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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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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

MUIRHEAD'S MYSTERIES: Steller's Sea Cow

Hi again, fellow cryptozoologists and Fortean Zoologists, today`s blog should really be subtitled the Steller`s Sea Cow and Sea Monkey blog because it is these subjects I will be examining.

Steller`s Sea Cow has been defined as : "A large Sirenian of the North Pacific Ocean, presumed extinct since 1768. Scientific name: Hydrodamalis gigas, given by Eberhard Zimmerman in 1780.

Variant name: Kapustnik (Russian ,"cabbage eater”)
Physical description: Length, 20-26 feet,
Weight: up to 10 metric tonnes.
Description: Tough, dark brown skin. Rotund body. Small head. No functional teeth. Bilobate tail.
Behaviour: Average submergence time, four to five minutes. Strictly a seaweed-eater. Distribution: Gulf of Anadyr, Siberia; Commander Islands in the Bering Sea; Attu, Alaska. Significant sightings: A E Nordenskiold interviewed several residents of Bering Island who affirmed that sea cows were still being killed in the late 1770s. Around 1854 two other natives, Merchenin and Stepnoff, apparently saw an animal in the ocean that spouted water from its mouth.

Polish naturalist Benedykt Dybowski was certain that sea cows had survived off Bering Island as late as 1830. Lucien Turner interviewed an Aleut woman who said that her father had seen sea cows off Attu in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, in the mid-nineteenth century. A sea cow allegedly was stranded on the shore of the Gulf of Anadyr, Siberia, in 1910. In the early 1950s, a harpooner named Ivan Skripkin told of 32-foot, finless animals that appeared every July not far from Bering Island. The crew of the Russian whaler Buran observed six dark-skinned marine animals, 20-26 feet long, feeding in a lagoon near Cape Navarin, Chukot Autonomous Province, Siberia in July 1962. They had small heads, bilobate tails, and bifurcated upper lips.

Russian fisherman Ivan Nikiforovich Chechulin walked up to and touched a live sea cow in the summer of 1976 at Anapkinskaya Bay,south of Cape Navarin. Its tail was forked like a whale`s, and it had a long snout”. (1)

So the above is like, say, the skeleton or frame-work of the sea cow. The human element is no less interesting: In 1741 two ships, the St Peter and St Paul were travelling past the Aleutian islands. On one ship the Danish explorer Vitus Bering “was wrecked on Attu, the westernmost island in the chain. Those members of his crew who didn`t die of exposure managed to stay alive by harpooning and eating vast sea animals – up to 30 feet long – which were feeding in the kelp around the islands. These huge mammals, members of the Sirenia family – which today includes the manatees and the dugongs,all rare or endangered – became known as Steller`s sea cows. Over the past 20 years there have been various reported sightings of the sea cow off the western Aleutians and Kamchatka. The descriptions are intriguing, but it is very possible that the animals were whales, or walruses, which only seldom venture as far south as the Aleutians.(2)
Furthermore, “They [the Russians - R] killed the slow moving sea cows in such numbers that there were none left by 1768. (We have no way of knowing how many sea cows were on the islands [the Commander Islands - R] when Bering landed, but Leonhard Stejneger, Steller`s biographer, has estimated that there were some fifteen hundred.) It had taken only twenty-seven years for the Russian adventurers to eliminate the hapless sea cow from the face of the earth, but the sealers had no way of knowing that this was the last of them; they probably assumed that there were similar undiscovered islands with more sea cows. (3)

Sven Waxell, an officer on Bering`s 1741 voyage aboard the St Peter which was wrecked on the Commander Islands drew the only known example of a sea cow. (4)

Now the Sea Monkey: [not to be confused with the strange semi-animate bogus beings made of chemicals of this name to be bought in Hong Kong in the 1970s - R] According to Steller” During this time we were near land or surrounded by it we saw large numbers of hair seals, sea otters, fur seals, sea lions, and porpoises…On August 10 [1741] we saw a very unusual and unknown sea animal, of which I am going to give a brief account since I observed it for two whole hours. It was about two Russian ells [six feet] in length; the head was like a dog`s, with pointed erect ears. From the upper and lower lips on both sides whiskers hung down which made it look like a Chinaman. The eyes were large; the body was longish round and thick, tapering gradually towards the tail. The skin seemed thickly covered with hair, of a grey colour on the back, but reddish white on the belly; in the water, however, the whole animal appeared entirely reddish and cow-coloured. The tail was divided into two fins, of which the upper, as in the case of sharks,was twice as large as the lower (5)

“No record of any other sighting of this animal has been found,and so scientists have generally agreed that it must have become extinct at around the same time as the sea cow. That was until 1965...On a clear afternoon in June, [when Brigadier Smeeton, his wife and daughter and Henry Combe - R] were sailing about four miles off the northern coast of Atka, in the central Aleutians, bound for Deep Cove,when they saw a strange animal which they couldn`t identify”. (6) Its appearance was like the Sea Monkey. The Sea Monkey has variously been identified as a otter or a wayward Hawaian monk seal.

