Alleged 'sea serpent' evidence rarely makes it into the attention of the general public, but when it does, I scrutinize it in light of my extensive research. (Artwork by Thomas Finley which, interestingly, bears some resemblance to a series of particular reports described in this article)
Supporting the idea of an unknown species of large marine animal visiting the waters off Florida is the fact that 'sea serpents' have been reported in this region before. I have attempted to compile every alleged sighting of a 'sea serpent' from The Sunshine State which I can locate with the resources available to me. While these may not bear any true relevance to the video in question, they are still interesting pieces of data which must be considered in regard to the aforementioned proposition. Two navy men stationed at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station reportedly observed a long-necked animal with 'antennae' atop a head similar to that of a dog.1 Two fishermen reported a similar animal on a separate occasion, reflecting some of the 'cadborosaurus' reports from British Columbia.1 In 1885, former President of the Humane Society Mr. Gordon reportedly observed a forty-two foot long carcass of an unknown nature in the New River Inlet. The animal carcass was missing a head and possessed a rather slender neck, two fore-flippers, a tail of great length, and protruding intestines and vertebrae.2 Like so many before and after it, the enigmatic carcass was lost after a storm washed it back into the sea.2 While some researchers had considered this to most likely have been a genuine 'sea serpent' carcass, Bernard Heuvelmans suggested a decomposed whale shark turned 'pseudoplesiosaur', an idea owing to the rarity of basking sharks off Florida.2 Charles M. Blackford III related several reports of strange marine animals from his former shipmates in the merchant navy to cryptozoological researcher Ivan Sanderson, one of which involved a sighting occurring between Miami and Fort Lauderdale.2 The several members of the crew aboard the Craigsmere described seeing, in July of 1920, an animal which was "long with dorsal fins somewhat like a porpoise, only several in number" and possessed a head which was "some distance ahead of the body and submerged".2 While Heuvelmans likened this report to 'sea serpents' with multiple lateral fins and round heads described elsewhere2, it sounds like a mistaken observation of dolphins to me. In March of 1943, former U.S. Marine Thomas Helm and his wife encountered an alleged 'sea serpent' while sailing in St. Andrew's Bay.2 When the animal was almost beside their boat, it turned its head and startled the couple with its peculiar appearance unlike that of an otter or seal.2 They reported the animal as having a basketball-sized head like "that of a monstrous cat" atop an approximately four foot long neck.2 It was covered with wet fur which was "uniformly a rich chocolate brown", and had glistening black eyes which were well-defined and about the size of a silver dollar.2 The animal appeared to have "a flattened black nose" and "a mustache of stiff black hairs with a downward curve on each side".2 Helm concluded his report by stating that "a great dragonlike head with tooth-studded jaws would be much easier to explain away than a catlike head as large as that of a Bengal tiger."2 As could be expected, his detailed and trustworthy report has continued to compel yet puzzle cryptozoological researchers to this day. However, Dale Drinnon has made the suggestion that Helm and his wife may have observed a female elephant seal, pointing out that "in some positions an elephant seal's neck could well look four feet long, especially if the fore flippers were held tight to the sides, and the neck would have a 'waisted' appearance behind the head, more narrow than the head."3 Arguably the most striking 'sea serpent' report from Florida (perhaps that of all the recorded anecdotes) is the alleged Penascola incident. On March 24, 1962, Edward McCleary and his skin-diving companions were supposedly the prey of a long-necked 'sea serpent' after attempting to dive to a shipwreck.2 The five teenagers were lost in the fog on a rubber raft when they suddenly heard a loud hissing sound and smelled a foul odor (a feature which has been reported at other locations like Lake Champlain, as researcher Chuck Pogan would surely point out).2 After a ten foot pole-like object which was described as leading up to a head like that of a turtle could be seen coming towards their raft, the divers panicked and went into the water.2 McCleary was apparently the only survivor to return, having spent the remainder of the night on the raft's wreckage.2 According to those who claim to have contact with him, he suffers from extreme 'survivor's guilt' to this day.1 Such an astonishing story and poor corroborative material have led some researchers such as Heuvelmans and Matt Bille to consider the report to be a probable hoax, although others continue to look into the case. Alleged Florida 'sea monster' footage taken by Gene Sowerwine caused much excitement when it was revealed on an episode of MonsterQuest in 2007, but it was later found to show both a manatee with an injured tail and a wayward bearded seal.1 Lastly, it is worth noting that unidentified animals have been reported in Normandy (Dale Drinnon thinks that reports from this location are probably based off of large elephant seals), Lake Powell, and Lake Tarpon, but there are no specific reports which I feel are of importance to reproduce here.
|A rendition of the New River Inlet carcass, by the superb artist Tim Morris, based off of Mr. Gordon's description and sketch.|
Compilation of images related to the alleged Penascola incident from Scott Mardis: McCleary's sketch, a map showing the location of the supposed occurrence, and the cover of the Fate magazine originally featuring the report.
|Illustration by Lawrence DeMeza depicting the alleged Penascola 'sea serpent' stalking its prey|
- Marlowe, Scott. The Cryptid Creatures of Florida. Great Britain: CFZ, 2011. Print.
- Heuvelmans, Bernard, Richard Garnett, and Alika Watteau. In the Wake of the Sea-serpents. New York: Hill and Wang, 1968. Print.
- Drinnon, Dale A. "Mediterranean Merhorse." Frontiers of Zoology. N.p., 8 July 2013. Web. 11 June 2014. http://frontiersofzoology.blogspot.com/2013/07/mediterranean-merhorse.html.