Sunday, January 16, 2011
A Nessie-serry rhyme from Karl Shuker.
The Northwest Coast area is that part of the Pacific coast between Southern Alaska and Northern California. In anthropological terms this is a distinct cultural area with an economy that thrives largely because of the abundance of annual salmon runs. It is also an area where there are a lot of sea-serpent reports in more modern times, which has also been linked to the abundance of salmon in the region.
Which is the source of much of the information floating around the internet on the subject. Swords defines a single type of Sea-monster on the basis of the Traditional Wasco or Wasgo, the Sea-Wolf, the Sisiutl or two-headed sea-serpent, and the more crocodylian or dragon-like Haietlik. Because of his equation, several "Monster Encylopedias" speak of them all as equivalent. They are not the same but they are often very much confused with each other. Swords also equates all of the types with Mackal's version of the freshwater monsters of the area, which Mackal calls Naiatakas, and he uses Mackal's identity for the creatures, a sort of longnecked zueglodon. At the same time, he includes the Pal-Rai-Yuk along with the other "Monster" types while Mackal uses that Traditional creature to explain Steller's Sea Ape.
My own independant research into Sea Wolves came about because I was researching possible Folkloric connections to Steller's Sea Apes. I found several references to Seadogs or Waterdogs, which appeared to be the same as the Sea Apes and appeared to be large otters, generally corresponding to the reports of the Irish Master-Otters in size and shape. And then again there were the stories of the Sea Wolves or Sea Bears, Wasco. They were supposed to chase, capture and eat whales. At the time I thought the "Sea Wolf" description matched up with the Seadogs, except for the size, and so I said the battles must be some sort of Shamanic conflict in which the Totems are all imagined to be of more-or-less equivalent size. Like Japanese Giant Monster movies. I also mentioned that Thunderbirds were also imagined as being of large enough size to do battle with killer whales similarly to the Sea Wolves, and the actual reports we have of "Thunderbirds" are ordinarily nowhere nearly that big.
At that time I had not considered that there was a confusion between the different Seamonster types and that basically a reference to the smallest kind was transferred to the largest kind owing to a similar, overall lizard-shaped, body plan. The smallest kind is also indicated under the name "Sea Serpent" in the art print indicated at the top (Haietlik) and this name is also used elsewhere to name the "Sea-Alligator" spoken of locally
and also the largest kind of Wasgo or WhaleEater. The smallest kind is only something like two or three meters long overall, perhaps up to four, and is clearly the same as the basically otterlike Waterdog (said to have sharp ears and a sharp snout as in Steller's Sea Ape AND as the definitive marks of the Irish Master-Otter) The biggest kind is sometimes said to be a hundred feet long, maybe more, and the intermediate kind is obviously a version of Bernard Heuvelmans' Marine Saurian. I believe the WhaleEater is actually the largest kind of Marine Saurian and that it came to be called the same as the "SeaWolf" through a basically similar shape and through an overly-generous classification system which allowed all the SeaMonsters to be spoken of interchangeably.
"Whale-Eater" is a name that turns up in different places and it is the same as the largest Taniwha. That would be what Shuker calls the Leviathan, and both Shuker and I think that is a very large Mosasaur, the same type of creature as killed by the crew of the Monongahela. The Monongahela creature had remains of a large shark and a pilot whale in its stomach. It is apparantly adapted to take prey in that size range and whalers have reported it following after small pods of whales, no doubt with the intention of snatching young ones if possible. For this reason I do refer to it as a "Cetiovore" (Whale-eater), but as yet this is only informally.
The Sisiutl is something different and it may be related to the Longer-necked SeaSerpent types seen more commonly in the area in more modern times. Incidentally, one of the petroglyphs reporduced here seems to be of the Long-necked sort, number 71. I shall review the Sisiutl images in a second part to follow this, but it seems on the face of it to have nothing to do with the more lizard-shaped seamonster reports we are talking about here. I do think that the "Naiataka" petroglyphs from Vancouver Island which Mackal mistakenly placed near Lake Okanogon ARE meant to represent the Longnecked types BUT they are stylized along the lines of other petroglyphs intended to be Wasgos (the Whale-Eaters)
[Petroglyphs are from the internet site:
All photos taken from various internet sites and reproduced here for educational purposes. No copyright infringment is intended or should be inferred ]
I have often wondered whether every country in the world has its own mystery animal and if they have, whether it would be possible to travel around the world by following reports of cryptids. The more I thought about it the more feasible it seemed. In the next few weeks I will attempt to do this whilst trying to keep the types of animals as mixed as possible. Where better to begin than at the bottom, so I shall start in Antarctica, or rather in the seas in the region.
Not that long ago, back in 1980, Russian researchers A. Berzin and V. L. Vladimirov were at Prydz Bay when they had a sighting of an unknown Antarctica killer whale. They would later name their mystery killer whale Orcinus glacialis. Since then there have been questions raised as to whether this is really a subspecies of the killer whale Orcinus orca; I suppose until one is examined we won’t know for sure.
So where next? Well, how about a short swim across to South America and a continent full of mystery animals? Next stop: Argentina.
Raheel Mughal: The mystery animals of Pakistan
John Hanson/Dawn Holloway: The Haunted Skies project
Glen Vaudrey: The Waterhorse
Paul Vella: Changing perception of UFOs
Max Blake/Dr Darren Naish: The new British Lynx
Henry Hartley: Fortean aspects of the modern Maya
Nick Wadham: Giant spiders
Richard Freeman et al: The India expedition
Jeremy Harte: TBA
Ronan Coghlan: TBA
More speakers will be announced in the next few days/weeks. However, we can announce that once again the children's area is being run by Clan Curtis from Seaham-on-Sea, and the animal handling will once again feature Bugfest from Yeovil.
Advance tickets are only a recession-busting £20 a pop, so buy now:
Terence Hanbury White AKA T.H. White died on this day in 1964. He is best known as the author of his re-visioning of the Arthurian legends, The Once And Future King.
And now, the news:
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Boy (13) miraculously escape crocodile’s jaws
It's a tradition or an old charter or something: