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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Saturday, June 19, 2010

KAYE AND THE KIDS WANT TO GO MOTH HUNTING (Like they did last summer)


DALE DRINNON: The PAULINE SS, 1875, And Its Most Improbable Proportions

One of the more famous Sea-serpent sightings was supposedly witnessed in 1875 by the crew of the ship Pauline (by all hands, as a matter of fact)

From Charles Gould's classic Mythical Monsters (1886):

The Barque "Pauline" Sea-serpent.

To the Editor of the Calcutta Englishman.

SIR,—As I am not sure that my statement respecting the sea-serpent reached the Shipping Gazette in London, I enclose a copy that may be interesting to your numerous readers. I have been sent plenty of extracts from English papers, nearly all of them ridiculing my statement. I can laugh and joke on the subject as well as anyone, but I can't see why, if people can't fairly refute my statement, they should use falsehood to do so. The Daily Telegraph says, "The ribs of the ill-fated fish were distinctly heard cracking one after the other, with a report like that of a small cannon; its bellowings ceased, &c. To use the eloquent words of the principal spectator, it 'struck us all aghast with terror.'" If the writer knew anything of sailors, he would not write such bosh. Fear and terror are not in Jack's composition; and such eloquent words he leaves to such correspondents as described the ever-doubtful "man-and-dog-fight." I am just as certain of seeing what I described, as that I met the advertisement that the Telegraph has the largest circulation in the world staring me at every street corner in London. It is easy for such a paper to make any man, good, great, or interesting, look ridiculous. Little wonder is it that my relatives write saying that they would have seen a hundred sea-serpents and never reported it; and a lady also wrote that she pitied anyone that was related to anyone that had seen the sea-serpent. It is quite true that it is a sad thing for any man to see more, to feel more, and to know more, than his fellows; but I have some of the philosophy that made O'Connell rejoice in being the most abused man in the United Kingdom, for he also had the power of giving a person a lick with the rough side of his tongue. If I had any such power I would not use it, for contempt is the sharpest reproof; and this letter is the only notice I have taken of the many absurd statements, &c. &c. &c.


Master of the Pauline.
Barque Pauline,

Chittagong, January 15, 1876.

Barque Pauline, January 8th, 1875, lat. 5° 13' S., long. 35° W., Cape Roque, north-east corner of Brazil distant twenty miles, at 11 A.M.

The weather fine and clear, the wind and sea moderate. Observed some black spots on the water, and a whitish pillar, about thirty-five feet high, above them At the first glance I took all to be breakers, as the sea was splashing up fountain-like about them, and the pillar, a pinnacle rock bleached with the sun; but the pillar fell with a splash, and a similar one rose. They rose and fell alternately in quick succession, and good glasses showed me it was a monster sea-serpent coiled twice round a large sperm whale. The head and tail parts, each about thirty feet long, were acting as levers, twisting itself and victim around with great velocity. They sank out of sight about every two minutes, coming to the surface still revolving, and the struggles of the whale and two other whales that were near, frantic with excitement, made the sea in this vicinity like a boiling cauldron; and a loud and confused noise was distinctly heard. This strange occurrence lasted some fifteen
minutes, and finished with the tail portion of the whale being elevated straight in the air, then waving backwards and forwards, and laving [lashing?] the water furiously in the last death-struggle, when the whole body disappeared from our view, going down head-foremost towards the bottom, where, no doubt, it was gorged at the serpent's leisure; and that monster of monsters may have been many months in a state of coma, digesting the huge mouthful. Then two of the largest sperm whales that I have ever seen moved slowly thence towards the vessel, their bodies more than usually elevated out of the water, and not spouting or making the least noise, but seeming quite paralysed with fear; indeed, a cold shiver went through my own frame on beholding the last agonising struggle of the poor whale that had seemed as helpless in the coils of the vicious monster as a small bird in the talons of a hawk. Allowing for two coils round the whale, I think the serpent was about one hundred and sixty or one hundred and seventy feet long, and seven or eight in girth. It was in colour much like a conger eel, and the head, from the mouth being always open, appeared the largest part of the body. . . . . I think Cape San Roque is a landmark for whales leaving the south for the North Atlantic. . . . . I wrote thus far, little thinking I would ever see the serpent again; but at 7 A.M., July 13th, in the same latitude, and some eighty miles east of San Roque, I was astonished to see the same or a similar monster. It was throwing its head and about forty feet of its body in a horizontal position out of the water as it passed onwards by the stern of our vessel. I began musing why we were so much favoured with such a strange visitor, and concluded that the band of white paint, two feet wide above the copper, might have looked like a fellow-serpent to it, and, no doubt, attracted its attention While thus thinking, I was startled by the cry of "There it is again," and a short distance to leeward, elevated some sixty feet in the air, was the great leviathan, grimly looking towards the vessel. As I was not sure it was only our free board it was viewing, we had all our axes ready, and were fully determined, should the brute embrace the Pauline, to chop away for its backbone with all our might, and the wretch might have found for once in its life that it had caught a Tartar. This statement is strictly true, and the occurrence was witnessed by my officers, half the crew, and myself; and we are ready, at any time, to testify on oath that it is so, and that we are not in the least mistaken A vessel, about three years ago, was dragged over by some sea-monster in the Indian Ocean.

