Encyclopaedia of Cryptozoology
<< List of sea serpent sightings in the Pacific Ocean (-1847)

List of sea serpent sightings in the Pacific Ocean (1892-1913) >>

The following is a list of alleged and circumstantial sea serpent sightings reported from the Pacific Ocean and its marginal seas between 1848 and 1891, a span of time identified by Bernard Heuvelmans as the British Period.[1]

Northern Pacific[]

San Simeon Bay (1860)[]

According to the San Francisco Telegram of June 1860, a party of more than six men and women recently reported having a "good view" of a sea serpent in San Simeon Bay, San Luis Obispo County, California, an area now known for its elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) rookery. Allegedly observed from a distance of around two miles, moving swiftly with its head "high out of water," the sea serpent was estimated to be about 80 ft (24 m) in length.[2][3]

Ira Burdick (Half Moon Bay, 1860)[]

Ira Burdick, a California man residing near Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County, told the San Francisco Mirror in September 1860 that he had, the previous month, observed a sea serpent in the bay early one morning, from about a quarter of a mile's distance. It approached the bay from the south, then made a brief curve inland, crossed the mouth of the bay, and disappeared around a cape in the north. According to Burdick, who claimed to have had a good look at the animal during the ten-minute sighting, it moved quickly with vertical undulations, and held its head some 15–20 ft (4.5–6 m) above the surface of the sea.[4]

He estimates its length at two hundred and fifty feet and the largest diameter of the body at three feet. The head, he is confident, could not have been less than six feet in length and four in breadth.

Oakland Ferry (San Francisco Bay, 1861)[]

Unnamed passengers on the Oakland Ferry boat, which runs across San Francisco Bay in California, were reported to have seen a sea serpent like an elongated shark on 7 June 1861. According to the Daily National Democrat, the giant fish had the appearance of a serpent but the head of a shark, with fins close to its visible gills, and was only between 15–20 ft (4.5–6 m) in length. It moved through the water with a scudding motion.[5]

Florence (North Pacific, 1864)[]

Captain James F. Smith of New London told American naturalist William Orville Ayres (1817 – 1887) that, when he was a mate on the whaler Florence in 1864, under a Captain Stevens, he had seen a long-necked sea serpent in the Pacific, near the coordinates 48°N, 178°W–the temperate North Pacific, level with British Columbia and Sakhalin. The nearest land, several miles to the north, were the islands of the Aleutian Chain, specifically the Andreanof and Rat Islands. Stevens pointed the animal, which was "broad off the starboard beam," out to him during a heavy gale. Ayres paraphrased Smith's description in an 1882 article in Forest and Stream.[6]

He saw a large, round, elongated head, supported on a slender neck, the head bent forward so as to lie horizontally while the neck was vertical. As a heavy sea rolled over it the whole was buried, and then the next instant in the trough of the sea the head was perhaps six feet or more out of water. The distance he reckoned at about a cable's length (120 fathom), and all that he could observe, except the general form, was that the prevailing color was dark. Of the remaining portions of the animal he saw nothing, but what he saw he saw distinctly.

Sea Serpent (North Pacific, 1873)[]

The Sea Serpent, a well-known schooner which cruised the Pacific during the 19th Century, reported a sighting of the creature for which she was named on 5 May 1873, at the coordinates 29°38'3" 170°45', under a Captain White. The animal, which was genuinely snake-like, was observed swimming within 6 ft (1.8 m) of the ship. When it was further out to sea, it raised its head above the water to look at the ship. According to White, it appeared to be 50 ft (15 m) in length, but only 2 ft (0.6 m) in diameter, and was "deep brown" in colour. Around three minutes later, the Sea Serpent passed an identical animal, this one coiled up on the surface of the water, apparently asleep.[7] Such snake-like coils are a feature only rarely mentioned in reliable sea serpent accounts.[8]

Cygnet (Coronado Peninsula, 1873)[]

On 21 October 1873, Captain George Charlesworth of San Diego took three friends–well-known doctor Squills, President of the City Board of Trustees E. A. Veazie, and a J. M. Spencer–on a fishing and shooting trip along the coast, in his yacht Cygnet. While anchored off the Coronado Peninsula in Spanish Bight, which separated San Diego Bay from the Pacific Ocean, Charlesworth moved into the scrub to flush out some curlews (Numenius sp.) for the others to shoot. However, in a cove on the other side of the peninsula, he supposedly saw a sea serpent, later popularly referred to as a "serpent-fish," basking on the beach. He quickly returned to the party, bringing Squills to see the animal before it disappeared into the sea. Unusually, Charlesworth claimed that the sea serpent had three pairs of limbs, which he compared to the flippers of a sea lion.[9][10]

