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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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

FOR OUR U.S READERS: Save the wolves

The following message, urging concerned Americans to tell the Interior Secretary to protect the wolves of the Northern Rockies as an endangered species, was sent to you by


Dear Friend,

In just a few weeks, the mass killing of wolves could begin in Idaho and Montana -- and not even newborn wolf pups and their nursing mothers will be spared.

We cannot stand by while this slaughter unfolds. On May 4, the wolf's federal protection will be lifted, and government agents will be free to open fire. After that, the states will launch
public hunts, targeting wolves.

We must act now to call off the guns!

That's why NRDC is launching "The Big Howl" campaign to mobilize
Americans everywhere to protect wolves in the Northern Rockies
from the crossfire.

Add your voice now to our campaign. Tell Interior Secretary Salazar to reverse his decision to kick wolves off the endangered species list.


This is absolutely the wrong time to rip away federal protections from these struggling wolves. Over the past year, the wolf population in Yellowstone National Park has declined by 27 percent, with more than 70 percent of wolf pups succumbing to disease.

One pack alone lost all 24 of its pups!

If the federal protections are lifted on May 4 as planned, newborn wolf pups and their nursing mothers traveling outside national parks will be in the line of fire.

That's why NRDC and our partners are filing suit in federal court to block this disastrous policy. But we must do more: we must raise a nationwide outcry that the Obama Administration
cannot ignore.

And so we're calling on everyone who cares about wolves to take part in "The Big Howl" campaign.


Please call on the Interior Department to go back to the drawing board and submit this cruel plan to the kind of rigorous scientific review the Obama Administration has promised.

After you send your own message, I will let you know about an easy way to spread the word to your friends and family. We need at least one million messages to save the wolves -- so get ready to rally your friends and family to add their own voices to "The Big Howl."


Frances Beinecke
Natural Resources Defense Council

P.S. Hearing the wolf howl after you take action is a poignant reminder of why we must act swiftly to save these treasured icons of the American West -- before their federal protections
are lifted on May 4. So please speak out today, and then tell everyone you know to take part in "The Big Howl."



TIM MATTHEWS: A little bit of politics

Tim Matthews is one of my best friends, and also - coincidentally - one of the most controversial figures in contemporary forteana. He has been involved with the CFZ for nearly a decade now, raising eyebrows wherever he goes.

There have been some interesting comments made in light of things that are happening to various members of the CFZ and they cast a sharp light onto the society we live in and the background against which we must currently operate.

Over the last 20 years we have seen various "movements" come and go; for example, the green movement has become mainstream and much talked about and despite the efforts of many good people to make a difference locally very little has happened nationally and internationally. The environment is a mess, big business continues to wreck the planet, roads spring up everywhere, more and more children - including my own - have asthma because of all the crap in the air and food is packed with chemicals, additives and a lot of nasties.

As a people, we have never been more divorced from nature or the urgent need for our families and friends to be surrounded by animals and the wilderness. Most people within the CFZ crave the peace and quiet, have a fascination for the unusual and the seriously off key and are fascinated to discover answers to the mysteries we are presented with whilst we have time.

Where so many families fail, it is to be hoped that something like the CFZ can draw together a disparate yet merry band of travellers to really make a difference. Over the years, so many things have happened in my life and the only people to actually ask about what's been going on have been people I know in the CFZ. On a more general note, so obsessed are we with our technology that little else matters. We are also obsessed about gaining money and promotion. We turn a blind eye to the excesses of government and the micro-managed control freakery that now exists at its heart. Many of those Nu Labour leading lights and ideologues were never friends of the natural world from their early political years in the Communist wildernesses of concrete campusses. They just wanted to control everything and to dehumanise us and one result is that children cannot properly read or write, they cannot go on nature walks or field trips because of new regulations. Only the best schools and bravest teachers appear to be able to get around all this nonsense.

We have a situation where justice and common sense are replaced by cameras, courts and further legislation. Your rights are vanishing and your ability to find redress within the system is severely limited. We only need to look around us to see that something very serious is wrong in Britain 2009 and this is leading to a major breakdown in society. The law of the jungle increasingly applies and political extremism is the order of the day...

Sometimes within the CFZ we speak of community and many of us are drawn to England's South West as a result. We get fleeting glimpses of new possibilities. Here, in my experience and just as an example, we can see that true community still exists in small pockets and that by engaging with local people ecologically sound projects can be designed and that a real impact can be made on people's lives. Thus we change the world, just a little bit, which is perhaps all we can do if we're moved to do so.

