Encyclopaedia of Cryptozoology
Freshwater octopus
Proposed scientific names
Other names Guidiara, miga
Country reported Benin, Botswana, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger
First reported
Prominent investigators Bernard Heuvelmans

Freshwater octopuses have been reported from parts of Africa, most notably the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they are called the miga. Such animals have also been cited as possible explanations for certain other African cryptids.[1]


The French explorer Raymond Colrat de Montrozier (1872 – 1931) gathered accounts of octopus-like animals in the Central African Republic during his 1898–1899 expedition there. He was told that the Mbomou River was home to...[2][1]

An extraordinary animal that has the shape of a fish, the head of a woman, and tentacles of a kind, with which it sucks the blood if those it can seize. It then squeezes out the brains, and abandons the rest of the body.

Colrat realised that the description was heavily-mythologised, but felt that there could be some truth to it, as he had received accounts of a similar animal in what is now Benin, particularly the Grand-Popo Lagoon.[2][1] At around the same time, Charles-Alexandre d'Ollone (1865 – 1918), during his 1898–1900 West African expedition, was told by locals that a bellowing animal always described as octopus-like existed in the Niger River.[3]

Stories of octopuses in the Uele River of the extreme north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo have circulated since 1900. In that year, a Belgian officer of the Congo Free State claimed that an octopus called the miga was frequently found in the river near Amadi, where it hid in rocky crags and often capsized canoes. The miga was alleged to grab men, drag them underwater, and suck out their brains. The Belgian officer once found the body of a man who had been reported taken by a miga the previous day; supposedly, his nostrils were extraordinarily swollen, and his brain was missing. However, according to Marc Micha of Kivu, Uele locals always identified the miga with images of manatees. In 1959, J. Martin of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences told Bernard Heuvelmans that the Dungu River, an affluent of the Uele in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Haut-Uélé Province, was suspected of harbouring octopuses.[1]

Eleanor Wilkin told Bernard Heuvelmans in 1959 that there were stories of "octopuses" existing in the Makadikadi Basin in Botswana, a large salt pan which was once a Great Lake, and which is seasonally-flooded. Other, distinct cryptids reported from Africa have sometimes been identified as freshwater octopuses. Bernard Heuvelmans observed that the lau of the White Nile marshes was described as having tentacles, and a freshwater octopus was one explanation for the bioluminescent monster of the Umguza dam.[1]


Marc Micha wondered if the miga could be explained by a species of giant catfish, which Bernard Heuvelmans theorised was the identity behind the similarly-tentacled lau of the White Nile marshes. Most catfishes have prominent barbels or "whiskers," which could be mistaken for tentacles.[1]

Heuvelmans, however, believed that reports of the Dungu River monster and the miga, alongside the auli and the Lake Yoan monsters, referred to sirenians. Africa's only known freshwater sirenian, the West African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis), is known mainly from estuaries and the lower stretches of rivers, but its presence in the Upper Congo and Uele Rivers has been reported historically, and it is known from the nearby Chad Basin.[1]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Heuvelmans, Bernard (1978) Les Derniers Dragons d'Afrique, Plon, ISBN 978-2259003872
  2. 2.0 2.1 Colrat de Montrozier, Ramond (1902) Deux Ans Chez les Anthropophages et les Sultans du Centre Africain
  3. d'Ollone, Charles-Alexandre (1901) Mission Hostains-D'Ollone 1898-1900. De la Côte d'Ivoire au Soudan et à la Guinée