At the upper end of the cove a fine flock of curlew was seen digging around in the mud on a point, and Captain Charlesworth crawled through the thicket to get beyond them, so that when they rose and passed Dr. Squills he could get a shot too. He had been gone but a few minutes when Dr. Squills heard him call loudly for him. He ran forward as rapidly as he could through cactus and Spanish bayonet, and met the captain coming back in a very excited state.
In a few words Capt. Charlesworth told the doctor that he had seen a frightful monster, fully thirty feet in length, shaped like a snake, with three sets of fins, a tail like an eel's and a head like an alligator's. The head was a little wider than the neck, but very thick at the base, and had small eyes, which appeared to be covered with a film. The body was covered with a dark skin which assumed a yellowish cast on the belly. The three pair of fins were shaped like those of the sea lion, were each between three and four feet in length, the forward pair being much the heaviest, and situated about two feet back of the neck. Capt. Charlesworth thinks the monster was at least two feet in thickness from the head back to within twelve feet of the end of the tail from which point it tapered, and assumed the shape of an eel's tail. He said the terrible thing had drawn itself nearly out of the water, and was lying motionless on the sand when he first saw it. At his approach the serpent-fish raised its head and swung it directly towards him, and as he was not more than a couple of rods off, his only thought was to increase the distance.
The Captain says he obtained a full view of it and that he could not believe his sight until the monster moved its head towards him. Together he and the Doctor approached the spot cautiously with their guns in readiness to give the terrible creature the four shots. They reached the bank just in time to see the serpent-fish swimming into deep water with still a portion of his body in view. Both guns, which were charged with fine bird shot, were fired at him, and they think that several of the shot took effect. Messrs. Veazie and Spencer were signaled for, and when they came up they were shown the marks left in the mud by the monster. A careful watch was kept by the party for nearly an hour, but nothing was seen of the remarkable serpent-fish, and they think that he is still in the cove, which is about half a mile long by little over a quarter of a mile in width.

The sighting was reported in the San Diego Union the next morning; by midday, the story had created a "considerable commotion" among both laymen and the zoologists of the Academy of Sciences, before which the account in the Union was read out–according to secondary sources, Charlesworth and Squills personally described the animal to the Academy meeting.[11] Most of boat owners in San Diego, including the zoologists, swarmed the Coronado Peninsula hoping to get a glimpse of the animal, but the majority did not venture into the cove where it was seen. However, two youths, Charlie Kauffman of San Diego and Pete Thompson of Los Angeles, did sail to the cove, where they claimed to have seen the animal's back in the sea.[12] In later life, Kauffman always maintained that his story was true.[10]

Charlie Kauffman, of this city, and Pete Thompson, of Los Angeles, who happens to be here visiting, went prospecting for sights on the Bay yesterday. They are the only ones that we could learn of who went up into the cove, and they only sailed up part way. Charlie said they saw a terrible commotion in the water about a hundred yards from the point they reached. He said the water seethed and foamed and that a large black surface, resembling a whale’s back, was seen above the surface of the water several times. They came back to the city as they had promised a friend not to be gone long.

Later that day, the zoologists announced that they would lead an expedition to the cove to examine the scene of the sighting, and possibly take a cast of the marks left by the sea serpent in the wet sand, if they still remained.[12] They made this excursion on 24 October, and were able to examine the impression,[13] although the tides had deformed it too badly for a cast to be made.[11] The zoologists could not begin to classify the animal, and Charleswoth's sobriety and competence were consequently questioned,[10] but all four men insisted that there had been no alcohol on the Cygnet.[11] Some of the zoologists eventually concluded that the "serpent-fish" could have been a killer whale (Orcinus orca), which were common in San Diego Bay.[10] The sightings became well-known enough to warrant mentions in the foreign press, including the London Times, which claimed that Charlesworth had identified the animal as a relative of the plesiosaurs. The London Times also added horse-like ears.[10]

Los Angeles (Monterey Bay, 1876)[]