GEORGE DREVAR, Master of the Pauline.
Chittagong, January 15, 1876.

Captain George Drevar, of the barque Pauline, appeared on Wednesday morning at the Police-court, Dale-street, before Mr. Raffles, stipendiary magistrate, accompanied by some of his officers and part of the crew of the barque, when they made the following declaration:—

“We, the undersigned, captain, officers, and crew of the barque Pauline, of London, do solemnly and sincerely declare that on July 8th, 1875, in latitude 5° 13´, longitude 35° W., we observed three large sperm whales, and one of them was gripped round the body with two turns of what appeared to be a large serpent. The head and tail appeared to have a length beyond the coils of about thirty feet, and its girth eight or nine feet. The serpent whirled its victim round and round for about fifteen minutes, and then suddenly dragged the whale to the bottom, head first.


“Again, on July 13th, a similar serpent was seen about two hundred yards off, shooting itself along the surface, head and neck being out of the water several feet. This was seen only by the captain and one ordinary seaman.

“A few moments after, it was seen elevated some sixty feet perpendicularly in the air by the chief officer and the following able seamen, Horatio Thompson, Owen Baker, William Lewan. And we make this solemn declaration, conscientiously believing the same to be true.


Some confirmation of Captain Drevar's story is afforded by one quoted by the Rev. Henry T. Cheeves, in The Whale and his Captors. The author says:—
“From a statement made by a Kinebeck shipmaster in 1818, and sworn to before a justice of the peace in Kinebeck county, Maine, it would seem that the notable sea-serpent and whale are sometimes found in conflict. At six o'clock in the afternoon of June 21st, in the packet Delia, plying between Boston and Hallowell, when Cape Ann bore west-south-west about two miles, steering north-north-east, Captain Shuback West and fifteen others on board with him saw an object directly ahead, which he had no doubt was the sea-serpent, or the creature so often described under that name, engaged in fight with a large whale. . . . .
“The serpent threw up its tail from twenty-five to thirty feet in a perpendicular direction, striking the whale by it with tremendous blows, rapidly repeated, which were distinctly heard, and very loud, for two or three minutes; they then both disappeared, moving in a south-west direction; but after a few minutes reappeared in-shore of the packet, and about under the sun, the reflection of which was so strong as to prevent their seeing so distinctly as at first, when the serpent's fearful blows with his tail were repeated and clearly heard as before. They again went down for a short time, and then came up to the surface under the packet's larboard quarter, the whale appearing first, and the serpent in pursuit, who was again seen to shoot up his tail as before, which he held out of water for some time, waving it in the air before striking, and at the same time his head fifteen or twenty feet, as if taking a view of the surface of the sea. After being seen in this position a few minutes, the serpent and whale again disappeared, and neither was seen after by any on board. It was Captain West's opinion that the whale was trying to escape, as he spouted but once at a time on coming to the surface, and the last time he appeared he went down before the serpent came up.”

Several authors have stated their belief that the crew of the Pauline had witnessed a struggle between a sperm whale and a giant squid, with the tentacles of the squid presumed to be the loops of the "Serpent" and the whale diving head-down at the end in order to finish his meal. Bernard Heuvelmans in his classic In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents (1968) does push for the notion that this was a sighting of what he calls a "Super-eel" fighting a whale by constriction.

Heuvelmans has not done the math.

In order for a long snake or eel to get two loops arround the whale's body and to have a thirty-foot length before and after the loops (noting that the before and after segments alone are worth the length of the entire whale), the gigantic eel has got to be at least 180 feet long, pushing 200 feet: and since its girth (not diameter) is seven or eight feet, the diameter is something like 2 1/2 feet, the creature ends up with a length 64 times its diameter. or close to it.

Furthermore the Delia account is not only similar, it is very nearly the same excat story over again. At which point nothwithstanding the weight of the swon testimony, I am inclined to call both stories hoaxes. The easier way out is to agree that the sailors could have been watching combats between sperm whales and retelling with some exaggeration.

There was a separate series of reports from New Caledonia in1923 and which Heuvelmans calls a fight between a giant squid and a "Merhorse" (ibid, pp.414-415) in this case, the definite "Merhorse" reports were made separately several days before and it seems some native women confused different reports together in the retelling. The "Merhorse" reports had been coming since June and the "Fight" was "on September 22 and also the 30th" the confusion of dates a week apart alone gives just cause to suspect that different events were jumbled together in local memory. At any event, the Policeman Millot's account does describe three whales (he thought like sperm whales but bigger) and in indian file (three 60-foot-humps in a line again) but what seems to have been a fight with a giant squid was going on at the time.

