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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In between each episode of OTT, we now present OTTXtra. Here are the last three episodes:


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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

MIKE HALLOWELL: The Shony revisited

It seems that I owe Mike Hallowell an apology. I have been sitting on this article for so long that I lost it and only found it by chance this morning...

Recently I penned a newspaper column regarding South Tyneside's very own sea monster, the Shony. I've accumulated a number of credible sightings of this beast stretching over a considerable period of time, and as most readers know, Jackie and I think we may very well have seen it ourselves during a visit to the coast.

Every now and then I receive information regarding a new sighting, or at least, new information regarding an old one.

The following account was written up in my book Mystery Animals of the British Isles: Northumberland & Tyneside (CFZ Press. 2008). The details of which were supplied to me by my friend Malcolm Urquhart. However, further information was given to me recently by my old friend, the author Alan Tedder, one of the north east's most knowledgeable researchers regarding myths and folklore.

On Friday, 17 August, 1906, a young man happened to be taking a morning dip at Seaburn when he had an alarming experience. The account found its way into The Sunderland Echo that very evening:

"Considerable sensation was created among some of the bathers at Seaburn this morning. A young gentleman who is a regular bather at the place and swims well returned from the water with a story that set all who heard it wondering".

In fact, the encounter caused a media sensation. By mid-afternoon thousands of locals had gathered along the shore to see if they could catch sight of the Shony. They were to be disappointed. What actually happened to precipitate such a reaction was this:

About thirty yards or so from the shore, the bather had decided he'd had enough for one day and planned to head for the beach. Ironically, if he'd made that decision just seconds earlier or later, he might have remained eternally oblivious to what was lurking in the water alongside him.

Suddenly the bather felt a heavy blow against his right arm. This wasn't a gentle tap; it actually paralysed his arm for several seconds, rendering it useless. Alarmed, and despite the fact that his arm was worse than useless due to the blow it was struck, he managed to strike out for the shore. Later he would tell reporters that his mind had conjured up, "visions of sharks and other ravenous denizens of the deep".

With some difficulty he eventually reached the beach. The chap later admitted that he was so "terrored" by the encounter that he found himself unable to look behind him to see what he had actually been attacked by. Several bystanders, seeing that the man was in some distress, went to his aid. He told them what had happened, and on examining his arm they found it to be badly bruised and bleeding from a laceration. As The Sunderland Echo reported, "it was quite apparent that his nerves had been severely shaken by his experience".

Suggestions were put forward later as to just what the bather might have encountered. Some suggested that he had merely collided with, "a piece of water-logged wood". It's not impossible, of course, but the man himself certainly didn't seem to think along those lines. He was convinced that he'd encountered a large, living creature.

When questioned later the bather claimed that whatever had hit him had been, "travelling very fast".

Seaburn is, of course, merely a hop, skip and jump away from Marsden Bay, the alleged home of the Shony. Did the bather have a close encounter with this legendary sea monster? He wouldn't be the first – or the last. Sightings of the Shony have been reported at Blackhall Rocks in Cleveland, Seaburn, Whitburn, Marsden Bay, Tynemouth and further up the coast in Northumberland.

I intend to do another blog very shortly on a few other snippets of information that have come my way regarding the Seaburn encounter which give us a little more insight into the affair. I'm also planning to compile a database of sightings, so I'd really appreciate it if readers could send me details of any sea monster-type encounters they know of that have occurred in the North Sea, particularly those near the north east of England or Scotland. Detailed accounts are particularly welcome, of course, but even small, anecdotal recollections and second-hand stories will be greeted with enthusiasm.

When a website devoted to the Shony is launched (I'm working on it feverishly) all correspondents will be added to a Wall of Fame (or whatever) for their contribution.


Hi Jon

You may have seen this already, but...

I have a good friend who lives in Illinois and she sent me this link:

She says the ads are on all the time over there. Most weird. I can't imagine what's going on in the minds of these marketing departments. It seems if you eat beef jerky you will want to go taunting cryptids.



He thinks it is rather special, and if you are into softshell turtles (as are we) then it is hard not to agree with him..

LARS THOMAS: A little something for the blog

A wee spot of natural history. Now is the time to go dragonfly/damselfly a-hunting and a-spotting. And gorgeous creatures they surely are.

Here is one, and seen from the perspective of a fly or something similar, surely a monster as dreadful and terrifying as the ones CFZ is hunting for.


Kara Wadham sent us this tribute written by one of her pupils to his pet cat that someone just shot. Would we print it, she asked. Of course we would! It is always a privelige to post tributes to the late pets of bereaved children; it may actually be one of the few things we do that actually does some good in the world.

I had a cat called Smeagle
He was the most friendly cat in the whole world
He liked playing games, chasing cats
But most of all loved his cuddles,
And when I was in the bath
He loved to pop bubbles with me
When he was a kitten he watched the football with me
We will all miss Smeagle
But he will always be in my heart

Jay Gaylard, Buckklers Mead Community School

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1952 ufologist and ghost investigator Dan Aykroyd was born. As well as being the official Hollywood consultant for MUFON and holding an interest in many other paranormal subjects Aykroyd is probably most famous for his ‘day job’ as an actor, author and comedian, having co-created, written and stared in films such as ‘The Blues Brothers’, ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Coneheads’.
And now, the news:

'Sea monster' whale fossil unearthed
Woman blames vampire for car crash
Lost tortoise returns
Snappy accident as fisherman bags croc
Students: can we have our bum slapping lucky cow
Spiders shown to girls with arachnophobia
Moushached fish
Calif. woman says Chihuahua died saving her kids
Dogs aren't always man's best friend.
Ray's mythical monsters find a home

Well that’s a ‘ray’ of hope in the preservation of important cultural artefacts from the 20th century.