The California press reported a sighting of a giant eel-like sea serpent attacking a whale, similar to the Pauline and Kiushiu Maru sea serpents, in late May 1876. According to reports, the banker Darius Ogden Mills (1825 – 1910) and his family, alongside a journalist named H. J. Stevenson, observed the sea serpent from the steamer Los Angeles, between Santa Cruz and Monterey Light (i.e. in or outside Monterey Bay, "the Serengeti of marine life," later noted for sea serpent sightings), watching for around five minutes from a short distance. Although some paraphrased versions of the story alleged that the sea serpent had coiled itself around the whale,[14] like the well-known Pauline sea serpent reported the year before, this detail is not mentioned in Stevenson's account.[15]

W. H. Mills, W. B. Boyden and myself were together on the after part of the steamer when a monster thrust its head some twenty feet out of the water several times. The head was about two feet in diameter at the point where it intersected the water and was shaped like an eel, without having any fins that we could see. When first observed it was about 800 feet from the vessel and appeared to raise out of the water for purposes of observation. It seemed to be looking at the steamer and afterwards sighted a whale in the immediate vicinity, with which it soon engaged in deadly combat. In this fight the whale evidently got worsted and was either killed outright or left the sea monster the victor, as the serpent raised its head out of the water to the height of at least 40 feet, perhaps to discover a foe more worthy of its steel.

Coronado Islands (1877)[]

On 9 March 1877, fishermen from a Chinese ship docked in San Diego, in a state of manic agitation, claimed that they had seen a giant sea monster near the Coronado Islands, off Baja California. The animal was estimated at 50 ft (15 m) long, with a long neck and tail and a "reptilian head," which it bobbed up and down in the water in what was taken to be a feeding behaviour. It disappeared from view behind an island, and was not seen again. Local captains Gus Gregory and Jack Wall, who believed the fishermen, planned to search nearby kelp forests for the animal in the vessel Cuyamaca.[16]

Kiushiu Maru (Satanomisaki, 1879)[]

In 1879, Captain Davison of the Japanese steamer Kiushiu Maru sent an account of what he believed to be a sea serpent, observed off Cape Satano by himself and chief officer McKechnie, to the Graphic, alongside a drawing of the animal.[1]

Saturday, April 5th, at 11.15 A.M., Cape Satano distant about nine miles, the chief officer and myself observed a whale jump clear out of the sea, about a quarter of a mile away.
Shortly after it leaped out again, when I saw there was something attached to it. Got glasses, and on the next leap distinctly saw something holding on to the belly of the whale. The latter gave one more spring clear of the water, and myself and chief officer then observed what appeared to be a creature of the snake species rear itself about thirty feet out of the water. It appeared to be about the thickness of a junk's mast, and after standing about ten seconds in an erect position, it descended into the water, the upper end going first. With my glasses I made out the colour of the beast to resemble that of a pilot fish.
Kiushiu Maru sea serpent

Captain Davison's drawing of the Kiushiu Maru sea serpent (Public Domain).

Like the very similar case of the Pauline sea serpent, which was also allegedly observed fighting with a whale, the Kiushiu Maru sighting became relatively well-known in the 19th Century. Alongside the Pauline account, it was one of the sightings cited by palaeontologist Searles V. Wood, who, taking the fluked tail visible in the second drawing for the tail of the sea serpent, believed it to be a zeuglodontine whale.[1] A. C. Oudemans accepted it as a sighting of his longneck, but was concerned by the vague description of the colouration, as pilot-fishes are "generally grey with some hue of blue, brown, or purple".[17]

Heuvelmans wrote that, based on the drawing, the animal could have been either a longneck or a giant squid. He erred towards the giant squid explanation, arguing that an animal which fights with its jaws would have seized a fin rather than the belly. The pilot-fish colouration also agrees with a giant squid, which are often "grey shot with brown or purple".[1] Dale Drinnon finds this explanation implausible due to the thickness of the supposed tentacle or arm, instead classifying the animal as a super-eel, which he divides into two subtypes: the very large megaconger and the gigantic titanoconger.[18]

Oceanic (North Pacific, 1880)[]

Captain Thomas U. Brocklehurst of the Oceanic wrote to geologist R. P. Greg, a sea serpent investigator, to tell him that he had once watched a sea serpent during passage between Yokohama and San Francisco, in August 1881. Greg later made over his archive of sea serpent reports to A. C. Oudemans, who utilised them in The Great Sea-Serpent (1892).[1]