Well that`s all folks. See you tomorrow.

1. G.M. Eberhart Mysterious Creatures A Guide To Cryptozoology vol. 2 N-Z.(2002) p.519
2. M.Clark Salty Tales. BBC Wildlife Magazine. January 1987. p.11
3. R.Ellis Monsters of the Sea (1995) p.p93-94
4. R.Ellis. Ibid.p.94
5. G.W.Steller Journal of a Voyage with Bering,1741-1742. (1988 ed) in R.Ellis Ibid p.97
6. M.Clark op cit p.12

Devo – Patterns

Patterns all around you
Patterns everywhere
Patterns of behaviour
Sometimes seem unfair
Can you recognise the patterns that you find?

KITHRA'S BACK

Though the wind is whistling gusty
though the skies are wet and black
though the gate is getting rusty
shout WAYHAY cos Kithra's back!!


http://kithraskrystalkave.blogspot.com/2009/11/finally-back-on-line.html

For anybody who’s reliant on having an Internet connection, and has never had any problems with it, you can’t imagine how devastating it is to be without it. But that’s what happened to mine about three weeks ago, so here’s the saga of what took place.

The ISP I was contracted to just gave up the ghost, nothing I did could get it back up and running, and it even refused to allow me to uninstall it from my computer. The company I was with have a call centre in the Philippines where, of course, they only speak to you according to the script that’s in from of them. So they were simply useless when I contacted them. But on calling their line for a MAC code I was connected to someone in the UK. At last, I could speak to a person who had English as their first language!

Read On McDuff

LINDSAY SELBY: Pembroke Dock Sea Monster

In 2004 Richard Freeman of the CFZ, together with a crew from the Australian Animal X TV show, visited Pembroke Dock in southwest Wales, to follow up stories about a sea monster. Lindsay revisits the case...

Reward out for `Milford Monster' spotted by pub's lunch customers.

Mar 13 2003 The Western Mail - The National Newspaper Of Wales

It makes you wonder what's in the beer. The lunchtime customers at the small waterfront pub had never seen anything like it.

They were enjoying a quiet drink when suddenly they saw a mysterious serpent-like creature in the water outside. It was dark and snake-like and roughly the length of four to five cars. If it was Nessie she was a long way from home, as the mysterious creature of the deep was spotted in the Milford Haven waterway, just yards away from the busy Irish ferry terminal.

Now the sighting has become the talk of Pembroke Dock and the pub's landlord is offering a £150 reward to anyone who can catch the monster alive. David Crewe of the historic Ship-wright pub, said, "There was definitely something out there.

"It could be anything. I just want to find out what it is." The mysterious creature was spotted first by barmaid Lesley John in the deep channel of the waterway, close to where Irish ferry boats turn around before heading for Pembroke Dock ferry terminal. "I was pulling a pint for one of the lads and I was watching the ferry, you know how it leaves a white trail as it goes?" "Then I saw what looked like a big black fin. I carried on pulling the pint and it was still there. I said to the lads `What the hell is that?' "

The customers went outside to investigate and also saw something strange. "From a distance it appeared to have a snake-like head," said Peter Thomas. "And you could see a commotion in the water, a lot of splashing, about 10 metres away. "It was a rather odd thing. I do a lot of boating on the waterway and I have never seen anything like that. It was something really strange. But you can only say what you saw." By the time Mr Crewe himself was alerted, it had almost disappeared. "All I saw was a tail disappearing into the water," he said. Afterwards the pub rang the local radio station, Radio Pembrokeshire, which aired news of the sighting to the county. It was also picked up by the local paper the Western Telegraph, which splashed it over half-a-page complete with picture. Pembroke Dock's long time county councillor Viv Hay said it was now the talk of the town.


"I haven't seen the Pembroke Dock Loch Ness monster at all but a lot of people are talking about it," he said. "I just wonder what they serve there ."I suppose it was just a fleeting visit, but if it stopped here long enough it could become a tourist attraction." Radio Pembrokeshire managing director Keri Jones said the station had been inundated with phone calls from listeners offering theories about what had been seen and even suggesting names for the monster. And although there have been no other reported sightings, he said, "They really believe what they thought they saw."


There have been many sightings of so-called sea monsters around the coast of Britain, as well as the renowned monster of Loch Ness. One of the most dramatic is regularly seen off the coast of Cornwall, which along with Devon, is a particularly fertile area for sea monsters. The legendary Morgawr, as it is now known, was first sighted in 1975 and has been described as a humped creature with stubby horns and bristles. In the same year a sea monster about 10ft long was seen on Bar-mouth Beach in North Wales, while a 30ft to 40ft monster has also been spotted at Newquay.


