Sunday, June 26, 2011

Peeking at Ivan's SITU files: meaningless reports of sea monsters.Part seven.

Off we go on cases #65-74, I think. Although initially looking like all the other clips we've been going through, these were sadly bereft of details for the most part. So, this is not exactly our best SITUational haul here. But that's life in this business, and we'll log the shallow things, too.

Case#65: Georges Bank, Newfoundland, 1826. This case actually could be a great one "if". The "if" is because there was the claim that there were many witnesses on board this passenger ship, many testimonials were taken, AND a drawing was made. None of that came with the story, unfortunately. All that was said was that a "sea serpent" was seen and that 60' of its length could be observed out of the water [ therefore intimating that the thing was longer].

#66: Machrihanish, Scotland, 1944. Another carcass, and none too impressive. >20' long with enormous eyes. Feet unlike a seal's or anything like a whale. Speculated to have been killed by War maneuvers.
#67: Brockton, MA, 1964. A "sea monster" was seen having a raised head and humps on its back.
#68: Alexandra Bay, Newfoundland, 1860s. A man was sailing to his home, saw a "sea serpent" and got so scared that he turned back.
#69: Eastern coast between NYC and Portland, ME, 1912 or 1913. An animal with a huge eel-like body, raised its head 20' out of water, and turned slowly as if surveying the surroundings. The neck had a diameter similar to a barrel.
#70: Seal Rock, OR, probably early 1940s. Carcass. Eighteen feet long. Eight foot long neck. Small head. Four flippers. Short light-brown hair.
#71: Sunset Beach, north of Vancouver, BC, 1937. Fishermen had very "close encounter" [25' away]. Had a large head shaped like a long-nosed pig, but wider built. Huge body and two large flippers seen. Later in day, others claimed to see [at greater distance] a "sea serpent" with a body 50-60' long and a head like a camel's. Diameter of body said to be "barrel-sized". At other times others claimed to have seen a "sea serpent" about 100' long.

#72: South Pacific [position undisclosed], 1852. A whaling vessel encountered something that captain and crew did not recognize as being any sort of whale. It was black, serpentine and moved with a snake-like motion. After some debate, they decided to chase the thing as they would a whale, harpooning it and killing it. It was 103' long. with a 6' diameter neck, widening to 8' at "shoulders". The body was about 16' at its broadest. The tail diminished to a point. The head was flat-topped and elongated. Its tongue was tipped with a "heart-shape". It had 94 teeth. Two spout holes, and four webbed paws. The back was black, the sides brown, and the belly yellow. They dismembered the thing as they would a Whale, but decided not to try to bring any of the bulk of it home. [I believe that some accident also occurred which flushed the evidence]. Oh well, such is Cryptozoology.

#73: New Bedford, MA, 1964. An animal 50' long was seen just 50-100' off starboard. Water was "Flat and calm as a mill pond". The head was shaped alligator-ish, with lumps all along its midline, like camel humps. Head was also huge, about 20' long. The thing had a blow-hole, but was without a discernible neck. Body was dark but with white spotting. Its tail was like a lobster's and it flapped it upon the water. It paralleled the boat for some time and seemed "friendly". [Hey boys, come on in; the water's fine...].

#74: New Bedford, MA, 1957. A creature with a very large body [of which 40' could be seen out of the water], was estimated at weighing 35-40 tons. It had a seal-like shaped body but a long neck which held its head 26' out of the water. The head was "alligator-ish". It sported a mane of bristly hair.

That's it for this bunch. There are several more notebook pages but the repetition is getting thick. We may make 100 yet. Till next time....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Peeking at Ivan's SITU files: meaningless reports of sea monsters.Part six.

Ten more of Ivan's news stories about Sea Monsters from the "Individual Reports" notebook. This gets us into the 60s, but there are a lot of repeats showing up now, so whether we make it to a round 100, who knows?? As usual, I'm not peeking ahead; more fun that way.

These things are quite varied this time and we have only one carcass. In the midst of this set, there was a repeat of the Cinsta, South Africa encounter of 1958. Most of the brief commentary was the same, but one witness was quoted as saying that the thing had reared up just like "a giant Lion sitting on its haunches". That reminded me of the antique illustration of a sea monster above. So, I've thrust it upon you for whatever's it's worth.

Case#55: South China Sea, early 1900s. A "big snake" followed a ship for three days, keeping pace with it, but never closing in. Finally it just swam away.

