetts reports attracted the most attention.

In 1751, in Broad Bay and in 1779, in Penobscot Bay, men fishing the Atlantic coastal shelf often reported the sightings of sea serpents. One of the earliest documented sightings that could be found, reported by noted cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, occurred in 1779, when Edward Preble, an 18 year old ensign, who would later become a commodore, had an encounter with a serpent like creature while aboard a ship called the Protector. On a clear and calm day Preble discovered a large serpent lying motionless near the ship. After inspecting it for some time, Preble was ordered by his captain to man and arm a large boat, Preble shoved off and headed for the creature. As he neared the serpent, it raised it’s head about ten feet above the surface of the water, looked at Preble, and began to move slowly away. Preble fired a round at the beast which caused the creature to swim off faster and disappear.

Another early account of Cassie occurred in May of 1780, when Captain George Little of Boston saw a 45 foot long serpentine creature in Broad Bay, Maine. Captain Little said the man sized head was carried about 5 feet out of the water. During June and July of 1818 others claimed to have seen a sea serpent in Portland Bay. In the 1900’s many sightings were reported off Woods Island, Maine, including a sighting by Mrs. F.W. Saunderson in 1912. Mrs. Saunderson, along with two dozen passengers aboard a steamer traveling from New York to Portland, Maine, witnessed an enormous head, long neck and barrel sized body appearing off the starboard side.

Saunderson’s reported that the creature rose about 20 feet above the water, remained erect for half a minute or so, its head turning slowly as it if to take a good look at its surroundings, and then slipped back into the water. In the late 1930’s and 1940’s encounters with the Cassie were also reported in Eastport, Maine.

Loren Coleman also interviewed several Maine residents who reported seeing Cassie as late as the 1950’s. In 1986 Coleman wrote the first published article in regards to Cassie, which appeared in the Portland Monthly. His article outlined several sightings and first hand encounters with the creature including an interview with an 81 year old man named Ole Mikkelsen, who reportedly had an encounter with Cassie on the 5th day of June, 1958.

Mikkelsen stated that his day started like any other, he woke up early and headed out to sea with his fishing partner. Around 6 am the men saw an object heading directly for them coming out of the haze, at first they thought it was a submarine, but as it came closer they discovered what ever it was to be alive. What ever the creature was came in and out of the water about 4 times as it continued to head for the two men’s boat, eventually coming up about 125 feet away and stopping, as if to look at them. The two thought of cutting their boats nets and making a run for shore, but lucky the creature made a sharp turn and disappeared into the haze, heading southeast.

Mikkelsen described the beast he saw as being light brown with a lighter underside and neck. He stated that the tail of the creature was like that of a mackerel’s and its body was well over 100 feet in length. The head of the beast stuck out of the water and was broader than its long neck; he could not see any discernible eyes or ears but was certain it could hear and see, stating that every time the Portland Lightship blew its foghorn the creature turned its head in its direction, inspecting the sound.

In recent years sightings of Cassie have been few and far between, researchers have suggested that noisy sea traffic may have caused the creatures responsible for early Cassie sightings to move to a more quiet location. This theory is backed up by the fact that other known marine animals, like seals and dolphins, have since moved on from the areas closer to the Maine shore and Casco Bay seemingly due to the area’s abundant sea traffic.

The Evidence

There is currently no physical evidence to support the existence of a creature like Cassie living in the waters off Maine.

The Sightings

In 1751, in Broad Bay and in 1779, in Penobscot Bay, men fishing the Atlantic coastal shelf often reported the sightings of sea serpents.

In 1779, Edward Preble, an 18 year old ensign, who would later become a commodore, had an encounter with a serpent like creature while aboard a ship called the Protector.

In May of 1780, when Captain George Little of Boston saw a 45 foot long serpentine creature in Broad Bay, Maine.

In 1912, Mrs. Saunderson, along with two dozen passengers aboard a steamer traveling from New York to Portland, Maine, witnessed an enormous head, long neck and barrel sized body appearing off the starboard side.

On the 5th day of June, 1958, Ole Mikkelsen saw an object heading directly for him and his friend while out in their fishing boat, at first they thought it was a submarine, but as it came closer they discovered what ever it was to be alive. What ever the creature was came in and out of the water about 4 times as it continued to head for the two men’s boat, eventually coming up about 125 feet away and stopping, as if to look at them.

The Stats– (Where applicable)

• Classification: Sea Monster
• Size: 10 to 100 feet long
• Weight: Unknown
• Diet: Unknown
• Location: Casco Bay and surrounding areas, Maine, United States of America
• Movement: Swimming
• Environment: Coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean
Below, a reproduction of the strange sea animal photographed by a scientist aboard the Emerald in 1906, and this appears to be a head and neck equivalent in size to a large anaconda's body or more, and to have a sea bird in its mouth (The photographer thinks the creatures eye is visable but it would seem to be the eye of the sea bird in the creatures mouth in this case) The Head-Neck is between a foot and two feet thick, and between eight and fourteen feet in length .

This is one of the early Lake Monster reports from Lake Memphrémagog (Which adjoins Lake Champlain) and made by Uriah Jewet in 1817. Because of the overall body plan being of a familiar type, I believe the "fins" up behind the head to be due to a mistaken observation  (The size and the shape of the "Forelimbs" is a good match for one of the fanned out branches of the nearby pine trees and there need be no other explanation than the head was reating on some torn-off branches). The face-foreward view of the head is similar to other maned sea-serpent cases, with the glaring "Snake eyes" and the nostrils placed directl in front of them. Horns are also reported although once again that might be part of the mane-just possibly, this could be an attempt to describe the Euryapsid shape of the back of the head.There also would not be loops entirely free of the water as in the drawing: that is a common belief but it flies in the face of physics..
This is my diagram of what I think is going on here, and part of my reasoning is the typically three-humped back turned at right angles to the shoreline. They would not be ripples in the wake in that alignment.I am judging the head and neck and back segments to be 15 to 20 feet long each, making the total length 45-55 feet long and about equivalent to the animal seen partly ashore at Loch Ness by Torquil MacLeod in 1960

Thois is another newspaper clipping from Ivan Sanderson's archives which shows the Massachusetts Bay Sea Serpent as being of essentially Plesiosaurian shape (But attributing a longer tail to it) 

While doing my photo search for this article I came upon this image from a children's book representing a Water Horse as a nonsense creature, the "Wingdingdilly" by Bill Peet: an old family dog wishes he was like a wonderful horse in the next farm over, and a crazy witch misunderstands and turns him into this creature. There are actually reports from Maine  as a "Thing that came in from the sea" that are like this description and it is reminiscent of an odd drawing of the Loch Ness Monster during a land encounter. The actual creature is probably based on a moose  (The book was published in Boston) .
And then there is this aged newspaper clipping from Ivan Sanderson's archives:
 I apologise for the poor quality of the reproduction but here again we seen to have an animal with 20 feet of thick head and neck out of the water, 4 feet in diameter through the head behind the snout and thus a head probably ten feet long, six feet thick at the shoulders, with eyes the size of dinner plates and a total length of over 100 feet. It is thus the size and dimensions of the creature captured by the Monongahela

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