1880, August 11th. Sea smooth! Ther. 58. hot sun at noon. Lat 48.37, Long. 180. crossing from Japan to San Francisco. Sitting alone on poop of steamer Oceanic at noon, looking at flying fish, saw a long serpent in water 1 or 2 feet below surface, alongside the vessel, thought length 40 feet, circumference 2 to 5 feet, pale yellow colour, dark line on back and on ribs, head a little larger than body, could not see any fins, saw it for 5 or 6 minutes, and then mentioned it to friends on board.

Oudemans regarded this sea serpent as "without any doubt an eel-shaped fish".[17] Heuvelmans found the sighting problematic, but eventually classified it as a yellow belly, a tadpole-shaped type of sea serpent based mainly on the Nestor sighting, distinguished by its yellow and black colouration.[1] However, Heuvelmans later abandoned the yellow belly as a type.[19]

J. H. Hoar (Ningpo, Before 1881)[]

A J. H. Hoar of Shanghai, who worked as a pilot, told Charles Gould that he had once seen a sea serpent when at Ningpo, near the mouth of the Yangzte on the Chinese coast, where it had reportedly been seen before by locals. Gould subsequently included an account of Hoar's sighting in his book Mythical Monsters (1886).[20] Although the large eyes mentioned by Hoar initially suggested the merhorse to Heuvelmans, he eventually classified Hoar's sea serpent as a super-eel.[1]

He was at the time on the look-out for a vessel, from the top of the bank of Lowchew Island, Chinsang, on the southern side of the island fronting the six-mile passage. This island lies east of Worth Point. The hill he was on was about one hundred and fifty feet high, the snake distant about two hundred and fifty yards, the depth of water seven fathoms. His attention was directed to it by a group of Chinamen calling out "Shê," which means "snake." He saw it lying on the surface of the water, resembling two masts of a junk end to end, but with a slight interval. Presently it rose slightly, and then appeared all in one, extended flat upon the surface of the water. He examined it with his glass, and noticed the eye, which appeared to be as big as a coffee saucer, and slate-coloured. The head was flat on the top. He estimated the length at from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and forty feet.
He learned that it was the third occasion of its being seen in that place within eight years. An account was published in one of the local journals, by Mr. Sloman, from the statements of the Chinese observers. Mr. Hoar was prevented from doing the same by the fear of being ridiculed.

Frank Stannard (Strait of Juan de Fuca, 1881)[]

The first modern sighting of a sea serpent in the Pacific Northwest's Salish Sea – the first sighting in British Columbia since 1791 – was reported in 1881, when a twelve-year-old boy named Frank Stannard claimed to have seen one while canoeing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca with five friends. He described it as being about as long as five canoes, with a horse-like head devoid of ears. Stannard pelted the animal with stones from his slingshot, prompting it to disappear beneath the surface.[21]

Spanish Bight (1882)[]

Two Californian duck hunters told the San Diego Union in 1882 that they had seen "an enormous snake rise out of the water within a few yards of the shore" of Spanish Bight, near Coronado, in late January of that year. They described the animal, of which they saw around 20 ft (6 m) of body, as brownish, 3 ft (0.9 m) in circumference, with a head "as large as a nail keg" held more than 5 ft (1.5 m) above the water.[22][10]

Oceanside (1882)[]

A pair of California men named Sherron and Tunison, who lived on the seafront by the San Luis Rey railroad, in what is now Oceanside, reported multiple sightings of a sea serpent in the large offshore kelp forest or bed in early 1882. They described it laconically as 100–150 ft (30–45 m), and allegedly often saw it showing its entire body on the surface of the water, or "sporting about" among the kelp and nearer to the shore.[23]

Alaska (Alaska, 1884)[]

This section is about a suspected hoax
A significant portion of researchers who have investigated this sighting have supported the notion that it may be a hoax, but this may not be proven or universally accepted.