When we do these things we find that the modern afflictions of crime, antisocial behaviour and bad education can be tackled by encouraging people to take more of an interest in natural history, in their own lives and in the world around them...

NIGEL WRIGHT: A fishy tale of the old Devon coastline

Nowadays we have become accustomed to hearing of strange and wonderful creatures, which arise from the depths of the world’s oceans and seas. However, I have come across a rather weird story that predates any of these modern stories. I live in Exmouth, a rather pretty town, located on the mouth of the Exe estuary, in Devon. Sometime ago I was researching for an article on local strange legends, when I came across this particularly good account of what appears to be, a first-hand account of a mermaid sighting!

The one really good thing about this account is the illustration which accompanies it. It is taken from the national paper of the day (The Mirror). Now for the exciting thing!...the date…1812!, August 11th to be exact. I think the best thing to do now is to allow you, the reader, to have a look at the original account, in full. It is in the words of one of the witnesses, a Mr. Turpin. He begins:-

"The day (August 11)," says he, " being very fine, I joined a party of ladies and gentlemen in a sailing excursion. When we had got about a mile to the southeast of Exmouth-bar, our attention was suddenly arrested by a very singular noise, by no means unpleasant to the ear, but of which it is impossible to give a correct idea by mere description. It was not, however, unaptly compared by one of our ladies to the wild melodies of the AEolian harp,* combined with a noise similar to that made by a stream of water falling gently on the leaves of a tree. In the mean time we observed something about one hundred yards from us, to windward. We all imagined it to be some human being, though at the same time we were at a loss to account for this, at such a distance from the shore, and no other boat near. We hailed, but received no reply, and we made toward this creature as soon as possible; when, to the great astonishment of us all, it eluded our pursuit by plunging under water. In a few minutes it rose again, nearly in the same place; and by that time we had got sufficiently near for one of the boatmen to throw into the water a piece of boiled fish, which he had in his locker. This seemed to alarm the animal, though it soon recovered from its fears, for we presently observed it to lay hold of the fish, which it ate with apparent relish. Several other pieces were thrown out, by which the creature was induced to keep at a short distance from our boat, and afforded us the opportunity of observing it with attention, and found, to our astonishment, that it was no other than a Mermaid. As the sea was calm, and in a great degree transparent, every part of the animal's body became in turn visible. The head, from the crown to the chin, forms rather a long- oval, and the face seems to resemble that of the seal, though, at the same time, it is far more agreeable, possessing a peculiar softness, which renders the whole set of features very interesting. The upper and back part of the head appeared to be furnished with something like hair, and the forepart of the body with something like down, between a very light fawn and a very pale pink colour, which, at a distance, had the appearance of flesh, and may have given rise to the idea that the body of the Mermaid is, externally, like that of the human being. This creature has two arms, each of which terminates into a hand with four fingers, connected to each other by means of a very thin elastic membrane. The animal used its arms with great agility, and its motions in general were very graceful. From the waist it gradually tapered so as to form a tail, which had the appearance of being covered with strong broad polished scales, which occasionally reflected the rays of the sun in a very beautiful manner; and, from the back and upper part of the neck, down to the loins, the body also appeared covered with short round broad feathers, of the colour of the down on the fore-part of the body. The whole length of the animal, from the crown of the head to the extremity of the tail, was supposed to be about five feet, or five feet and a half. In about ten minutes, from the time we approached, the animal gave two or three plunges, in quick succession, as if it were at play. After this, it gave a sudden spring, and swam away from us very rapidly, and in a few seconds we lost sight of it."

What a fantastic, detailed account that is. It really does give the reader a very good idea of the creature Mr.Turpin said he witnessed. What was it?, I really have no idea, but I love the story for what it is, a really good, detailed account of a very fishy encounter, just out from my lovely home port.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


It’s Thursday and as regular readers will know, as well as the update of Wednesday’s stories from the CFZ daily cryptozoology news blog, Thursday is biscuit of the week day. This week I’m breaking with tradition and risk incurring the wrath of tea dunkers by choosing the savoury Ritz cracker. Anyway, news:

Kings Langley 'big cat' spotted...again
Thousands of dolphins block Somali pirates
Australia: Bigfoot spotted in bush near Sydney
Paleontologist pleads guilty to stealing bones

Bet he felt real ‘boned’ when he got arrested for that.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Jon and Graham in the Mexican Desert

As everyone knows, over the past few weeks Oll has spent every day scanning in our enormous archives so that we can make them available in a digital format. However, before that he spent several months going through the CFZ picture library.