There have also been alleged sightings of sea beasts off North Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and the Norfolk and Suffolk coasts. David Saunders, a naturalist for more than 40 years and former director of the Dyfed Wildlife Trust, said he had never heard of such a sighting around the Pembrokeshire coast before. "The nearest thing to this would be a whale or dolphin, but it does not appear to be any of these," he said. "It could have been two things separated by 10 metres." He said that over the years there had been reports of similar creatures throughout the world, and often by reputed sources such as Royal Navy ships, but such sightings were usually made out at sea. But he said that despite all the sightings, no-one had ever come up with any real proof that these mysterious creatures actually existed.


So what happened to the sea serpent? I have been unable to find any more sightings so if anyone has any information, please post. It appears a typical description of a sea serpent but if no one else reported it, it will probably be put down to “beer goggles”.

There was a report in Tim Dinsdale's book The Leviathans about a creature seen in 1967 also off the Welsh coast, so could there be large unknown creature that returns to the Welsh coast regularly? Maybe someone from the area reading this can shed some light on the subject , such as local legends or other sightings.

PAUL HARESNAPE: Weird Winkleigh 2

A pair of Firedrake dragons, Top Secret Black military aircraft, JFK’s brother, frequent UFO sightings (including a dramatic Close Encounter on a former RAF airfield), crop circles, alien big cats, witchcraft, spectral black dogs, a pub haunted by two ghosts, the discovery of a strange tunnel...Winkleigh in North Devon is an intriguingly Fortean place!

Last week our foray into the Fortean goings-on in Winkleigh began with the legend of the firedrake dragons; revealing tantalising evidence that at least some aspects of the legend persist to this day. We now turn our attention to UFO sightings associated with the village and the surrounding area, before returning to matters of a more cryptozoological nature (and some ghosts!) in Part Three.

As CFZ Director Jon Downes has noted in the past, North Devon has never been a hotbed of UFO activity. [1] However, Winkleigh is something of an exception to this rule, with regular reports over the years of (mostly) strange lights in the skies, particularly in the vicinity of Cadbury Hill. [2]

Perhaps the most famous ‘light in the sky’ encounter was that of the 1967 ‘Flying Cross’, which occurred a few miles to the north-west of the village. [3] Witnessed in the early hours by two police constables (one of whom was based in Winkleigh) they chased the bright, low, pulsating cross-like object along the country lanes at speeds of up to 90 mph. There is evidence to suggest that this bright object was actually seen several times over a period of days. [4] Some researchers have claimed the ‘Flying Cross’ to be nothing more than the planet Venus; which admittedly was particularly bright at that time. [5]

However, the following incident, witnessed by at least two independent observers, still defies explanation after more than 50 years. Before we examine the encounter itself, it is worth appreciating the somewhat covert history of the airfield in question.

Constructed in 1940, RAF Winkleigh played host to the Canadian 406 Squadron who were developing and servicing the top secret, cutting-edge A1 Radar systems for Mosquito night fighters. It was also home to the ‘Black Squadron’, an elite top secret unit flying camouflaged aircraft on clandestine missions delivering and collecting spies and secret agents into the heart of Nazi-occupied Europe. Joe Kennedy, the elder brother of US President JFK, was for a time [6] stationed at the airfield before moving to Dunkerswell in preparation for ‘Operation Anvil’:
‘This mission was to be Top Secret…the target being the German V3 Supergun site at Mimoyecques, France. The details of this mission remained secret until 1966, although the identity of the crew was not released until 1970.

'The mission was to involve the use of explosive-laden PB4Y-1 Liberator bombers under radio control…at a pre-determined point the crew would parachute from the aircraft through the nose wheel bay emergency exit and the bomber would continue the rest of its mission under radio control, finally crashing onto the target.’ [7]

Sadly, on August 12 1944, Lt Kennedy was killed when his aircraft exploded over Suffolk during a test flight.

Furthermore, on 4th June 1944 ‘Operation Bigot’ would see RCAF Wing Commander Fullerton given the dramatic responsibility of personally delivering the D-Day orders out of Winkleigh to every airfield in the South West of England, an operation so secret that he could not even discuss it with his RAF counterpart, Wg Cdr Douglass-Hamilton. [8]

Although RAF Winkleigh closed in late 1945 it is rather fitting that the remnants of this secretive airfield served as the backdrop for the intriguing close encounter detailed below. Reported to BUFORA* some nine years after the event, it was re-examined by Gloria Heather Dixon in her document ‘Myths, Rumours and UFOS: Investigations – Summer 2009’:

‘In early May 1957, the witness, a long distance tanker driver from Yeovil, Somerset had a very unusual sighting and experience. He describes the incident in the following way:

“On the morning in question, it was fine, dry and a good light. I pulled on to the perimeter track at about 04.50 at Winkleigh Aerodrome, North Devon, a disused wartime Aerodrome, the idea being to have my flask of coffee.

