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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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Sunday, January 10, 2010

LINDSAY SELBY: Loch Sraheen Dinosaur

Achill is a large bleak but beautiful island off the West coast of Ireland, and connected to the County Mayo mainland by a narrow bridge. It has an area of some 50 sq. miles (129.5 sq. km), measures 14 miles (22.4km) east to west and 12 miles (19.2km) north to south, with some 80 miles (128km) of coastline (Achill Island Map and Guide, Bob Kingston 1988). The Lough on the island made front pages news in the Evening Herald of June 4th 1968 due to alleged lake monster sightings there. Sraheens Lough is less than 100m (330ft) wide.

The front page of the June 4, 1968 issue of the Evening Herald: 'Camera shot of lake monster?'

Caption under photograph reads: 'A Dundalk businessman, on holidays in the Achill area at the weekend, took this picture. Did he catch the monster with his camera? He used a Polaroid camera and this is an untouched reproduction of the picture.'

Article continues:

The man who took the picture said that yesterday he saw the huge 40 ft. long monster on the side of the lake about 100 yards away and snapped it with his camera. He later showed the picture of the weird animal - said to resemble a dinosaur - to local people who had never before had any real proof of the existence of the monster.

SEEN BY GIRL

The visitor who wished to remain anonymous, was driving on the main road past the lake. Near Mulrany, 10 miles away he had given a lift to two girls from Mullingar. As they were passing the lake one of the girls drew the drivers' attention to the huge animal on the side of the lake about 100 yards away.

"Despite advice by the girls I immediately stopped the car and took a picture of the animal, and drove off again in a hurry," he said. "The animal seemed to be about 40 feet long with a head like a greyhound and a long tail," he added "When I mentioned the strange animal at my hotel the developed photograph became the centre of attraction and I discovered that I had stumbled on something important and proof of something Achill people had been looking for."

AT TWILIGHT

Two months ago a local part-time decorator, Mr. John Cooney (40), of Achill Sound, was passing in a car on the main road near the lake at twilight when a large animal, similar to the one described by the Dundalk visitor, crossed the road in front of him-going towards the lake. He drew the attention of another man in the car to the animal but they were too scared to pull up. Mr. Cooney related: "I found it hard to convince people in Achill that I had seen this strange animal which had looked like a type of dinosaur. Now I am glad that the visitor has seen the animal, and can produce proof of it.

So was it a dinosaur? Probably not but it could have been a giant otter, or a giant eel or something completely new. There doesn’t seem to have been many reported sightings since, apart from an angler said to have walked into the local newsagents after being scared away from the lake, and a vague report in the 1970s of two girls seeing something. Maybe the new decade will herald some new sightings and a clearer photograph. Let's hope so; until then it will probably be written off as a hoax or misidentification.

1 comment:

Dale Drinnon said...

The photograph is clearly a hoax photo of a toy dinosaur and not a good one. The debate about this has been going on since Costello mentioned it in In Search of Lake Monsters: Eric Beckjord once offered a reward if somebody would send him a copy via PURSUIT magazine.

The creature described is a "Classic" Master-otter and the sightings are the best independant confirmation of that particular cryptid.

BTW, I have had copies of the hoax photo and the enhancement outline at Frontiers-of-Zoology for some time now. The creature shown is evidently a small plasic Stegosaurus and nothing like the description.