George Johnson of the whaler Alaska, which put in at San Francisco after a voyage in 1884, told the San Francisco Herald that the Alaska had harpooned a sea serpent off the south coast of its namesake state. As proof, the crew supposedly brought back the animal's large tail, which was put on display on the San Francisco waterfront.[1]

The whaling bark Alaska, which arrived in this port a few days ago from the Arctic Ocean, brings a strange story of the narrow escape from death of six of her crew. The first officer, George Johnson, stated the circumstances to a Chronicle reporter yesterday, as follows: On the 16th of last October, when the vessel was forty-six miles south of Alaska, an object was perceived in the distance whose proportions and shape indicated it to be a monster sea lion. A boat was immediately lowered and placed in charge of First Officer Johnson and five of the crew [Andrew Nelson, William Wilson, Antone Niaga, George Marshfield, and Hans Stuten]. As the distance was being decreased between the boat and the huge animal they became convinced that it was the famed sea serpent. When they came within a few hundred yards the monster made a mad dash for the boat, striking out its immense tail against the craft. Several of the occupants were precipitated into the water, and were rescued with difficulty. A harpoon and lance were fired into the body of the beast and it disappeared beneath the surface. Half an hour later it reappeared, floating on the water, dead. It was secured with ropes and towed to the vessel and hoisted on the deck. There the capture was seen to be a villainous looking thing. Its head closely resembled that of an alligator, while the body resembled that of a lizard. It measure thirty-three feet in length, the tail alone being nine feet long. The tail was cut off and stuffed and brought to this city and is now on exhibition in a water front saloon.

Later references to the story, in Australian and New Zealand media, identify the animal as a giant ichthyosaur.[24][25] One Australian writer claimed to know of four other sightings of sea serpents resembling ichthyosaurs, which he believed to be giant crocodile-like animals.[26] Heuvelmans regarded the account as a hoax; and, while accepting that the tail of some large animal may have been displayed, he argued that the crew would surely have brought back a more diagnostic body part had their description been accurate. Furthermore, the Alaska was likely large enough to bring back the entire carcass.[1]

J. M. Morris (Santa Barbara, 1885)[]

A Mr and Mrs J. M. Morris, of Santa Barbara in California, told the press that they had seen a humped sea serpent about two miles from the city on 26 March 1885. They had gone down to the coast for a drive and had stopped to admire the view of the Santa Barbara Channel, when their attention was drawn to what appeared to be a row of "barrels joined together" moving rapidly up the coast some half a mile away, between the breakers and the canopy of the offshore kelp forest. According to Morris, even when it moved closer, it exactly resembled a row of huge barrels, with "shining rings," but had a large and distinctly snake-like head, glistening black in colour, raised above the surface. Morris did not discern any undulations of the humps or "joints".[27]

When interviewed at his home by journalists, Morris, who was willing to sign an affidavit swearing his account was true, estimated that the sea serpent had been at least 80 ft (24 m) in length, and said that he did not know what it could have been, but that it most closely resembled a snake.[27]

I have had little or no experience with sea-serpents, but the thing looked like a big snake. There were at least twenty of the huge joints and they were from four to six feet long as I estimate. No, it had no horns. The head was shield-shaped, a serpent head. It moved with the velocity of a train of cars; seemed to have business up the coast, was headed directly for the wharf. It looked frightened and I think could not have passed through the kelp ... The strangest part of the sight was the evenness of the dimensions. Instead of terminating in a slender point the tail was the same size as the middle joints, and seemed to dip, or disappear under water, leaving the impression that the creature was much longer perhaps than was shown out of water.

Garden City (San Francisco Bay, 1885)[]

The New York Times reported a sea serpent sighting in San Francisco Bay, California, in 1885. The animal was reportedly seen on 27 March, just a day after Morris' sighting in Santa Barbara, by passengers on the ferry Garden City, including banker J. P. Allen, who described it. Some suggested that the ferry had simply struck a spar floating in the bay, temporarily forcing one end out of the water.[28]

According to the statement of J.P. Allen, of the Bank of California, he and several other residents of Alameda were standing on the deck of the ferryboat Garden City yesterday morning, at about 8:00 o'clock, about midway between Alameda and Goat Island [Yerba Buena Island], when a huge black monster suddenly raised its head and neck from the water to a height of about 10 feet, opened its jaws, displaying a mouth two feet wide filled with rows of sharply pointed teeth, and after taking a curious glance at the passing steamer plunged again into the water, at the same time elevating a sixty-foot tail, with which it thrashed the water for some time, after which it made off in the direction of the Alameda baths, near which some fishing boats were anchored.