#56: Fairway Beacon, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, 1934. An elongated animal estimated at greater than 40 feet long, swam with its head raised 8 feet out of the water. Along its body were three humps spaced about 20 feet apart.

#57: La Jolla, CA, 1955. A compact [i.e. not serpentine] monster swam about 50 feet from observers for 25 minutes. It had the head and shoulders reminiscent of a bull gorilla. But it had no discernible face. Observers swore it was no whale nor sea lion.

#58: Santa Barbara, CA, 1966. A 15-20 foot long "serpent" moved by underwater camera several times [film clip to the side]. Motion was "spiraling". It had "rudimentary" head but noticeable eyes and mouth. A long thin tail completed the creature. Scientists speculated about jellyfish.

#59: Yakutat, Alaska, 1956. Carcass. Greater than 100 feet long. Fifteen feet wide at broadest. Reddish-brown hair. No blubber on carcass. Head 5 1/2 feet wide. 7-9" diameter eyes placed a foot apart. Ribs 5-6' long. Upper jaw protruded 5 1/2 feet beyond lower. Speculation about a Baird's Beak-nosed Whale.

#60: Whidby Island (Puget Sound), WA, 1958. A sea serpent of modest proportions [only twelve feet long] swam by using "snake-like" motions. Body was one foot in diameter. This thing was said to appear there seasonally in the warmer weather.

#61: Queen Charlotte Islands, Hecate Straits, BC, date not stated [and no date on clipping either]. A very long "sea serpent" [but no estimate given for length] appeared for quite some viewing time. (Observer made three sketches; none included). Head was raised thirty feet out of the water. Head was 1 1/2' wide and 2 1/2' long. Body was greenish shiny and of telephone pole diameter. Submerged in a spiraling fashion.

#62: Isle of Soay, near Skye, Scottish islands, 1959, maybe. This multiple witness sighting created a lot of news there. Witness diagrams are at left, plus a professional drawing. Professional drawing blows it as far as head conformation is concerned, as it should be rounder and more "turtlish".

Head protruded above water, two foot top to bottom and large eyes. Nasal holes easily seeable as well as mouth. Behind head 8-10 feet of body was seeable, rising three feet out of water. Creature was scaly and had row of serrated "fins" running down back. Body was 4-5' broad at waterline. Neck was about 8" in diameter. The head was described as like a tortoise's but as big as a donkey's. The eyes were large and round like a cow's. It made a terrific roaring-whistling sound when it breathed. Desperate scientists speculated about a displaced iguana lizard, even though they aren't nearly as big. There were claims that other seamen have seen this same sort of animal in these waters near the Isle of Mallaig.

#63: Mediterranean Sea, 1877. Relating perhaps to the Soay case, it was brought up that the HM Yacht Osborne had witnessed a strange creature the previous century. This was a long thing with serrated fins along its back [note the drawing below], and when it turned to swim away, appeared to be turtlish with flippers.

#64: near Barnstable harbor, MA, date not given [pre-1971]. Witnesses observed a large bony "grotesque" head rise up out of the water only twenty feet away. Head was covered with barnacles and "horse-like". It spouted water short distances. Its body "snaked" into view: thick, black, clean of fins or any protrusions, and 50-60 feet long. Witness had film as he was out to make film of something else at the time. Writer of story allegedly saw film and vouched for it.

So the crosses on our map are growing into the sixties, but their pattern isn't changing much. Again, this looks pretty culture-&-language driven to me, but interesting nevertheless. I'll get back to more when I can.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Peeking at Ivan's SITU files: The Santa Clara encounter.

While turning the pages of Ivan's sea serpent observations notebook [as we have been doing here for a while], I ran into a small stapled stack [about seven items, depending upon how you'd like to counts the "bits"] of references to the "Santa Clara incident" of 1947. It upon perusal deserves its own little posting. If you're an expert on this stuff, you probably know all about this case. But I'll try to add a little "added value". If you haven't read about this one before, I think that you, as was I, will be impressed with the case's quality.

It's nice to see a newsclipping in its original form and from the exact "moment" of the encounter itself. This always gives me an irrational feeling of the story being better grounded than simply hearing it out of a "modern" mouth. One of the frequent and rewarding things about these Sanderson notebooks is that Ivan will have an original newsclip here and there.

The one above tells the story in typical news item brevity. It's actually not a bad re-telling. The following is the incident as I synthesize it from Ivan's "stack" of references. As with most of our astounding encounters, it was not as long, nor as elaborate as we would like ... just seeming to be very real.