The story is very similar to the Pauline and I would suggest that in the squidfight, there was no "Merhorse" involved, only some sperm whales.

In these cases the "Head and Tail" were seen flailing about while egaged in fighting the whale, and they were showing above water as being entwined around the whale. So that is not the same thing as a squid in the water hoisting its arms high into the air unaided. It may be beyond the squid's limit of strength to be able to do that unaided. Certainly some authorities have maintained that point. On the other hand, these sightings would tend to go against the notion that observers had not seen live giant squids at the surface in historical times: these would be unusual emcounters, and the squids probably in the process of being killed, but they would have been lively enough for the duration.

All sightings of this type together probably make up something like 1/2 of 1% of Sea-serpent sightings.

LINDSAY SELBY: The Cowichan River creature

Cowichan is situated beside the Cowichan River and is the second largest lake on Vancouver Island, measuring 34 km long and in places over 500 feet ( 166 metres)deep.

The people of Cowichan have a history of stories of a giant serpent-like creature that lives in the deepest parts of the lake. It is said to be over 50 feet( 16 metres) in length, with a very large head, furious eyes and an enormous mouth and teeth. The creature named Stin-Qua is said to be capable of swallowing whole canoes and their contents.. The first story I came across is from the Kaatza Station Museum and is by Nitinat Charlie:

There was an Indian encampment near where the March’s now live. In the camp was a very old woman who cautioned the young women to beware of the Stin-qua. Next morning three young men and three women set out in a canoe for Bald Mountain across the Lake. The men were left on the mountain to hunt deer and the women were to return for them later. The women were returning to the camp when one of the maidens stoop up in the canoe and, waiving her paddle said that she was not afraid of the Stin-qua. Almost immediately it began to get dark, the wind roared and the Stin-qua rushed through the water and swallowed the canoe and all the women. The Stin-qua disappears from the lake by an underground passage down the West Coast.

At the time it was thought to be just a legend but then reports started to appear.

The following report appeared in the Cowichan Leader newspaper on Thursday, June 12,1930: ( extracts from the report)

Is there a giant water serpent in Cowichan Lake similar to the reputed Okanogan Lake Ogopogo? There are of course, many doubters, but the mass of evidence from reliable sources has grown to such an extent that there would appear little question about there being one or more large serpents in the waters of the lake. Some time ago The Leader gathered information from various people who had seen this unusual fish and without exceptions the witnesses are most emphatic that this thing actually exists. They are anxious, also to come across it again and photograph or capture it so as to have proof of the “fish story” A new interest has been aroused in this strange reptile by the report from Mr. C. E. Cauldwell (Cougar Charlie) that last week he saw the serpent.Mr. Cauldwell and Mr. Fred Fillinger, planer foreman of the Industrial Mill, Youbou, were together at the time on the shore at the head of the lake. The serpent was distinctly seen swimming Interested in the fishing, nothing more unusual was noticed until Mr. Jarvis, looking around saw about eight feet of tapering neck and a serpent like heard standing straight out of the water.He called to Dr. Hill to look at the “apparition” and at the same time reached for his gun. Difficulty in locating his ammunition was responsible for the fact that he did not obtain a more tangible souvenir. The serpent kept it’s neck up for about four or five seconds then moved it’s head back and forth and disappeared with a serpentine motion of the body which could be seen for several seconds. The tail did not come into view although it was two or three seconds before all the body had wriggled out of sight. The main portion of the body appeared to be about a foot thick.. It appeared to them to be of a whitish color. Mr. Norman G. Thomas, proprietor of theRiverside Inn, Lake Cowichan and Mrs. Thomas report having distinctly seen the ogopogo early in October between 8:30 and 8:45 am. It was a beautiful morning and they were taking a run up the lake in their speedboat when they sighted what appeared to be two logs. Steering to go between them they bypassed around the end of one long and were within the 60 feet of “the other log” when it suddenly bowed up the middle and disappeared with great commotion.Mr. Thomas states that, on another occasion when four tourists were also on board, a long neck about 10 or 12 feet above the water was sighted. He stopped the boat and in order to get a better view and what he saw looked like a large snake about 30 to 35 feet long.
On yet a third occasion Mr. Thomas obtained a glimpse of the ogopogo while taking a party up the lake.. Mr. Thomas says that Mr. Victor Rundquist is another former lake resident who has seen the serpent. He also relates the story of an old lake resident who tells of sighting the reptile while coming down the lake in a rowboat near shore. This man saw what he took to be a telephone pole lying in the water and thinking that it would come in handy at his cabin he went over towards it, intending to hitch on a towline. When within a few feet of it “ the pole” flopped tail and disappeared. This man, although he had seen the serpent the years previously did not tell anyone about it until he recounted the incident to Mr. Thomas following the latter’s first report of having sighted it. He thought that people would be too much tempted to believe that poor liqueur was responsible.Mr. Thomas and Mr. Cauldwell compared notes at the weekend and the latter’s observance corroborates the formers estimate that the length of the serpent is about 30 to 35 feet. Whether an authentic picture or the indisputable remains will ever be obtained is left for the future to disclose.