Chambers (National City, 1886)[]

According to the San Diego Union, Edward Chambers of the California Southern Railroad, his wife, and four other clerks claimed to have observed a sea monster in South Bay, off National City, on 24 September 1886. Mrs Chambers was the first to notice the animal, moving south with a "burrowing motion," and quickly summoned her husband and the others. The group watched the sea serpent for several minutes, and described it as "fifty feet in length, with a head," raised 3 ft (0.9 m) out of the water, "three or four feet long, much the shape of a mammoth bull-head," and a fishlike tail. They were especially struck by the great speed at which it swam.[29][10]

Coronado Peninsula (1887)[]

A number of men at the Coronado Beach Hotel claimed to have seen a very large, whale-like sea serpent on the morning of 20 July 1887. The first to notice the animal was an unnamed carpenter working on the hotel, who saw "a great monster of a most peculiar appearance lying on the water about a quarter of a mile off the shore". He alerted his fellow workmen, who were all able to observe the animal as it swung its tail around, lashing the water into a foam, and occasionally rolling onto its back. The group, who estimated its length, "as near as [they] could judge," at 200', described it as having a white and red underside, and a "narrow ridge" running down its back, "broken at regular intervals by horn-like protuberances". Its head was diamond-shaped and tapered into a long, pointed snout, and one of the witnesses, who watched the animal through a telescope, claimed that its jaws sported a double row of sharp teeth. Its tail was very large and ended with two flukes or "forks," as in a whale.[30]

While they were observing the animal, it suddenly breached, throwing itself into the air and then disappearing beneath the surface; the spectators believed it had been spooked by something. A few minutes later, it reappeared further out to sea, swimming slowly, then disappeared for good before the group was able to give chase in a boat. Opinions were divided regarding the animal's identity. Some claimed that it was not an animal at all, merely a mass of seaweed, while some thought it was a whale of some kind, and a number of experienced sailors among the witnesses maintained that it was a sea serpent.[30]

Estrella (Oregon, 1888)[]

Another early Pacific Northwest sea serpent sighting, from the coast of Oregon, south of British Columbia and Washington, was reported very early in 1889. Captain Edgar Avery of the Estrella, sailing from Tacoma in Washington to San Francisco, claimed to have seen a hairy and scaly sea serpent which moved like a caterpillar near the mouth of the Umpqua River.[8][31]

Captain Edgar Avery, of the barque Estrella, while coming from Tacoma to this city with coal, descried the monster when the barque was passing the Umpqua River. The serpent, for such the captain solemnly declares it to be, was swimming on the surface of the water in a southerly direction. The barque at the time was headed south-south-east, and when the captain first noticed the reptile it was about 200 yards off, and was apparently not the least disconcerted by the proximity of the vessel. As it was 10 o'clock in the morning, and the sun was shining brightly, the startled captain had a good view of the serpent. When he was satisfied that he beheld a real live serpent, and not a creation of his imagination, the captain sprang below and got his rifle, calling to his wife and crew to come on deck and view the wonder. The lady and several of the crew came on deck and plainly saw the monster swimming by. He appeared to be about 80ft. long, and as big round as a barrel. He rode over the waves with is head and about 10ft. of his body elevated above water, every now and then dipping his immense head into the water, the body making gigantic convolutions while gliding caterpillar-like over the waves. The head was flat, or "dished," as the captain described it, and the body appeared to be covered with scales. About 10ft. of what might properly be called the neck was covered with coarse hair, resembling a mane. After viewing the monster for a time, the captain raised his rifle and fired several shots at it, but the bullets fell short. The sea serpent seemingly paid no attention to the shooting, but kept on his way. The excited spectators kept it in view for fully a half-hour, when, without any apparent flurry, it sank out of sight in the sea, and was not seen after.