The Grace Lines ship Santa Clara was 118 miles due east of Cape Lookout [which is around the general area of Cape Hatteras in the Carolinas] and had just passed beyond the Gulf Stream prior to turning and heading for Cartagena Colombia. "The sea was calm like a sheet of glass". [Folks, I get a creepy feeling every time I read that line in these cases. I know that such a thing can occur naturally, but this still reeks of something similar to the OZ Factor in other anomalistic events and particularly High Strangeness UFO cases. Anyway....]. A ship's officer noticed a terrific disturbance in the water. A "snakelike" head, described as shaped exactly like an "adder", reared up out of the sea. [ you will note below that the original telegram described the animal as having an eel-like head; in all the later interviews the thing is described like an adder; well, pick and choose]. This "snake's" head was slightly elongated [five feet long and 2 1/2 feet wide] and slightly flattened [two feet top to bottom]. The neck was two feet in diameter gradually thickening to three feet for the body. The body was "clean": no fins, no hair, no protuberances. Just a great dark gray-brown, smooth, slick "snake".

The officer yelled something unprintable and two more crew came to watch and finally a third got a glimpse as the thing was left behind. The creature was thrashing, writhing in its coils, as they looked on. The water around it was stained with red as if from the thing's blood. Only 35-40 feet of the body could be seen [despite a later comment by the captain, who didn't see it, they never saw a "tail"]. The crew members speculated that the Santa Clara had ploughed through the animal, either severing it completely, or at least severely damaging it. They refused to speculate on whether they were ever seeing the entire length of the thing but seemed to believe that they probably had not.

While still sailing, the incident was placed into the ship's log. Somewhat amazingly, but very welcome, the incident was also telegraphed to the Hydrographic Bureau in Washington DC. Later the witnesses were given copies of their telegraph message and showed them to reporters. A simulation of the message was printed by one writer who saw it, and is posted here alongside. All such story elements are, as you know well, important. In evaluating any anomalistic claim, the same two general criteria which apply to UFO cases apply everywhere: the case must have strong "Credibility", and the case must have significant "Strangeness".

The Credibility factor in this case seems practically off the scale. We have multiple witnesses, at least two of whom were interviewed several times in close proximity to the time of the incident. The ship's Captain stood right up for his men unwaveringly, and prepared his own statement. The immediate log entry attests to the real-ness with which the incident was taken [as it is a $500 fine to falsify logs]. And the sending of a telegraph message to "higher oceanic authority" pretty much cinches it. Plus, we have another small tidbit.

Ivan Sanderson himself may have visited one of the witnesses and talked to him personally [or perhaps just on the phone]. This is a speculation, but it would explain Ivan having John Axelson's address written on an old envelope, and a difficult-to-read scratched out set of annotations about the case on a sheet of paper within. Ivan was certainly close enough to Axelson's residence to have done so.

It was suggested by someone that everybody here made the whole thing up. We know that this is the last resort of the emotionally-challenged. If such an terrorized individual can come up with nothing to back such a claim up, well, let that person "float downstream" to meet the Great Serpent in the next phase of existence [that was an enigmatic way of saying something else].

If "credibility" seems not much of an issue, what about "strangeness"? This description seems plenty "strange" to me. To begin with: the witnesses said that they observed this thing, when closest, at about twenty foot distance [at least that was the first witness' view], and then onwards to about 60 feet. Close enough I would say to give a lot of credence to details. If fairly accurate, then what explains a thirty-some foot "sea adder"? [remembering that this length is a probable underestimate].

Some character at the New York Zoological Society immediately tried to return to his peaceful world by declaring it an Oarfish. Well, I like Oarfish. Oarfish are great. They just don't happen to look [at all] like 35 foot long dark-skinned sea adders.

The Russians ultimately jumped in with the idea that this was a "giant marine eel". Well, if you can get the head shape correct with that, then I'm listening. This theory became "hot" due to the discovery by a Danish biologist, Dr, Antoni Bruun, who had collected a six-foot eel larval form in the South Atlantic in 1930. That, at least, is apparently a fact. Bruun, and the Russians, reasoned that if a normal-sized eel larva was two to three inches long, and grew into a three to four foot mature eel, what would a six foot eel larva elongate into? Using a not-outrageous "rule" often observed in biology [that animals within a genus group will have freakily similar developmental patterns from species to species], they "guesstimated" a possible sixty to seventy foot eel. Hmmm...I guess that I could go for that as an operant hypothesis [among others], maybe even a "leading" hypothesis.