After some few minutes, I noticed what appeared to be a ‘submarine’ on the end of the runway. My first thought was how did it get up there. Also, it looked very new. I sat and watched for some minutes and then thought I would take a closer look and got out of the cab and walked towards it. After getting to within some two hundred yards, it was impossible to go any further towards it. Just like walking into a ‘cushion’.

This was the very first intimation of anything out of the ordinary. Then this thing went straight up like an elevator for about 1200 ft and then went off towards the North Devon Coast. The speed was terrific. There was never any noise of any sort. There were no windows, no exhaust, no sort of movement that I could see. Possibly the tail fins were just a little more fluorescent when in motion. No green men…nothing. Please, I am not a crank, just a lorry driver. There were many I believe who saw this in the air. One other saw it on the ground. I would not have come forward either, but my wife suggested I tell you of my one and only experience.

I make no claims as to its identity.”

The witness describes the object as solid and a fluorescent blue metallic colour, almost submarine shaped apart from tail fins. It appeared to hover and slightly change in brightness. He describes its size as the length of an airliner (of that time) and height of 28-30 feet, and was only 200 yards from him when he first saw it. He goes on to describe how the object disappeared from view when it went straight up vertically and then northwest until lost to sight. He remembers the weather conditions that morning as being warm and dry with a clear sky and light breeze. The BUFORA investigator of the time was John Cleary-Baker and he comments in his evaluation that:

“The narrative has a ring of truth and is a most fascinating one. I think it deserves careful study. It is perhaps one of the most significant BUFORA has received for a long time and it is a pity nine years had to elapse before the story was told.”

Commenting further he states that:

“I am in no doubt that the witness saw a grounded UFO, which took off when he approached it. The ‘force barrier’ around the object is a noteworthy feature.” ’ [9]

Whatever it was, it may have revisited the area in the early 80s, this time a few miles to the east near the village of Kings Nympton. Multiple witnesses (one known to myself) saw a bright object hovering low in the night sky, which then suddenly shot upwards at an immense speed before disappearing from view.

To be continued….


* British UFO Research Association. (http://www.bufora.org.uk/)


[1] Weird Devon by Jonathan Downes, Bossiney Books
[2] www.jackiefreemanphotography.com/raf_winkleigh
[3] www.bbc.co.uk/devon/news_features/2004/ufos
[4] See: www.prufospolicedatabase.co.uk/2
[5] www.ianridpath.com/ufo/flyingcross
[6] www.jackiefreemanphotography.com/raf_winkleigh
[7] www.aviationmuseum.net/Joe_Kennedy.htm
[8] www.jackiefreemanphotography.com/raf_winkleigh
[9] BUFORA: MYTHS, RUMOURS AND UFOSINVESTIGATIONS –Gloria Heather Dixon
July 2009 http://tiny.cc/Bufora

UPDATE ON `EGGSPOTS`

Following yesterday's story about the new cichlid magazine being produced in Germany, our old compadre Mary Bailey writes:

'Just to enlighten you, Erwin Schraml is a leading German aquarist specialising in African cichlids plus catfishes, and eggspots is his "baby". Uli Schliewen is a leading German ichthyologist working in genetics and West African cichlids. Martin Geerts is one of the authors (with Ufermann & Allgayer) of the "Cichlid Catalogue" privately published about 20 years ago and invaluable even now for checking taxonomy. People often ask me about cichlid taxonomy, and if I don't know I ask Martin as he is omniscient on the subject!'


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

On this day in 1974 Donald Johanson and Tom Gray discovered the first Australopithecus afarensis skeleton, which they named Lucy. Also on this day in 1963 Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald and in 1971 hijacker Dan Cooper jumped from a plane flying over Washington State, USA with $200,000 in ransom money, neither he or the money were ever seen again.
And now the cryptozoology news:

Strange creatures of the deep found in underwater 'twilight zone'
Smuggler ties 15 lizards to his chest
Dog attack kangaroo turned on owner
Drug misuse on Minnesota dairy cows prompts federal warning
3 new ancient crocodile species fossils found
Mary the tortoise 'is actually male'

One day a baby elephant and her 90-year-old great grandmother went for a drink in a watering hole, all of a sudden the old elephant spots a tortoise on the bank and thunders towards him before kicking him into the grass.

“Why did you do that?” asked the baby elephant.

“Because,” The old elephant answered “I can remember coming down to this watering hole when I was your age and, clear as day, I remember that very tortoise biting my tail exactly 84 years and 243 days ago.”

“Wow,” said the baby elephant, suitably impressed “I hope I have turtle recall when I’m your age too.”