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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Sunday, March 20, 2011




MICHAEL NEWTON: A “Blob” That Never Was

Several websites—led by Wikipedia, with others generally plagiarizing its text verbatim—claim that three globsters beached in Bermuda between 1988 and 1997. As described online, the first “Bermuda Blob” turned up at Mangrove Bay in May 1988 and was analyzed in 1995, “found to be the remains of a large shark.” “Bermuda Blob 2” surfaced in 1995, specific date and place unknown, and was identified in 2004 as “a large mass of adipose tissue from a whale.” Finally, “Bermuda Blob 3” arrived in January 1997 and was identified—again, in 2004—as “a large mass of adipose tissue from a whale.”1

So far, so good ... except that several aspects of the much-abbreviated tale are false.

First, analaysis of the first “blob,” published in April 1995, did not specifically identify it as shark tissue. Rather, the report deemed it to be pure collagen from “the skin of a poikilothermic [cold-blooded] vertebrate.” Based upon the size of the carcass, the analysts found it to be “easily within the size range of a large teleost or an elasmobranch”—that is to say, either some bony fish from the infraclass Teleostei (40 orders with 20,000 extant species) or some member of the subclass Elasmobranchii (sharks, skates and rays, with some 940 extant species in all). Nothing more specific was offered, beyond a firm determination that the sample had not come from a whale. In contrast, the flesh of another globster—beached at St. Augustine, Florida, in 1896—was identified as whale blubber.2

In passing, we must also note that the 1995 report misstated the date when “Blob 1” was discovered, placing it in “summer 1988” rather than May (the middle of spring).3 That minor negligence assumes greater importance as we search for “Blob 2.”

Information concering that second carcass was so vague online that I pursued it while researching Globsters, a forthcoming volume from CFZ Press. Specificallly, I contacted the Bermuda National Library, in hopes of pinning down the date when it surfaced. To my surprise, librarian Ellen Hollis reported that local newspapers contain no mention whatsoever of a carcass found at any time in 1995. Neither do library archives at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo. In fact, it seems that “Bermuda Blob 2” did not arrive until January 1997. In short, it was identical to “Bermuda Blob 3”—and “Blob 2” never existed!

How was the second globster fabricated? It appears to be the result of a typographical error, found in a June 2004 report comparing two Bermuda carcasses with three other globsters discovered in Florida, Massachusetts, and Tasmania. The new report’s five authors included three who collaborated on the April 1995 article.3
While citing their earlier study repeatedly, the authors claimed that “Bermuda Blob 1...washed onto Bermuda in 1995,” rather than 1988—an error that apparently deceived both Wikipedia’s anonymous contributor and all who followed after, plagiarizing his/her text.4

A more significant discrepancy arose in 2004 from microscopic comparison of the five globster samples—which, once again, included flesh from the 1896 St. Augustine carcass. This time, still citing their 1995 article as a reference, the authors claimed that “[t]he microscopic anatomy of all the carcasses...is virtually identical. These large masses consist almost entirely of pure collagen fibers arranged in cross-hatched layers, often perpendicular to each other. This arrangement is exactly that of the collagen fiber infrastructure of freshly preserved humpback
whale blubber.”5

So, what happened between 1995 and 2004 to alter the microscopic anatomy of “Bermuda Blob 1”? How was it transformed from the tissue of a cold-blooded fish into humpback whale blubber? And how can authors of the June 2004 report cite contradictory findings from their own April 1995 article to support the later claim that all five globsters were “nothing but whales”?6

The rest—at least for now—is silence. But we know one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt: there was no 1995 “Bermuda Blob.” The local carcass-count stands at two, until such time as the Atlantic Ocean yields another mystery.


Three “Bermuda Blob” photos from Wikipedia:

1. “Bermuda Blob 1,” May 1988.
2. “Bermuda Blob 2,” actually beached in January 1997.
3. “Bermuda Blob 2” on shore, misidentified as “Bermuda Blob 3.”


1 “Bermuda Blob,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bermuda_Blob.
2 Sidney Pierce, Gerald Smith Jr., Timothy Maugel and Eugenie Clark. “On the Giant Octopus (Octopus giganteus) and the Bermuda Blob: Homage to A. E. Verrill,” Biological Bulletin 188 (April 1995): 229.
3 Ibid., p. 220.
3 Sidney Pierce, Steven Massey, Nicholas Curtisi, Gerald Smith Jr., Carlos Olavarri’a and Timothy Maugel, “Microscopic, Biochemical, and Molecular Characteristics of the Chilean Blob and a Comparison With the Remains of Other Sea Monsters: Nothing but Whales,” Biological Bulletin 206 (June 2004): 125-133.
4 Ibid., p. 126.
5 Ibid., p. 127.6 Ibid., p. 125.


The India Expedition brought back several sets of samples last November. One was this bone, found deep in some caves. Lars Thomas confirmed to us a couple of days ago that it was from an adult human, and quite old. He is disposing of it with due reverence, but meanwhile... the search continues.


It might not be the Weird Weekend, but the University of Florida's Bee College is held annually at St. Augustine Florida, and looks like a great way to spend two days. I mention Weird Weekend because, like the CFZ, the Bee College encourages young people and amateurs to get seriously involved in studying animals. An important topic for discussion this year was native bees and how to encourage them to nest and act as pollinators. Learn more and get their brochure at:


BY POPULAR REQUEST: Andy Roberts' Badger Videos (2)

Robert Schneck wrote to me asking whether we could possibly post some of the videos that Andy Roberts has done of the badgers in his garden. We emailed Andy who was kind enough to post three of them on Youtube for us. Here is the second one:

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1958 Gary Oldman was born.
And now the news:

Knut is dead: Beloved polar bear collapses and die...
Hygienic sharks go to cleaners

Tell me what we're going to need?

DALE DRINNON: An irritating story


This tale of fraud, nudity and possible blackmail has nothing to do with cryptozoology. But we post it (and Dasle wrote it) to illustrate quite how far some people seem to be prepared to go in order to cause trouble on the internet...