Whatever this thing was/is, the case seems a very good one. Maybe we have a good ol' flesh-&-blood "new" biological "thing" like Ivan would have preferred. Maybe that "Sea as smooth as Glass" [even in the Atlantic] was telling a different and even stranger tale. I'm "all-in" for the ride on this one either way. Until, of course, one of you informs me of why I shouldn't be.

Addendum: another coincidence. In the next mixed box of SITU material, there turned out to be a stack of ripped Sanderson published pieces [TRUE, Argosy, et al]. In that stack was a small magazine called The Lookout. It services the Seaman's Church Institute of New York. There in 1964, Ivan wrote about sea monsters. In that article he featured the Santa Clara case [without naming it or the key witnesses, who he said were mercilessly harassed by the media with mockery]. It turns out that Ivan himself was the key early interviewer of the witnesses, having been asked by one of the wireservices to do so. He actually went aboard the Santa Clara while it was in dock at New York for his interviews. There he interviewed four witnesses, separately and as a group. As to their stories: "They jibed to the last detail despite the fact that any four people observing anything usually vary considerably in their statements." Ivan, quite angry as to how these men had been treated, and finding no evidence for accusations like drunkenness or lying, fumed: " The ship had rammed a very large animal of unknown and unidentified type off the eastern North American coast; period! "

Having read this here, I realize that he must have written about this in one of his books; but not having a library here in Wheeling, this will do.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Of Antient Meremaids

Friends, Romans, Countrymen [& women], I bring to you this day this trifle. A courier came burdened from great distances within the Empire [Florida ultimately, a Place laden with much non-credible legend and barbarous custom]. He carried a large container, which he dare not attempt to fit within the sacred box for postal communication [though the communications therein are rarely sacred]. In truth it fit not. He laid it on the floor and went rapidly away murmuring to the gods. I took the capacious container with a sense of premonition that maybe there was something inside [my intuitions are strikingly correct in matters such as this]. Opening the box, there lay within a Prodigious Booke. Fully a foot in height and a palm in thickness. It was a Pliny. A Booke of Prodigies indeed.

Struck by this astonishing occurrence, I risked inspecting the antient pages, all fully intact and flexible [thanks to unusually high cloth content by the magicians of 17th century paper-making]. Turning these wonder-filled pages carefully, I came to [of all serendipitous subjects] this knowledge about Meremaids:

" And as for the Meremaids called Nereides, it is no fabulous tale that goeth of them:
for looke how painters draw them, so they are indeed: only their bodie is rough and
skaled all over, even in those parts wherin they resemble a woman. For such a Mere-
maid was seene and beheld plainely upon the same coast neere to the shore: and the in-
habitants dwelling neer, heard it a farre off when it was a dying, to make a pitteous mone
crying and chattering very heavily. Moreover, a lieutenant or governour under Augustus
Casar in Gaule, advertised him by his letters, That many of these Nereides or Meremaids
were seen cast upon the sands, and lying dead. I am able to bring forth for mine authors
divers knights of Rome, right worshipfull persons and of good credite, who testifie that
in the coast of the Spanish Ocean neere unto Gades, they have seen a Mere-man, in every
respect resembling a man as perfectly in all parts of the bodie as might bee. And they
report moreover, that in the night season he would come out of the sea abourd their
ships: but look upon what partsoever he setled, he waied the same down, and if he rested
and continued there any long time, he would sinke it clean."

And that, my friends, should put a stop to all doubt and unseemly speculation.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Peeking at Ivan's SITU files: meaningless reports of sea monsters.Part five.

Back again and into the murky Deep. By the way, and this is of probably no relevance to anyone but just in case, It has dawned on me that I was using twelve cases instead of the digitally-conventional ten for the first two segments of this cataloguing, but then brain-locked and began numbering cases as if by tens. Not a Cardinal Sin, I know, but I've tried to go back and edit that into correctness. Anyway, due to that brilliant revelation, I'll now TRY to get it right and began this list with #45. I think.

Cases #s 45-54 are thumbnailed as usual, and rough-mapped below. There are two that I really like, and two more that I like almost as well. The two "stars" are the 1902 case and the 1940s case, and I'll leave them for last.

