Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Monday, April 27, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER NEIL ARNOLD: The continuing saga of the "Water Blackfella"

It is with great pleasure that we welcome Neil Arnold to the CFZ bloggo with this first guest blog. I have known Neil for fifteen years now since he was a schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippie who merely wanted to start a club for people interested in unknown animals. Nothing much has changed over the years. We are just both a tad older...

I used to collect piles of magazines pertaining to cryptozoology, and have stacked in my study around ten boxes of hundreds, if not thousands of crypto-related documentaries. Among the stack of magazines I’ve found several mentions of the recently revived ‘Bigfoot’ photo as mentioned in several blog posts. Originally I could have sworn I’d seen mention of the photo in an old Strange Magazine, but have since located it in Fate and the lesser known World Explorer.

The photo is also mentioned in the December 1996 issue of Fortean Times (No. 93). As far as Fate goes, (September 1996), they feature the picture in A4 colour, on page 28, although only refer to the photo in a snippet on page 57, as the rest of the main story (written by researcher Daniel Perez) concerns a piece of Sasquatch footage shot in 1995 in California, and witnessed by a handful of people including Playboy model Anna-Marie Goddard. It’s strange that the ‘Water Blackfella’ photo has been connected to so many countries, but the facts are that the creature was allegedly photographed in July 1995 near Ashford, Washington, in the Snoqualmle National Forest. A month after the photo’s were snapped, there were several sightings of a hairy hominid at Mill Creek Road, in the Blue Mountains area of south-eastern Washington. The case became known as the Walla Walla Bigfoot.

World Explorer featured a full-length colour picture on their front cover of Volume 1, No. 9. Although the article (written by David Hatcher Childress – on page 15) pertains to the legend of the Yeti, on page 25 (page 24 has a small black and white photo of the creature) there is mention of the case, the author writes:

‘…a forest patrol officer from Tacoma, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of losing his job, had an encounter with a giant ape-like creature and was able to take a series of 35 mm photos. The ranger then called Cliff Crook at the Sasquatch-monitoring group named Bigfoot Central.

Bigfoot Central is located in Cliff Crook’s living room in Bothell, Washington. Crook held a news conference on December 9th, 1995 to satisfy the mounting interest over the photos. Crook told the conference that the ranger had taken 14 photographs of the Sasquatch, but eight of them were dark because fleeting clouds blocked the sun on his 50 mm telephoto lens. The ranger said that he heard a splashing noise to his left while hiking along a ridge in Washington State’s Snoqualmle National Forest. He went to investigate the noise. Then, from a high bank, he observed the eight foot creature just 30 yards away in a swampy lagoon. He then short the rest of his film.

The photos are sensational, clearly depicting a hairy Bigfoot creature with its head low on a pair of massive shoulders. Not the sort of creature one wants to tangle with in a back alley or backwoods swamp. The photos have a certain Frank Frazetta-look to them that makes their authenticity seem doubtful. One photography analyst declared that he had found tiny diamond-shapes in the image indicating that it was a digitally created image. Cliff Crook countered that the analyst was examining a laser-copied print and not an original. Analysts at the World Explorer Club digital labs concluded that bright colours and “unnatural digital fracturing” led them to believe that the photo had been digitally created, probably in Photoshop. The verdict is still out and actual analysis of the original prints has yet to be released.’

I’m sure we’ll hear more about this fascinating case.


theo paijmans said...

Good to see that Neil finally has decided to issue some references and sources to go by his writings. Carry on Neil, as this is how it should be.

Now find me that Spring-heeled Jack source like you proimised way back, will you?

Neil A said...

What's that supposed to mean ? I don't recall promising anyone about SHJ either. Sometimes sources are difficult to find, especially when stories are spread through rumour or urban legend, and sometimes space does not allow such. I know how it should be, but it doesn't always have to fit into the 'Fortean' way of thinking, which at times lacks field work and simply relies on waffle.