Yesterday I was looking through an on-line database of old Utah newspapers from the 19th century onwards and I came across the following odd newspaper item in the Deseret News. Note: not the DESERT News but Deseret News of April 13th 1870. I am no zoologist but this doesn`t seem like any other whale or fish I have heard of.
The “balloon fish” is the latest sensation among the wonders of the deep. The sea serpent and the Bear Lake monsters will no longer excite any attention, the rage now will be the “balloon fish” as seen and described recently by the captain of the schooner Saladin, while sailing from Jacmel, Hayti, to New York. A very indistinct account of this newly discovered marine wonder was telegraphed, but from the meagre details, or rather from the lack of details there given, the only inference that could be drawn was that it was merely a rehash of the sea serpent story. Since then full particulars, furnished by Captain Siocum, of the Saladin,have been furnished to, and printed in,the New York Herald, from which it appears that it was not the sea serpent but a denizen of the “vasty deep”, totally unknown to naturalists, and probably never before seen by any living man.
The Saladin sailed from Jacmel early in March; and at about 6` o clock on the morning of the 12th, while steering north-northwest, the Captain, the only one on deck, descried, about five miles distant, on the starboard beam, what he thought was a wreck. He immediately put down his helm, turned the Saladin`s head eastwards, and desirous of overhauling and rendering assistance, called all hands on deck. Progress was made as quickly as possible towards the supposed wreck, but instead of a craft in distress, they soon discovered that it was a monster fish or serpent of some kind, “larger than a ship”, and making headway at about two knots an hour. The schooner bore down on this strange object until it was within twenty feet on the starboard quarter, when every part was plainly visible.
The following is the description of this new monster of the deep, as furnished to the Herald:
“Its architecture was very accurately measured, and the serpent was found to be 100 feet long, with a body forty feet in length and a tail of sixty foot. But the most curious feature of the monster was an immense body of hard gristle matter twelve feet in length, forty feet in width, with the same length,which was entirely void within, forming a large bladder shapped balloon, which, filled with air, buoyed the serpent on the water, and seemed to be an agent whereby it could keep the surface and commit its depredations either upon commerce or upon the harmless inhabitants of its own element. This oval buoy had regular ridges, running from the apex ahead – for this bladder preceded the body of the fish – to where it joined the main body. These ridges extended fore and aft, at intervals of four inches, with a regular height of two inches, and gave to the surface the appearance of the network of a balloon. The bladder portion was elastic, and yielded to the movements of the sea, and was two inches thick, but of a hard, dense, impenetrable character, that would resist knife or bullet. On each side of this floating dome were two heavy paddles, each five feet long, by which the monster made progress. The fish proper, which was but an appendage tailed on to this blown-up bladder, consisted of a heavy fishy substance, with blown sides, and about ten feet from the dome were two eyes, one on either side of a large horn.
From this point the fish tapered off to a forked tail of material as heavy and as hard as iron.”
Captain Slocum believed that the tail of this strange would weigh a hundred pounds to the cubic foot. The forks of the tail stood horizontally in the water, but were submerged four feet. He feared to fire at this strange beast, dreading the consequences to his bark and crew. He believes that it has some internal means of filling its balloon with air, thus enabling it to sink or swim at pleasure.
This is about the most fishy story on record; but the particulars are as furnished the Herald, and coming from such a source there seems to be no reason for questioning their authenticity. (1)
Could this have been a baleen whale?
1. Deseret News April 13th 1870.
The Alarm The Stand (Prophecy)
Come roll out the red carpert,
Come bugler sound the horn
`Cause the Hero is returning
Gotta welcome him to his home
Don`t say I didn`t warn you
This prophecy is coming true
I can hear the cavalry thundering
Riding over the hill
Riding over the hill
COME ON DOWN AND MEET YOUR MAKER
COME ON DOWN AND MAKE THE STAND
COME ON DOWN
COME ON DOWN
COME ON DOWN AND WE`LL MAKE THE STAND