At the last Uncon in November I was talking to Bob Rickard about the picture library that he was in the process of setting up, and the sprrawling CFZ picture archives.

He was amazed to hear that we have over 31,000 images in the CFZ archives. OK, quite a few are duplicates, and some are completely useless, but they do provide a unique and completely unreplaceable collection of images.

Just dipping into the files at random comes up with some amazing things that I had completely forgotten about. Here, for example is a picture of Graham and me in the middle of the Puebla Desert in Mexico. I had lost it for years and so it never made it into the paperback reissue of Only Fools and Goatsuckers where it belongs. It probably never will, so this bloggo is the only time that it will be married up with the requisite text:

"We eventually pulled into a tiny layby next to a small roadside shrine to the Virgin Mary. It was festooned in strings of small plastic flags which fluttered gaily in the wind like the prayer flags on a Tibetan monestary. Indeed, friends of mine who are much better and more devout catholics than I am have told me that for certain people in Central Americas they serve much the same function. Each time, or so they believe, the flag flutters in the wind it send up a tiny prayer to heaven. God and his Angels can see the flags fluttering far below them on earth and they act as a reminder to the Almighty of his subjects on this planet.

My personal brand of Christianity is far less concrete than this but I found it a comfortimng and oddly touching belief, and whatever your school of thought on the matter, and indeed whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs, the sight of these tint, gaily coloured flags fluttering bravely in the middle of the desolation of the Puebla Desert is a sight to warm the hardest of hearts."

This is not a shameless attempt to sell you the book, but every little helps, and you can buy the book on the link below:


GRAHAM INGLIS: Trawling the blogosphere

Graham Inglis has once again been cruising the Internet and looking for action - blog action that is.

A look at dung beetles and ARKive

Missouri entomologist Ted C. MacRae says, "ARKive is a unique collection of videos, images and fact-files assembled from among the world’s very
best wildlife videographers and photographers in an attempt to create a centralized digital library of life on Earth."

The section on dung beetles includes this comment:
"While I would dearly have loved to embed one of ARKive’s extraordinary videos or photographs
of C. albissima within this post, copyright onsiderations do not allow that."

I would have thought that hotlinking, ie embedding an ARKive picture, would have helped their cause. Providing there's suitable citing of the source and provision of a link, of course. Is this one of those
"exclusivity" societies - or maybe it's just a precaution against server overload.

MacRae's blog is at http://beetlesinthebush.wordpress.com

Duckweed to save the world?

North Carolina State University researcher Dr. Anne-Marie Stomp says: "We can kill two birds – biofuel production and wastewater treatment – with one stone – duckweed." Starch from duckweed can be readily converted into ethanol using the same facilities currently used for corn.

Read more at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090407105257.htm

If there are any emerging food shortages in the world, switching away from using corn for ethanol fuel production could be a useful move.

Life in the Desert

A picture-led blog about what it's like to live in a rural North American desert. Signs of spring are still few and far between, but butterflies are starting to make a showing. http://desertsurvivor.blogspot.com/

Up Close on Spiders

And another picture-led blog I like is http://www.bugshutterbug.com by insect macro photographer Kolby Kirk. Having tried some macro photography myself, I know it can be tricky!
Kirk gets up-close two spiders in the Mojave National Preserve. He's a webmaster, graphic designer, photographer, writer, and a traveler, so he gets to combine all of those pursuits on his blog!


I have just heard that John Keel is seriously ill. Theo Paijmans writes:

"...Word comes that John Keel, iconic Grand Old Man of Forteana, has been admitted to a NYC hospital, suffering from anemia, adema, and various other complications of diabetes.Keel,at 79, is said to be very frail and weak and his prognosis is uncertain..."

He is one of the greats, and one prays that he will recover. Remember him in your thoughtsand prayers.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


It’s Wednesday, it’s cryptozoology news update time courtesy of the CFZ daily cryptozoology news blog:

Leopard sighting a hoax to protect cashew crop
Mysterious Bat-Killing Disease Found In 2 Va. Caves
An Interview with Khat Hansen - Choctaw Medicine woman reveals details of Bigfoot encounters
Unleash the Critters
Study Reveals Secrets of Recently Discovered Snubfin Dolphin

What an interesting ‘fin’d.