On December 24 1996 a carcass washed up on beach villa Rico near the town of Claveria, located in the Philippine province of Masbate. According to press reports the animal's body resembled an 26-foot-long eel-like creature with the head of a turtle. A photo of the skull, vertebrae and limbs appeared in the newspaper Philippine Star, but this photo is not available. The photograph was presented together with dried meat to unnamed "experts" and no one could identify it. Zoologist Dr Perry Ong of the Philippines University confirmed that it was "a eel-like fish...It must be an ancestral or primitive fish. It had fins. But if it is a fish, where are the ribs? It is not a mammal." The skull had obviously a blowhole-like opening, resembling that of a dolphin, but it lacked the corresponding long, narrow snout. Cryptozoologist Karl Shuker speculated it could probably be an already heavily decayed killer whale (Orcinus orca).
The description of a blowhole-like opening in the skull, however, reminded me at once to the epiphysal foramen, a round hole in the top of basking shark skulls (Cetorhinus maximus) through which a brain projection, the epiphysis or pineal body, extends. Because of this speculation, it was first necessary to determine whether the range of the basking shark includes the Philippines. And precisely during this search was quickly and completely unexpectedly the Masbate monster met again! Fishbase reports about the basking shark: "First record from Philippines: skeletal remains washed up on shore in Iceland Burias, Masbate." Unfortunately there was no date of this report, but the source was specified: Compagno, LJV, Last, PR, Stevens, JD & Alava, MNR (2005) Checklist of Philippine Chondrichthyes. CSIRO Marine Laboratories Report. This report is, fortunately, available online, and there you can read: "First record from the Philippines.. Burias Iceland, Masbate, December 1996, skeletal remains including vertebrae and Clasper washed up on beach. Identification The Philippines Star, March 9th: 1997 Victor G. Springer, pers comm."
Another sea monster carcass whose identification unfortunately remained open
until now can thus be put to file.
Shuker, KP N (2003). Shuker, KP N (2003). The Beasts That Hide from Man:
Seeking the World's Last Undiscovered Animals. New York: Paraview Press.
- (2010) Alien Zoo: From the pages of Fortean Times. - (2010) CFZ
Compagno, LJV, Last, PR, Stevens, JD & Alava, MNR (2005) Checklist of
Philippine Chondrichthyes. CSIRO Marine Laboratories Report.