Case #45: Some year just after the turn of the century, c.1900 --- Prout's Neck. ME. Witnesses waving and shouting on shore. Fishermen rowed in direction of pointing. Close to the beach under the shade of trees floated a "sea monster". It was an "enormous snake" with a flat head widening at the rear. It was similar to the famous incident at Nantucket. The animal floated there with its head raised well out of the water. When it finally focussed on the fishermen, who were right up to it, it calmly turned and swam away to sea.

#46: Cape Ferrat Bay, Bay of Biscay [no date given on this mini-clipping]. Carcass [we have three such carcass cases this time, so I've regaled us with a random carcass picture for visual stimulation]. This one was said to resemble a sea elephant 13 feet long and 9 feet wide. It weighed several tons. Huge ears protruded from on top of its flat head. Its feet were webbed and it had thick black body hair.

#47: Gloucester, MA, 1960. Witnesses reported a "sea serpent" 70 feet long with a snake-like head colored black and white. It had "bulging eyes". Unfortunately for our wonderment, another story said that the thing was just 15 feet long.

#48: Suez, Egypt, 1950. Carcass. 36 feet long and 7 feet thick. Twin seven foot tusks protruding from head with a vestige of a trunk. Speculation was that a normal elephant had somehow died at sea.

#49: Saco River, ME, 1967. Carcass. An 8 foot skeleton with a head like a snake. It had fins and some "feathers" [!!] clinging to the bones.

#50: Research Submarine, Atlantic Ocean Gulf Stream, 1969. [picture at left is not this but sort of gets the major point across anyway]. Research team saw schools of black-colored fish 30 foot long as average. Also spotted a huge Medusa Jellyfish four feet in diameter with 30 foot long tentacles. They were convinced that there is a whole lot of weird stuff down there.

#51: Hamilton, Bermuda, 1960. Seven witnesses saw a creature greater than 30 foot long and shaped like a serpent ['tubular']. It was black colored. A local scientist was quoted saying that he thought it must be a whale, a porpoise, or rubber tyres. [<-- Bermuda is British, remember]. Unfortunately for him, three of the witnesses were nuns. Sister de Chantel followed his opinion with: "I know a whale, a porpoise, or a rubber tyre when I see one. I saw a sea serpent!". And, if he has any sense, that will end THAT debate!!

#52: Burra Isle, Shetland Islands, 1903. The crew of a fishing boat saw an animal 30 foot long, with a horn on its head and enormous flippers [one was seen; presumed two]. The thing destroyed several nets. Later in the year, in two incidents with four witnesses each, something was seen in the same location which was described as a "sea monster".

#53: Off the Maldive Islands, WW2 era, but exact year unspecified. British Admiralty trawler. This is another one of those "sea as smooth as glass" cases. It was nightshift and the sea was full of phosphorescence. [ strange balls of light were constantly floating by]. They fished at night by setting down towards the surface a bright lantern-like light. All manner of sea life were always attracted to it. The scene was, in fact, described as consistently magical to watch. This night, suddenly, all the fish et al vanished. Instead, in the lighted area, the deck officer saw only one large circle of greenish light. It resolved into one large eye. It was "attached" to a Giant Squid. The officer walked the length of the ship's deck and back; it lay all along the boat, and its size was "colossal". It was greater than the 175 foot length of the vessel, with tentacles at least 24 inches thick. Details like the suction disks and the parrot-beak were quite clear. After about 15 minutes, wherein it moved only languidly, it suddenly puffed up and shot away. (( now unless one of you folks tell me differently, this is probably my favorite Giant Squid case that I've heard about)). {but tell me if it's bogus}.

#54: Somewhere near the Gulf of Benin, Central Africa [5.31 South // 4.42 West], 1902. Here we are in another phosphorescent sea. The witnesses of the S.S.Fort Salisbury noticed a long dark object making a long luminous trailing wake. Two lights, like Masthead lamps, seemed mounted on the upper edge of its body [hmmmm...twilight zone already]. All of this sunk below the surface together. Upon coming up to the site of submergence, they could see a "huge monster" underneath the water. It has a scaly back with scales a foot in diameter. Barnacles grew on some of these. Shiny twinkling lights shown here and there on the creature. The length of the creature was 500-600 feet [!!!!!]. The body's width was 30 feet at the widest. They surmised that there must be two areas for fins, due to the disturbances of the water. There was a strong odor. Later, to the Zoologist, the Captain vouched for his second officer and the two crew.

