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Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Strait of Magellan Sea Monster

 

sea monster

Sea Monster.
By Michael Nicoll (1905).[2]

In the midst of the "plesiosaur furore", an article was published stating that Lieutenant-commander O. Bavilaqua had seen a strange creature one afternoon in 1906 while sailing 500 meters (1,600 ft.) off the coast, along the Strait on the USS Kaweah:

I heard a splash and saw a huge ice-covered boulder splash into the sea from the high, rocky shore. A moment later a large animal appeared at the point from which the boulder had dropped and looked out toward me. The head was shaped like that of a horse and the neck was fully thirty feet long [10 meters].[1]

Note that the long neck is definitively plesiosaur-like and may have been added to embellish the story.

At about that same time frame, a very similar sea monster was reported off the coast of Brazil (very far from Patagonia).[2] Below is the eyewitness (Mr. Michael Nicoll) account:

On the 7th December, 1905, when in latitude 7° 14' S., longitude 34° 25' W., and about fourteen miles from the coast of Brazil near Para, a creature of most extraordinary form and proportions was sighted by two of us. At the time we were under
sail only, and were slowly making our way to Bahia. It was at about 10 o'clock in the morning, and I was leaning on the rail of the poop deck, when a large fin suddenly appeared close to the ship at a distance of about fifty yards. This fin resembled that of no fish I had previously seen, and I pointed it out immediately to Mr. E. G. B.
Meade- Waldo, who was on deck with me at the time, and we watched it together for several minutes. As we passed slowly by, a long eel-like neck surmounted by a head, shaped somewhat like that of a turtle, rose out of the water in front of the fin. This creature remained in sight for a few minutes, but we soon drew ahead of it, and it
became lost to view, owing to the ripple of the water. Owing to the fact that we were under sail at the time, it was not possible to go about and make a closer inspection, and with great regret we had to be content with the view we had had of this remarkable monster.
[...]
This creature was an example, I consider, of what has been so often reported, for want of a better name, as the " great sea-serpent." I feel sure, however, that it was not a reptile that we saw, but a mammal. It is, of course, impossible to be certain of this, but the general appearance of the creature, especially the soft, almost rubber-like fin, gave one this impression.[2]

The full account of the sighthing was published printed in the " Proceedings " of the Zoological Society of London (10th October, 1906, p. 721).

So perhaps, there is a slim chance that Commander Bevilaqua read this report in 1906 or (and the chances of this are really slim) saw the same creature a few months later in the Strait.

Could it be some kind of cryptid? a long-necked seal? (notice that it is described as mammalian not reptilian by Nicoll).

Or was it an Oarfish a "sea serpent" (actually a fish that looks like one)?

Bibliography.

[1] The New York Times (1922). Says he has seen Patagonia monster. N. York, U.S., 12.03.1922.
[2] Nicoll, M., (1908). Three voyages of a naturalist, being an account of many little- known islands in three oceans visited by the "Valhalla," R.Y.S.. London: Witherby & Co. pp. 22+

Copyright 2009 by Austin Whittall ©

Patagonian Monsters

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