S. M. Stewart (Howe Sound, 1890)[]

A lumberjack named S. M. Stewart reported observing what he believed could have been a sea serpent near his camp on Howe Sound, an inlet of the Strait of Georgia northwest of Vancouver, in British Columbia, during his return journey to that city in July 1890. He and his companions had been crossing over the sound at its mouth around sundown, when Stewart noticed what he took for "a peculiar looking log ... deep black color, straight from end to end as an arrow, and about seventy-five feet long," a couple of hundred feet away. Being lumbermen, and wondering what kind of tree it had come from, they rowed towards the object, only for it to sink "like a stone without the slightest noise" and disappear. After waiting for some time in case it reappeared, the party made off, only for the "log" to rise to the surface again on a different part of the sound, closer to the canoe. When they rowed towards it this time, it sprayed vapour or water and began to lash the water with its tail, seeing them off. Although it was observed spouting or blowing, Stewart was certain that the animal was no whale.[32]

Sehome (Puget Sound, 1891)[]

The steamer Sehome reported a sea serpent sighting in the Salish Sea's Puget Sound, near Port Williams in Clallam County, Washington, on 2 August 1891. The ship was just passing Port Williams when the quartermaster, H. B. Street, and pilot, George W. Doney, allegedly saw a "huge sea monster" 30–40 ft (9–12 m) in length swim by very rapidly on the surface. According to the report, both Street and Doney were regarded as reliable, trustworthy men. Street claimed that:[8][33]

I first thought it was a seal when I saw its head, but as it rose to the top of the water and I saw about ten feet of it clear out of the water I knew it was not a seal. Then when I noticed how it lashed the water with its tail I saw that it was a sea serpent thirty or forty feet long, and it left a hundred feet wake in the water behind it. As it passed around the bow of the boat it lowered its head and spread out a big fin on the upper part of its neck, just back of the head. It swam just like a snake and twisted itself through the water in regular snake fashion. I have been on the water a long time but never saw such a monster before. As soon as I saw what it was I called the pilot's attention to it, and he said at once that it was a sea serpent.

Tropical Pacific[]

Monongahela (South Pacific, 1852)[]

This section is about a suspected hoax
A significant portion of researchers who have investigated this sighting have supported the notion that it may be a hoax, but this may not be proven or universally accepted.
Main article: Monongahela sea serpent

In 1852, the crew of the whaler Rebecca Sims, recently returned from a Pacific voyage, told newspapers that another whaler, the Monongahela under Captain Jason Seabury, had reported encountering, harpooning, and flensing an enormous sea serpent in the South Pacific, close to what is now French Polynesia. A seaman had sketched the animal, and Seabury had preserved its head to be stored in a box onboard the Monongahela, but the ship never returned to the United States, disappearing in the Arctic later in the voyage.[34] A letter supposedly written by Seabury gave a detailed description of the sea serpent's appearance and dimensions, and a report he wrote, slightly different to the published letter, is held at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.[35][36][37] According to Seabury's letter, the Monongahela had killed a 103 ft (31 m) long serpentine male animal, with a distinct neck, four "webbed paws" or flippers, two blowholes, a black back and paler underside, a very thin layer of blubber, and an elongated head sporting a forked tongue and 94 curved teeth.[1]

Due to its dramatic circumstances, the story became well-known, and was the subject of several jokes in the British magazine Punch. However, the Monongahela account remains highly controversial, in part due to several mistakes made in early secondary sources.[34] It has been considered a hoax by Edward Newman,[38] Robert Froriep, A. C. Oudemans,[17] and Bernard Heuvelmans, the latter of whom referred to it as "by far the finest hoax" of the British Period.[1] Other cryptozoologists defend it, with Dale A. Drinnon citing it as one of the definitive sightings of the larger type of marine saurian, which he believes to be a mosasaur.[35]

Hugh de Bonelli (San Lorenzo Island, Before 1854)[]

The British traveller L. Hugh de Bonelli wrote of observing a large, elongated marine mammal with prominent tusks off San Lorenzo Island, in what is now Peru, in his book Travels in Bolivia (1854). He had been watching the sea from some steep cliffs when...[39]

... whilst watching from the dizzy heights its mirrored surface, my attention was directed to some strange animal, which I discovered to be one of those enormous sea-horses, to which I have already alluded, in speaking of the Island of San Lorenzo.
Its appearance, from the great elevation at which I beheld it, was extremely singular. Its body seemed to be of a prodigious length, and covered with a short, glossy coat. With the exception of two great white tusks, projecting from the mouth on either side, the form of its head resembled that of a seal. This monster swam about with great rapidity, at times showing the greater portion of his body above the water, and at other times disappearing from view altogether.