Well, as in the popular lingo: THAT's what I'M talking about!! Please don't tell me it was an April Fool or something. Well, OK, go ahead --- Truth trumps fun, I guess.

We've got over 50 incidents on our map so far, and there are still quite a few pages in this "Ivan Notebook". If we don't get too much repetition [and I'm beginning to see some], maybe we can push 100. So, till next time ... who is the fish, and who is the fisherman??

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Mermaid Tale: something that I don't believe happened, but I don't know what did.

Well, who doesn't like mermaids?? Even Disney recognizes that the concept is charming and attractive, and in folklore those two words have their own darker meanings. I like all the Mer-people, Aquafolk, Naiads et al, and will heartily sympathize with good encounter tales of such beings. I'm not sure that the one which follows meets that criterion.

While trudging through some SITU files, here was an envelope containing the pamphlet above. Needing a break, I read some of it, happy to get in a bit of goofing off time. I was expecting Lake Monster stuff, of course, and it was there. But stuck in amongst the rest was a Mermaid tale.

The story is scanned on the left. I believe that you'll be able to read it yourself, but I'll summarize. The story comes from Moratai Island [Pacific Ocean]. No date but it must have been about 1943-1944. The story came to the pamphlet author from the man who witnessed it with his wife, and he was told it apparently while visiting their hotel in British Columbia many years later. The pamphlet writer buys the story completely, as he judges them to be "responsible", and that "this is an exact account."

After establishing these bona fides, the pamphlet writer prints a witness statement about the event, which the witness must have written right there for his use. It seems to be a verbatim re-printing in the first person.

The drawing which accompanies this page is, I believe, not something which was done in the presence of the witnesses but is a "logical" artistic rendering of the main features described in the text. I agree with the "logic" while knowing that an at-a-distance artistic rendering without witness feedback almost never comes close to the actual event's characteristics. So, Caveat Emptor.

Regarding the event itself: the witness was attracted to a commotion among the "natives" who had netted a creature. Upon approaching the scene, the witness saw that what they had in their net was no "fish" but something with human characteristics.

The witness asked what it was and was informed that they had, once again, caught a mermaid. [who knows what actual terminology was used, as the "broken-english-using" locals would seem unlikely to be using the term "mermaid" --- this begins to concern me a bit].

He was told that they wouldn't kill it but that it would die on its own. Which, "weeping", it did over the space of a half an hour.

Returning with others after the death, the witness inspected the thing and described it as having a perfectly fish-like lower body, complete with scales and ending in a "dolphin" tail. "From the navel up" however, the thing "looked as human as any person you'd meet on the street".

The mermaid was, however, not a beauty, but had coarse facial features, despite beautiful hair and and striking reddish-pink complexion.

At this point the witness' wife confirmed that seeing mermaids was not uncommon, as she had done so herself previously.

Mer-people were described as traveling in small schools and mainly avoided humans assiduously. The witness then averred that he himself had seen mermaids on three different occasions.

He also stated that the natives of some islands will eat them and compared it with the attitude of cannibals.

As an odd detail, he described the mer-people hands as having six fingers of which two were grasping thumbs [apparently on each side of the four-fingered mitt]. Allegedly, like pinnipeds, they struggle up on the beaches at night and flop about to get back to the water.

The witness ended with: "I have other almost UNBELIEVABLE tales"..... hmmmmm.

So, what's going on here??? The first thing which comes to my mind is a hoax tale by the reporting witness. There are certainly plenty of precedents for hoaxing mermaid/mermen stories from this part of the world [the infamous Fee-Jee mer-monsters {cobbled-together monstrosities out of various species' parts} inhabit several museums]. Why not just accept that and go on with our lives?? Probably I should. My hesitation about doing so is that this pamphlet writing guy got a personal written statement from this fellow AND his wife backed him up on the details. Was this a double-team hoax on the writer?? I haven't seen many UFO cases for instance where the investigator could get a detailed corroboration from the wife on a flat lie by the husband. But....???

What about the locals hoaxing the western witnesses?? Well, they are happy to do that of course as any field anthropologist knows. But this one has far too many elaborations in it to have the locals make up a phony dying mermaid on the beach.

What about a mis-identification?? Our witness just didn't know what he was looking at??

I'm willing to go the mis-identification route on many sorts of encounters, but not this one.

Any human male who cannot not go right up to a biological creature and tell the difference between a fish, a dolphin, or even an attractively smiling pinniped, and a girl, has transported my analytical systems into a universe where nothing makes any conceivable sense.

