The following is a list of alleged and circumstantial sea serpent sightings reported from the Indian Ocean and its marginal seas between 1946 and 1989, including the span of time identified by Bernard Heuvelmans as the Atomic Period.
J. Somerville (Kilindini, 1948)
During the late 1940s, a series of sea serpent sightings were reported from Kilindini Harbour, a deep inlet opposite Mombasa in Kenya. The animal had supposedly been known to local Africans for some time, but was not seen by a European until 1948, when two R.A.F. corporals, J. Somerville and another, claimed to have observed it round Christmas. According to Somerville...
K. A. Streets (Kilindini, 1948)
K. A. Streets told the press that he had seen the Kilindini monster shortly before Christmas 1948, from around forty yards away. He allegedly saw its back appear above the surface five or six times, as the animal wa undulating. Streets had never seen anything to compare it to.
A week after the J. Somerville (1948) sighting in Kilindini Harbour, at least two more Europeans, the crew of a ship, reported seeing the animal in the same part of the harbour one night. A carpenter named F. Connell was the first to notice it, in the form of a huge head which rose out of the water and caused a swell. The third engineer, Leslie German, rushed to the rail in time to see "a large indefinable mass" disappearing beneath the sea.
In late February 1949, a party of four bathers at Likoni, near the entrance to Kilindini Harbour, claimed they had seen a large animal, which they initially mistook for a huge buoy, around 50 yards offshore. They realised it was a living thing when it made away at top speed, covering some 500 yards against the current in less than a minute. The bathers described it as "the colour of beer with a broad back rising 2½ feet from the water and three feet across." Another resident of Likoni claimed he had seen the animal four times previously.
R. M. Richardson (Larrekeyah, ~1950)
In response to press reports of the Bynoe Harbour (1978) sightings published in 1980, R. M. Richardson of Batchelor in the Northern Territory of Australia wrote to the Northern Territory News, claiming that he had seen a similar animal some thirty years before, off the Larrekeyah Barracks in Darwin Harbour. He had been walking along the cliffs near the barracks when he saw what he thought were three logs in the sea. When "one raised its head which was serpent like, reminding me of a tiger snake ready to strike," he realised that they were in fact animals, each around 26 ft (8 m) in length. Richardson mentioned the sighting to Mick Driver, a local administrator at Government House, who claimed that these animals were occasionally seen on the coast.
According to Paul Cropper and Malcolm Smith, these animals could not have belonged to any known species, being too large for true sea snakes, and not resembling any other known animal. They suggest that these sea serpents were of the longneck or merhorse types, possibly the same species as those seen later in Bynoe Harbour.
Burge Brown (Bynoe Harbour, 1978)
In February 1980, Darwin sand prospector Burge Brown told the Northern Territory News that Bynoe Harbour, a narrow inlet southwest of Port Darwin, was a breeding ground for plesiosaurs, which he had seen during the monsoons for the previous seven years. His most recent claimed sighting had occurred during a fishing trip in 1978, when he and five other people, including police sergeant Kevin Maley, allegedly saw one swimming down the harbour, alarming the local marine life. According to the newspaper account of the sighting, which is criticised by Cropper and Smith, the party described the sea serpent as being around thirty metres long, with a "front like an elephant's trunk," a tail, and a double row of floppy dorsal fins.
Cropper and Smith describe the original report as reading "like a fisherman's tall story," but during an interview with Maley in 1989, Smith received a more down-to-earth telling of the sighting. According to Maley, the animal, which surfaced some 65 ft (19 m) away from the boat and remained still for twenty minutes before submerging again, was only around 25 ft (7 m) long, with an 8–10 ft (2–3 m) long vertical S-shaped neck, and three rows of floppy, crocodile-like serrrations on its back. Maley told Smith that the animal was not a crocodile, dugong, turtle, or shark; Cropper and Smith cautiously classify it as a longneck.
Terry Annesley (Darwin, 1980)
Five days after the Larrekeyah (~1950) sighting was reported in the Northern Territory News, Terry Annesley and John Hamilton, employees of Eagle Insurance, alerted the same newspaper by phone that there was currently a sea serpent in Darwin Harbour. Journalists Fred McCue and Dave Trounce, and photographer Keith Scott, joined the pair in the Hooker Building at the edge of the Harbour, and were able to observe what appeared to be a single eel-like animal out at sea, around fifteen metres long, with at least five dorsal fins according to Trounce. However, the object was too far away for the witnesses to be sure, or for Scott to photograph it with the lens he had brought.
When interviewed by Paul Cropper, Annelsey reported that he had seen the animal first, and had watched it for around two minutes before alerting Hamilton. By the time the journalists arrived, it was heading out towards the open ocean, but, using binoculars, they were still able to view it for around half an hour before it disappeared from view. He described it to Cropper as resembling sketches he had seen of the Loch Ness monster; black, around twenty metres long, showing a number of tire-shaped loops above the water, the number of which changed constantly.
Annesley was certain the animal was not a manta ray, nor a school of porpoises; he felt that it was a single animal. Due to the number of fins, Cropper and Smith suggest that it may have been a many-finned sea serpent, although they point out that the loops indicate vertical undulations, meaning it must have been a mammal.
