In June 1877 the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty received official reports from the Royal Yacht Osborne, forwarded by Commander Pearson, regarding the sighting of an unidentified marine creature seen on the second day of that month off Cape Vito, Sicily. The documents were passed on to Right Hon. R. A. Cross, Secretary of State for the Home Department, who in turn sought the opinion of Frank Buckland in an attempt to identify whatever it was that had been seen and Buckland further consulted Professor Richard Owen, Mr. A. D. Bartlett of the Zoological Gardens, Captain David Gray of the whaling ship Eclipse and Mr. Henry Lee of the Brighton Aquarium on the matter.
|The Royal Yacht Osborne|
Commander Pearson’s report read: -
“I myself saw the fish through a telescope, but at too great a distance (about 400 yards) to be able to give a detailed description; but I distinctly saw the seal-shaped head, of immense size, large flappers, and part of a huge body.”