Even if our Mermaid wasn't the stuff that dreams are made of [to quote Humphrey Bogart], it will be a myopic person indeed to mistake her for a sea lion.

But what about mental goofiness beyond just flawed sense perceptors??

Can our witness have had a strange mental breakdown?? Was what he really experienced a dream?? Did the old Serotonin/Dopamine system suddenly go whacko on him for an hour or so??

So, why then is his wife supporting all the details of this mental episode as if it really happened?? I just can't go there either.

Or maybe something about the environment made several people goes temporarily nuts at the same time and in the same way. That's the Michael Persinger hypothesis to attempt to discard all such anomalistic encounters. ... and it is one of the most inadequate concepts it has ever been my "pleasure" to have been forced to read.

If not the "mysterious mind-bending environment of the sea", then what? Well, some, of course would like the creature to be real. I don't think so, either.

If the creature is to be real, it is either biological [in a Sandersonian sense of a part of this physical world and its ecology --- i.e. it is a "thing"], or it is some other type of entity.

A biological form it is not. To be so, it would have to have been part of the evolutionary system.

The evolution of the whales would give us a case study of such a thing. It took many hundreds of thousands, even millions, of years for the primitive whale-ish mammals to go back into the water from their land-lubber ways and slowly drop their excess baggage and firm up their swimmability characteristics.

Any modernized human form "deciding" to re-enter the water and do likewise hasn't had the time to accomplish such a transition. Plus, the format allegedly attained by mer-people looks wrong. The sharp differentiation of the "top" from the "bottom" in either swim-worthiness or texture makes no sense.

Evolution is a gains vs losses game. One does not retain anything which costs you more than you get from it in return. If you're going into the water, well, then, SWIM. If you're going onto the land, then stand. If you can't make up your survivalist mind, and you give up on standing, then you'd better be close to the surface all the time [and be seen by everybody if you're a penguin or a sea elephant]. If you're biological, you can't have it all ways: everything about you is constrained by reproduction and survival. Mer-people aren't biological, and Ivan didn't think so either.

So, what are they?? Are they the beautiful sirens of our folklore?? Or even the not-so-beautiful darkside sea denizens, the Sea Hags?? I don't think that this is what we had here either.

Although like any right-thinking male, I'd like all my mermaids to be pretty, I'm not opposed to the occasional Sea Hag interrupting my aesthetic environs. Or alternatively, that my now-you-see-me-now-you-don't "mermaid"/ kelpie be a shape-shifter, like our original Mhorag appears to be [I don't want to put the "Great She" in the past tense].

But our currently-discussed "mermaid" isn't any of these either.

All of our folkloric entities, real as they may be [and you folks know that I'm sympathetic to that], are not products of biology, evolution, the physical universe. They are, rather, paranormal entities operating with a different set of rules. They may exert force on our environment and communicate with us in some fashion. They will not die on our beaches and decay. Nor will Mhorag. Nor, in my opinion, will Nessie. My mind is still open about Caddy and sea serpents in general. But...even there, the carcasses never impress.

My own crude rendition of this "mermaid tale" expresses my lack of understanding [entirely --- sort of clueless even] about what this case turns about. I don't have any right to "conclude" anything on this one --- even "softly". It doesn't seem physically nor paranormally real. It doesn't seem hallucinatory. It doesn't seem a mis-identification. It doesn't seem a hoax by the locals. If a hoax by the transcribing witness, why the corroboration by the wife?? And other mermaid stories to boot?? Or was the entire thing made up from nothing by the pamphlet writer?? That, of course would neatly restore sanity and allow peaceful dismissal --- but I have no evidence for that, and feel CSICOPian simply going there.

In the end, this whole episode is a lot about our dilemmas as researchers in the anomalistic realms. We do the best we can to collect the reports and try to find what little we can. We never get there. That is why they are still anomalies.

Coincidentally, if such exists, I was reading in a novel by one of my favorite authors when the following appeared:

" though we may conjecture until we have worn imagination to shreds,
theorize until our brains are numb with it, baffle our knowledge with
mystery and our logic with the futility of it all, until we find out where
they're coming from, anything we guess is only hot air and worth about
as much".
Vitior Queynt to Jinian Star-Eye. The End of the Game by Sheri Tepper.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Peeking at Ivan's SITU files: meaningless reports of sea monsters.Part four.