Tiger Rocks (1947)
In late April 1947, a number of inhabitants of Merebank, now a suburb of Durban, in South Africa's Natal Province, claimed to have seen a sea serpent near the Tiger Rocks to the south. One unnamed citizen initially mistook it for a 60 ft (18 m) rock reef, only for the "reef" to begin undulating away. At around the same time, a party of bathers independently noticed a black object causing a commotion in the water further out to sea.
Harry Cheadle (Durban, 1947)
Around the end of August or the beginning of September, 1947, two harbour-pilots and the crew of the fishing tug Harry Cheadle reported seeing a sea serpent off Durban. They described it as a large animal, around 30 ft (9 m) long, more like a hippopotamus than any whale, "with projecting eyes, a great mouth, long teeth and with a bark." According to one of the harbour-pilots...
A sighting at nearby Isipingo later in the year also described a vocalising sea serpent. Heuvelmans, who regarded these accounts of sea serpent vocalisations as important, classified both as definite merhorses, which he believed to be giant pinnipeds, and which are often described as having bulbous eyes.
J. Kennedy (Isipingo, 1947)
J. Kennedy of Isipingo, south of Durban, claimed that in the first week of September, he saw a sea monster while walking along the beach at night. The animal, which rose out of the sea near the breakers, "brayed like a hundred donkeys" and sported eyes "like red searchlights." Like the earlier, equally vocal Harry Cheadle sea serpent, Heuvelmans classified this as a merhorse, the eyes of which are sometimes said to be strikingly red.
Golden Flame (East London, 1958)
The crew of the coaster Golden Flame, including an Ernie Stolz, claimed to have seen a sea monster off Chinsta near East London, in South Africa's Wild Coast region, in August 1958. "It reared up," resembling a "giant lion sitting up on its haunches," "stretched its neck, then looked at the coaster. After that it slowly sank down into the sea and swam off." According to information in Ivan T. Sanderson's files, it also had brown skin and a noticeably long neck. Heuvelmans, though unaware of this, classified the Golden Flame animal as a probable longneck or merhorse, both giant pinnipeds.
V. I. Titov (Before 1978)
According to an article he published in Znaniye — Sila↗, Soviet cetologist A. Kuzmin was told by fisherman and sailor V. I. Titov, his friend, that he had seen a pod of marine animals which he called "weevil whales," on account of their long snouts, in the Indian Ocean, between the twenty-fifth and thirty-fifth parallels south. He allegedly observed a family group of six to seven animals, including some small individuals which he guessed were calves, and described them as being between five and six metres long, light brown in colour, spouting vapour like whales, and with snouts or heads which accounted for about a third of their total length.
Titov believed that these animals were identical to a sea serpent he had allegedly seen in the Pacific Ocean in 1978, but he described this differently, as being striped strikingly in black-and-white. However, Kuzmin believed that both the weevil whales and the Pacific sea serpent were surviving ichthyosaurs (~250–90 MYA), marine reptiles which are only very rarely seriously cited as explanations for sea serpents. Grigori Panchenko suggests that the weevil whale may be identical with the Ambon (1904) and Java (1906) sea serpents, long-jawed, crocodile-headed sea animals seen off the Horn of Africa in the tropical Indian Ocean, usually considered either marine saurians or crocodile-shaped cetaceans.
A. B. Fedorov (1980s)
Another Soviet sailor, dry cargo vesselman A. B. Fedorov, reported observing a pod of five weevil whales in the Indian Ocean sometime during the 1980s. All he initially saw was the animals' light brown backs and the vapour they spouted, but he could tell they were not any animal he had seen before. He later noticed that they had long jaws bristling with teeth, and large encircled eyes.
Notes and references
- Heuvelmans, Bernard (1968) In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents, Hart-Davis, ISBN 9780246643124
- "Monster is Seen in East Africa," The Evening Advocate (11 March 1949)
- Cropper, Paul & Smith, Malcolm "Some Unpublicized Australasian 'Sea Serpent' Reports," Cryptozoology, Vol. 11 (1992)
- "Sea Monsters Reported to Be Cruising off Natal," Sunday Times (7 September 1947)
- "Un Monstre Marin Ressemblant à un Lion," La Dernière Heure (30 August 1958)
- "Marine Monster May Have Been Whales," Natal Mercury (1 December 1959)
- "Monster Sighted Off Africa Coast," St Louis Globe-Democrat (27 October 1958)
- Swords, Michael D. (31 May 2011) Peeking at Ivan's SITU Files: Meaningless Reports of Sea Monsters: Part Two thebiggeststudy.blogspot.com [Accessed 16 August 2021]
- Kondratov, Aleksandr Mikhaylovich (1984) Dinozavra Ishchite v Glubinakh
- Panchenko, Grigori Konstantinovich (2002) Katalog Monstrov
- Drinnon, Dale A. "Revised Checklist of Cryptozoological Creatures," CFZ Yearbook (2010)
- Sidorenko, Andrey "Morskoy Yashcher, Kotoryy ne Zakhotel Vymirat," Anomal'nyye Novosti, No. 13 (2013)