An exploration of our Earth's ever-captivating fauna through musings on the bizarre side of Zoology, Cryptozoology, Paleontology, and Paleoanthropology

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Scrutinizing Alleged Photographs of the 'Bristol Crocodile'

Duckbilled Sea Crocodile by Pristichampsus
Crocodile-like unknown aquatic animals have been reported in the past; while the 'Bristol crocodile' reports are unlikely to reflect
observations of genuinely unknown animals, could they indicate crocodilians in areas where they are unverified to inhabit? The
 illustration depicts a form of 'marine saurian' reported in the Indo-Pacific and is by Tim Morris.
Ever since a bus driver in Bristol claimed to have spotted a six-foot crocodile under the Bedminster Bridge, the media has been very active in producing news articles regarding the matter. The aforementioned report launched a police investigation to no avail. The concept of a pet crocodile being accidentally or purposefully released is plausible and such a reptile could survive brief periods of cold temperatures, but how does the evidence for a crocodilian in the River Avon stand up to scrutiny? The few reports of the alleged animal aren't spectacularly compelling in their details, and although there are alleged videos and photographs of the animal, they are not anywhere near conclusive either.
Bradley Stoke town councilor Tom Aditya claimed to have recorded video of the purported crocodile at the mouth of the River Avon in October. However, the camera suspiciously pans away from the object several times and it is rather dissimilar from the appearance of a common crocodile. While cryptozoological researcher Dale Drinnon suspects that the footage may show displaced seal, the object appears to be nothing more than wood debris to me. The latest alleged photograph of the 'mystery crocodilian' was taken by jogger Tamara Blanco, who claims to have obtained the image when she suddenly noticed something in the water. She said that she "wanted to stay to see it properly but there was no one around and [she] just didn't feel comfortable." The object in the photograph itself does bear a superficial resemblance to a basking crocodile, but it also looks like it may have simply been a small object draped onto the water. Dale Drinnon suspects that the alleged alligator is either a model or a piece of wood, and points out that the appearance and position of the apparent eyes are dissimilar from those of crocodilians. Following the encounter, Tamara apparently recollected that others had reported such a reptile in the area before, and she discovered the recent allegations after searching on the Internet. Is it possible that she misidentified an object in the water and later came to believe that she had seen and photographed the famed 'Bristol crocodile' due to the expansive media hype? I suspect that similar scenarios have occurred before in regard to this local 'legend'. But perhaps this is not the case and a displaced reptile genuinely inhabits the River Avon. Further investigation will be needed in order to confirm or deny this concept, but the prospect is not looking probable at the moment regardless of what media outlets claim.
Bristol crocodile
The latest alleged 'Bristol crocodile' photograph. (Image source is here)
Bristol crocodile
Close-up of the alleged 'Bristol crocodile' photograph. Object laid out onto the water, model, or genuine reptile? (Image source is here)

2 comments:

  1. I don't see how anyone can derive much useful information from a still photograph. As Joe Nickell has pointed out, a still photograph can give a much misleading representation of the animal(s) in question. Video evidence, reworked with techniques used in common detective work, ie lightblasting, contrasting, color correction, magnification and stabilizing - and viewed frame by frame is the only way to see what these creatures are IMO. In the meantime, my feelings are that there is way too much intellectualizing and speculation and not nearly enough active analyzing of the many videos available of aquatic cryptids and the North American "Apes" that goes un-examined or is quickly dismissed because it doesn't fit the preconceived notions of the most vocal proponents of that particular idea.

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    1. I certainly agree with that statement. An unknown aquatic animal could be photograped raising a flipper yet appear to be raising a head and neck in the still. The only issue is that such heavy 'enhancement' can bring out artifacts which were not originally present in the raw footage. Also, footage of a person in a costume or heavy coat could appear to be a sasquatch and footage of standing waves could appear to be an unknown aquatic animal. But yes, video tends to yield more data than still photographs, and it is probably much more reliable at times.

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