Onwards into the depths of the ocean in search of monsters!!! Ten more newsclippings from Ivan will get us to forty so far. Whenever I get involved in an anomalistic claim, and the pile of reports reaches up towards one hundred, I begin to get a creepy feeling that, regardless of the "strangeness" of whatever the business is, there seems to be some foundation to it --- and very likely NOT just the stupidity of us humans. Sea monsters, in the guise of the "serpent" or elongated variety, are starting to approach that level of "Hmmmm, Yes" in our current story. There have been some hoaxes in here; and there have been other non-credible weirdnesses, but a pattern is forming, isn't it?? Well, let's keep on, and see what there is to see.

Ivan's "individual reports" newsclips notebook offers us these next ten encounter claims:

#35: 38degrees south/ 13degrees east roughly in the Cape of Good Hope area, 1855. On another of those remarkably calm smooth water days, a huge thing raised its head 30 feet out of the water. The head was about twelve feet long. The body was black and estimated at 180 feet long. It was 20 feet in diameter. There was a white stripe down the side of the head, and a "pouch" of lighter-colored loose skin under the chin. On its back was at least one "protuberance" shaped like a small water cask.

#36: Lochs, Lewis, UK/ 1856. A "sea serpent" manifested in an inland lake near the ocean. It was 40 foot long.

#37: 29-degrees north/ 34+degrees west [roughly in the area of the Azores]/ 1856. In a sea so calm it was "glassy", an elongated undulating thing broke the surface, swimming strongly and creating ripples. It was 40 feet long and swam with its head raised.

#38: Near Bathurst, South Africa, coming from Madagascar or Mozambique area/ 1863. A huge "snake" manifest. It was about 100 feet long and swam with both head and tail out of the water. Its body was about a foot in diameter and dark brown. There was a "mane" on its head.

#39: 19-degrees south/ 10.6-degrees west [roughly near St.Helena Island]/ 1858. An "enormous sea serpent" swam rapidly with the ship, holding its head 30 feet out of the water.

#40: Waimarara Beach, New Zealand/ 1950. A carcass washed up on the beach [near Hastings] which was 30 foot long and with a head three feet wide. Described alternately as a "sea serpent", a huge "alligator-like" monster, or a decayed whale, the thing was stated as having one tusk sticking out of its head. A scientist said it was a Layards Whale, despite the fact that they only grow half this size

#41: Gloucester, MA/ 1817. Brief mention of this encounter with the "huge serpentine" monster with the head the size of a horse.

#42: Off the coast of Brazil [no further location given]/ 1905. A large strange animal with a head and neck like a huge turtle [raised up eight feet out of the surface], showed nearby a ship. It seemed to have "rubbery" skin. {My moneys on something in the "sea lion family" on this one}.

#43: During a military blockade in the North Sea/ 1917. An animal similar in description to the previous "turtle" surfaced and was fired upon by the British Navy.

#44: Long Beach Island, NJ/ 1906. This is the report which goes with the illustration/news story on this page. A "great snake" greater than 60 feet
long raised its head twenty feet above the surface. The head was like an eel's, but four feet in diameter and having eyes the size of dinner plates. Its mouth was four feet wide. The animal was black and its texture slick. No fins nor protuberances were seen. There was a flabby loose-skin gathering under its chin. It swam like slithering. This thing is a bit like a junior version of #35. Here's our accumulating map. A "little" variety taking place here, but it's obvious that we have a huge English-speaking reporting bias going on. It would be nice to hear of a completely different culture's collection of Sea Monster encounters. [I know that Heuvelmanns tried to do this and Gary Mangiacopra tries as best he can today but I'm not sure that we have a convincing culturally-independent set --- like we have, for instance, with UFOs].

As a sidenote: here's a better-look at the Ballard WA hoax monster which was featured as the Yarmouth UK monster of 1897, even though this monstrosity was made in 1907. Another bunch of fun-loving very unhelpful idiots at work.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Just a News Note

The International UFO Reporter of the Center for UFO Studies has published Part One of "our" CE2p studies that we went through over a few months on the blog. The write-up there is a little bit more "orderly" than the write-up here. So, I note the publication in case anyone wants to contact the Center and purchase a hard-copy. [you'll be doing a service for one of the few consistently sane sources of UFO information if you do]. Part Two will come out in about two months, I hear.

Just wanted you to know. Also, my back is a little better at the moment, and maybe I can get a little more out there soon. To tell the truth though every day is an adventure just now.