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.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

DALE DRINNON: Is This The Great Lakes Whale?

While mulling the matter over, I was casting around for a candidate that would best fit the odds-and-ends of the Great Lakes whale reports; something that could look like a dolphin sometimes, like a grey whale sometimes and even resemble a sperm whale to some witnesses.

I began to suspect that a North Atlantic bottlenose whale might meet the specifications. Bottlenose whale remains are found in the inland sea deposits when the great lakes were proglacial, and
the bottlenose is a good medium lengeth at about 25 to 35 feet long, which could be mistakenly doubled to 50 to 75 feet long by the witnesses and fit the larger reports well enough. The whales could be considered the replacement for Mackal's [Eastern] Basilosaurian lake-monsters but they would not be Naiatakas: they would be Bessies. Lake Erie's 'South Bay Bessie' is often reported as a large spindle-shaped creature in the right size range, and sonar targets also fit the description. That does not mean to include ALL of the Lake Eerie reports, but the 'Whale' sightings are a remarkably good fit (and it does not matter if the reports are often string-of-buoy reports; those would be the waves in the wake. This time at least the creature would be big and powerful enough to leave a very noticeable wake).

Some of the fossil whales of Michigan have very recent C14 dates, up to possibly the Viking age or even colonial times. These unusually recent dates are thought to be due to contamination of the samples (link cited for Michigan fossil whales last time) However, it can also easily be turned around to say that there is evidence for recent survival of whales in the Great Lakes.

Sightings have been in decline for some time though and if the Great Lakes whales really are represented by 'Bessie' sightings, the population may very well be in peril.

1 comment:

Retrieverman said...

Fossilized beluga whales have been found in Lake Champlain, which used to be an arm of the Atlantic Ocean.

It is not typically counted as a Great Lake, but like the others, it is connected to the St. Lawrence, and at the mouth of the St. Lawrence, there are tons of beluga whales.


The Great Lakes' connection to the Great Lakes explains why the French were the first to colonize that part of the continent.