Sawmill workers at Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island reported seeing a large lake creature during the 1960s and a local fisherman, also in the 1960s,said he hooked something that pulled him and his boat around the lake for an hour.

So a large eel or water snake? There seems to have been no recent sightings I could find but an interesting tale nevertheless and the descriptions match many others in other lakes around the world. What sort of creature can stand up in water like that, like a telegraph pole? I suspect it is something undiscovered because I don’t think eels can do that though some snakes rear up such as cobras. If anyone has any theories please post a comment.


Bloggo sub-editrix Clare-Elizabeth "Lizzy" Clancy is in hospital having injured her ankle falling downstairs.

She had an operation on friday, and according to her boyfriend Paul, should be back in circulation early next week. More news when we get it, but in the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with you dear..


Proof, as if any proof were needed, of the magickal powers of the blog. A few weeks ago I bemoaned the fact that I couldn't get any of my favourite barbecue sauce in this benighted country.

No sooner than I had done so than bloggofolks Colin and Julie Banks wrote in with the name of a place where I could buy it imported. And the rest is history.

(On the lower picture, see how Biggles's tail is wagging enthusiastically at the thought of succulent, barbecued sausages)...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, Happy Summer/Winter solstice (according to what hemisphere you find yourself in today) and good luck to anyone in Plymouth raising money for Cancer Research as part of Race for life today.
And now, the news:

Have you seen a leatherback turtle off Dorset coast
Bear attack
Five tonnes of illegal 'bushmeat' being smuggled
Insects That Can't Beat Them Scare Them
Competition Puts The Brakes On Body Evolution
Over 5,000 Turtles Destroyed Annually In Sri Lanka
Ancient legends once walked among early humans?
Whale Poop Cleans the Environment
Cryptic worms encountered outside Sweden
Angler pulls piranha from pond

Well there’s getting a bite and getting a bite…

LINDSAY SELBY: Warm-Blooded "Sea Dragons"?

Perspectives Paleontology:
Warm-Blooded "Sea Dragons"?
Ryosuke Motani

When dinosaurs roamed the land in the Mesozoic (251 to 65 million years ago), the top predators in the ocean were reptiles (1, 2). Three lineages of Mesozoic marine reptiles (plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and mosasaurs) were especially successful (2) (see the first figure). They were similar to current marine mammals in many respects. They fed on fish, cephalopods, bivalves, and other air-breathing vertebrates (1). Ichthyosaurs evolved dolphin-like body plans. Plesiosaurs became underwater fliers, vaguely resembling sea lions (2, 3). It now appears that similarities to today's marine mammals extended further: On page 1379 of this issue, Bernard et al. (4) report that some ancient reptiles may have been able to sustain a constant body temperature (i.e., homeothermy).

Department of Geology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

Source: www.sciencemag.org. Science 11 June 2010:
Vol. 328. no. 5984, pp. 1361 - 1362
DOI: 10.1126/science.1191409

Unfortunately I can’t publish the rest of the article as this is the only free bit. I have however read it and it is interesting in that it would mean such creatures could survive in colder waters.



Solitary and sluggish,
at the bottom of a pool in Sir Cuthburt`s estate
his manse,crumbling and overgrown with weeds,
surrounded by Irish republicans,
eager for vengeance,justice.
The tadpole waits.

All of those rebels, battle hardened,
faces set against the wind, like flint,
except for Seamus,eighteen, drafted into weapons,
reluctantly: this cutting cruelly
against his sweeter nature.

Instead of bullets he sees birds,
besides bayonets, he breathes butterflies,
trembling, he dreams tadpoles.

The legendary Tralee golden tadpole (c.1920)
at least legendary since Seamus heard the craic about it three weeks ago around
the fire one night at the Green Flag.
Now, in the midst of explosions
he dives for shelter behind a wall of flint and stumbles across
the dense lead coloured surface of a pond,
simultaeneously glimpsing a yellow-golden flash
of tail which fires up in Seamus all the joys of discovery and life.

One amber coloured tadpole
and Seamus the only survivors of
Sir Cuthburt`s friends in the
Black and Tans militia.

Ninety years later in a bottle in
the Green Flag, the tadpole lies.
I challenge you adventurers and dreamers-go find it and on
finding it,dream!

© Richard Muirhead