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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Wednesday, April 14, 2010


These notes are taken from an old book The Broad Broad Ocean by someone I only know as `W. Jones` and they concern even older notes (from 1566 onwards) concerning the mermaid as being in reality the Dugong or a related animal:

But first I will mention the Stellerus (Stellers Sea Cow?):

“Only one species of the Stellerus – of the same genus as the two I have mentioned – has been known, about twenty-five feet in length, a native of the Polar seas, and never observed since the middle of the last (i.e 18th) century,so that it is supposed to be extinct. The characteristic features of this animal would lead one to suppose,also,that it may have contributed to the misconceptions about the mermaid.

Mr Rimbault, in “Notes and Queries”,remarks that the exhibition of strange fishes appears to have been at its height in the reign of Elizabeth. Shakespeare twice alludes to it: once in the “Winter`s Tale” ( Act IV .,Scene 3) ,where Autolycus says: “Here`s another ballad of a fish that appeared upon the coast on Wednesday, the fourscore of April, forty thousand fathoms above water, and sung this ballad against the hard hearts of maids. It was thought she was a woman, and was turned into a cold fish, for she would no exchange flesh with one that loved her. The ballad is very pitiful and true.” And again in “the Tempest” (Act II Scene 2) A printed notice, dated 1566, has for its title “The Description of a Rare or rather Most Monstrous Fishe, taken on the East Coast of Holland, the 17th November, Anno 1566, with a woodcut of the fish, and underneath the following lines:

“The workes of God,how great and strange they be!
A picture plaine,behold, heare you may see.”

To be continued….

1. W. Jones The Broad, Broad Ocean (date?) pp 265-266

Bob Dylan Idiot Wind

Someone`s got it in for me,they`re planting stories in the press
Whoever it is I wish they`d cut it out quick but when they will I can only guess
They said I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy
She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me
I can`t help it if I`m lucky…

MAX THE CAT 1995-2010 RIP

1995 – 2010
By Harriet Wadham, 10/04/2010

You were there for the first ten years of my life,
Now as beautiful in death as you were alive -
Giving me strength when I was weak,
Giving me joy when I was upset.
Sprightly young cat,
Healthy old cat.
You nudged me with your warm nose;
As sweet as a kitten,
Loving me like I did you.
My fingers combing through your soft silky fur,
Then cuddling you, kissing your pretty head.
You can never be replaced.
I love you.

LINDSAY SELBY: Loch Treig monster tales

Loch Treig is a freshwater loch east of Fort William, in Lochaber, Scotland. There are no roads that run alongside the loch but there is the West Highland Railway Line, which runs along the eastern bank. Loch Treig is accessible only by a single track road that ends before the dam at the north end. There is a tidal nature to Loch Treig. The causes of this tidal effect are the wind acting on the surface of the east/west-orientated loch and thermal stratification. Surface oscillations (Seiches) are seen on the loch. The building of the Laggan dam by Balfour Beatty, which is 700feet (213metres) long and 180feet (55metres) high, is part of the hydro-electric scheme in the area.

1933 Mr B. N. Peach, an engineer in charge of the hydro-electric scheme, claimed some of the divers working on the project had said there were monsters in the depths and had left or asked to be moved to other jobs.

There is a long history of kelpies or water horses in the loch:

The Rev. Dr Stewart gives the following particulars about water-horses and water-bulls in his Twixt Ben Nevis and Glencoe. They are thought of 'as, upon the whole, of the same shape and form as the more kindly quadrupeds after whom they have been named, but larger, fiercer, and with an amount of `devilment' and cunning about them, of which the latter, fortunately, manifest no trace. They are always fat and sleek, and so full of strength and spirit and life that the neighing of the one and the bellowing of the other frequently awake the mountain echoes to their inmost recesses for miles and miles around. . . Calves and foals are the result of occasional intercourse between these animals and their more civilised domestic congeners, such calves bearing unmistakable proofs of their mixed descent in the unusual size and pendulousness of their ears and the wide aquatic spread of their jet black hoofs; the foals, in their clean limbs, large flashing eyes, red distended nostrils, and fiery spirit. The initiated still pretend to point out cattle with more or less of this questionable blood in them, in almost every drove of pure Highland cows and heifers you like to bring under their notice." The lochs of Llundavra, and Achtriachtan, in Glencoe, were at one time famous for their water-bulls; and Loch Treig for its water-horses, believed to be the fiercest specimens of that breed in the world. If anyone suggested to a Lochaber or Rannoch Highlander that the cleverest horse-tamer could "clap a saddle on one of the demon-steeds of Loch Treig, as he issues in the grey dawn, snorting, from his crystal-paved sub-lacustral stalls, he would answer, with a look of mingled horror and awe, 'Impossible!' The water-horse would tear him into a thousand pieces with his teeth and trample and pound him into pulp with his jet-black, iron-hard, though unshod hoofs!'

Source: http://www.electricscotland.com/history/water/chapter11.htm

The loch being so isolated and the stories around it may have preyed on the men’s minds. (In 1933 the divers would have all been male.) But if they were not local they were unlikely to have heard the stories. The loch being so isolated (and it appears to have little habitation around it) means something could live undisturbed in the water. An intriguing one. If anyone has any information please post a comment.

The story of the divers is similar to the one about Wastwater in Cumbria here:



Dear Jon,

Another fish washes up on Seaham beach. It looks like some kind of shark, can you tell what sort it is? Is it rare or just a dog fish? Go to Youtube and type 'The biggest fish ever on seaham beach feb 2010'

Davey C

DALE DRINNON: Gambo and Ambon

There is a continuing controversy about an unidentified carcass of a 'Sea Monster' found off The Gambia and popularly named Gambo. From Wikipedia:

'Gambo' is the name given to a carcass of an unidentified large marine animal that was reportedly washed up on Bungalow Beach in The Gambia. The carcass of the Gambo was reported to have been discovered by 15-year-old Owen Burnham and his family on the morning of June 12, 1983. Owen, a wildlife enthusiast, decided to take measurements and then make sketches since he did not have a camera at the time. According to later testimony, he did not think to take a sample until after he realised he could not identify it in any books. According to Owen, local villagers called it a 'dolphin' but that was likely only because of the superficial similarity.

The carcass was later decapitated by local villagers, and the head was sold to a tourist. Its body was then buried and attempts to relocate it have failed. After Owen mentioned the carcass in a newspaper article three years after the event, it caught the attention of cryptozoologist Karl Shuker who requested more information on the carcass. According to Owen, the carcass showed little or no signs of decomposition and measured around 15 feet (4.6 m) in length. The colouration was brown on top and white below, and the skin itself was smooth. The most specific measurements were taken on the head, which was 4.5 feet (1.4 m) in length. It had a beak measuring 2.5 feet (0.76 m) long, 5.5 inches tall, and 5 inches (130 mm) wide with 80 uniform and conical teeth. A small pair of nostrils were present at the tip of the beak. The somewhat domed head measured 10 inches (250 mm) tall and 1 foot (0.30 m) wide, and had small eyes. The front pair of flippers measured 1.5 feet (0.46 m) long by 8 inches (200 mm) wide. One of the rear flippers was badly damaged and nearly torn off, revealing some intestine. The waterlogged and bloated body was around 6 feet (1.8 m) long with a 5-foot (1.5 m) girth. No fin was present on the top of the animal. The tail was long and pointed, and measured around 5 feet (1.5 m) in length.

There has been a great deal of speculation as to what the carcass could have been in life. Some question whether the carcass ever existed in the first place, as with the case with paleontologist Darren Naish. Naish expresses doubt that the carcass was real, and finds it suspicious how no sample was taken. Cryptozoologist Chris Orrick proposed that it was a severely mangled Shepherd's Beaked Whale that was twisted so that the dorsal fin and genital slit lined up, giving the appearance of a torn off limb. Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe speculated that it may be an unknown form of Beaked Whale. Another common suggestion is that the carcass is some sort of surviving prehistoric reptile. Shuker proposed initially that it was either a pliosaur or a thalattosuchian crocodile, but later referred to it as 'the last of the mosasaurs.' A 2006 expedition by the Centre for Fortean Zoology failed to uncover any remains of the creature at the alleged burial site. They also learnt from local people that the carcass was possibly that of a dolphin.

