An illustration based off of Bernard Heuvelmans' hypothetical "Merhorse" sea-serpent, by Cameron McCormick. The proposed book
mentioned early was to examine the anecdotal data behind this hypothetical animal, although I have since come to realize it as a messy
conglomeration of probable mistaken identity cases and possibly a few observations of genuinely unknown marine animals.
Looking at the multiple other 'sea serpent' reports from the Oregon Coast, Deah Lael's alleged sighting certainly is not without precedent. However, erroneous details in this report due to verbal description inaccuracies or eyewitness bias (which is a strong possibility considering the several years since her reported observation) must be considered as well. This leads to the question of whether Ms. Lael may have mistaken a known species of animal. Probably the only animal which compares to her report is the Northern elephant seal Mirounga angustirostris: an identity which researcher Dale Drinnon suggested after I sent him details of the eyewitness account. Elephant seals definitely can take on a head profile similar to that of a horse at certain angles, and even experienced fishermen have mistaken them for unknown animals in the past. Males grow to large lengths of fourteen to sixteen feet4, and the neck length described for Lael's 'sea serpent' could possibly have been such an animal's forequarters held out of the water5. While it is conceivable that the puzzling humps could be accounted for by a seal's bunched up fat, other features of this report do not bolster the explanation in my mind. Contrary to Dale's suggestion, Scott Mardis pointed out that the prominent neck, horse-like head, lack of distinguishable eyes, three humps, and greenish color make this report similar to reports of long-necked mystery animals from other marine and freshwater locations around the globe. I noted this myself, and also felt it significant that mottled skin is also a recurring description for West Coast 'sea serpents'. Thus, while there may be inherent inaccuracies, this report may very well be reflective of an encounter with an unknown marine animal species.
Elephant seals floundering in the water in a relative row, almost giving an appearance like that of a many-humped "sea serpent", with an elephant seal exhibiting a rather horse-like head profile as an inset. (Image is from an article at Frontiers of Zoology)