'Gambo' has been connected to many sporadic reports of crocodile-like sea serpents.

There are Giants in the Sea. Bright, Michael. Robson Books, London, 1989.
In Search of Prehistoric Survivors. Shuker, Karl P.N. Blandford, London, 1995.
The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep. Coleman, Loren and Huyghe, Patrick. Jeremy P. Tarcher Publishing. November, 2003

This is another case where I had added different information to the Wikipedia article, which was subsequently removed. In this case I was not arguing for the identity of the carcass but drawing attention to the fact that the description was indeed close to two reports listed by Heuvelmans as possible 'Marine saurians' but off the coast of EAST Africa, at the end of the Red Sea.

These reports were sent along by the same Nederlandisch sea captain and both compared to a 'Smooth caiman.' The captain's own report was listed under the ship's name Ambon and the report dated to 22 October 1904. At the time, J. Vollewens was Third Officer and the Captain was G. A. Zeilanga. Vollewens later sent a report to A. C. Oudemans and he said then the head was raised above water for a little more than half a minute, was black above and white below. The head was raised about eight feet out of the water and both jaws were lined with many sharp-pointed teeth about 4 inches long. A fin was momentarily seen behind the head and could have been either a dorsal or a pectoral fin. The diameter of the neck where it met the water was about 2 1/2 feet. It was surrounded by several smaller animals like young sharks, probably travelling along with it to catch scraps.

A similar creature was sighted by the Java off Somaliland in 1906 and Vollewens also reported that one to Oudemans. (In The wake of the Sea-Serpents, pages 374-376)
Heuvelmans states in the text that it is probably an odd odontocete but it could never be a type of beaked whale because of the many teeth in the jaws. However, in the tables in the back of the book, these reports are treated as Marine Saurians and they are so indicated on his map.

It would seem that the Ambon Sea Serpent was slightly larger than Gambo, possibly 20-25 feet long; and all speculations that this type of animal would be any sort of cetacean or crocodile would be mistaken. It is more likely a smaller form of the regular Marine Saurians, but there is no telling whether it would be the younger size of the same species or possibly a dwarfed variety. The colouring is also unlike the usual Marine Saurians. It cannot be a crocodile because the skin is smooth and it cannot be a cetacean because it has hind feet.

I include a map to indicate the carcass and the sightings. I also indicate (tenatively) that there might have been another corpse of this type found off Puerto Rico in 1964 according to information in Ivan Sanderson's files.

But Darren Naish's belief that there never was a carcass seems considerably less likely now - as indeed are nearly all of the other alternative suggestions.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1865 American president Abraham Lincoln died after being shot by John Wilkes Booth the previous day. Abraham Lincoln became interested in ‘psychic phenomena’ and spiritualism after the death of his son and one day had a vision (or perhaps saw his reflection in the mirror at an odd angle; make of it what you will) of his face being reflected twice in the mirror. The second reflection was much paler than the first and he took this as a sign that he would be elected for a second term as president but die in office. Quite why or how one would come to make such a prediction from seeing two reflections in a mirror I’m not sure, but that was what he told a journalist friend of his and it did prove to be accurate. There are also stories that Lincoln woke up once in the middle of the night and witnessed his own body lying in state and the aftermath of his assassination, and there is yet another Lincoln story that the ghostly image and sounds of the president’s funeral train can sometimes be heard.

And now, the news:

Whale watchers report large drop in sightings of grey whales
Fishing osprey caught on camera
Swarm of bees land on socks
Hellbender: It's not for dinner
Bear on a guttercam
Toads dropped from sky to help save quoll

‘Toad’-ally amazing.