Bonelli believed that the animal was a "sea horse," a very large and common pinniped which he described as being hunted by British sailors on the shores of the island. As noted by John Edward Gray (1800 – 1875), Bonelli's description resembles a walrus (Odobenus rosmarus), found only in the cold regions of the Northern Hemisphere, although sightings have occasionally been reported from the south. Gray wrote that he would have identified the animals as sea lions (Otaria sp.), were it not for Bonelli's description of the large walrus-like tusks.[40] Joel Asaph Allen (1838 – 1921) felt that Bonelli had observed an elephant seal (Mirounga leonina).[41]

Hawaiian Islands (1855)[]

In July 1855, various American newspapers reported that a sea serpent had been seen by the crew of an unnamed schooner, "a few degrees to the eastward" of the Hawaiian Islands. The animal, which allegedly appeared above the surface several times over the course of around ten minutes, was described as being...[42]

... not less than eighty feet long, with a head like a common water snake, and provided with huge fins, with which it proceeded through the water with incredible speed.

The sea serpent subsequently passed under or close by the bow of the schooner, and disappeared from view about a mile off.[43]

Bolina (Douglass Reef, 1858)[]

Passengers of the British barque Bolina, which cruised the Pacific, claimed to have seen a large sea serpent near Douglass Reef (the coral reef Okinotorishima, halfway between Japan and the Philippines) on 3 May 1858. They told their story to the newspapers upon arrival in San Francisco, but did not describe the alleged sea serpent beyond estimating its length at 170', although it was observed from a great distance of half a mile.[44]

City of Sydney (Keppel Bay, 1862)[]

One of the earliest Australian sea serpent sightings was reportedly made in Queensland's Keppel Bay, between 1862 and 1863, but was not reported until 1889. In that year, in response to an article on sea serpents, newsagent Francis Jones wrote to the Sydney Evening News to tell them of a sea serpent he had observed when he was a passenger on the steamer City of Sydney.[45][8]

This morning we are informed by Mr. Francis Jones, newsagent, of North Shore, that in going from Sydney to Rockhampton during the Port Curtis rush in 1862 and 1863 he was a passenger by the steamer City of Sydney. When off Keppel Bay, owing to an accident, she was put at half speed, and while thus going slowly a monster of the deep as seen close to the ship. It was at least 40ft long, in shape like a snake, and very pretty, being striped like some species of the Australian snake. There were from 60 to 70 passengers on board, most, if not all, of whom, in addition to the crew, saw the Australian sea serpent. A good view was obtained owing to his snakeship for some time taking the same course as the steamer.

Malcolm Smith finds this sighting difficult to interpet, due to the explicitly snake-like appearance of the sea serpent, which, despite its name, is not ordinarily described as such. Smith also notes that few sea serpents have been described as striped. The various genuine sea snakes which are found in Australian and Indo-Pacific waters are usually striped, but none approach the size of the City of Sydney sea serpent, with the large banded sea krait (Laticauda colubrina) not exceeding 10'.[8]

Beaver (Sungyce, 1863)[]

In a short article on sea serpents published in Land and Water in 1878, zoologist Andrew Wilson (1852 – 1912) described the capture and killing of an eighty-foot long serpentine animal, sometimes termed the "Hamai beast,"[46] in China on 2 August 1863. The account had been given to him by Captain Boyle of the schooner Beaver, owned by Adam Scott. According to Boyle, who had recorded the incident in the Beaver's log, the animal had beached itself on the shore of an estuary at a place called Sungyce, near Hamai, on the western coast of China. However, "Hamai" is untracable, and China has no west coast. Heuvelmans believed that Hamai was probably Amoy (now Xiamen), an island near the mouth of the Jiulong River which was then open to British trade. If so, the "west coast" may have been the western shore of the island or of the Jiulong estuary, which flows into the Taiwan Strait.[1]

At half-past four o'clock this morning I went on shore with five young Chinese. The villages that are about three miles up the river were all in an uproar. I could not make out what was the matter with them—in fact, I thought it was another fight. A little while longer, I saw them dragging at something, but what it was I could not tell... When I got a little closer I saw that it was a great fish of some kind. He was not dead then... There were about 3000 men and boys on the spot, everyone with a lance, spear, knife or chopper. More than half of these men were cutting and haggling at this monster. By the time I had been looking on, and walking round it, they managed to cut about forty feet off its tail or the small end of the monster, which is just the same as a snake's. I requested them to cut off its head, and said I would give them 500 cash to have a good look at the inside of its mouth. This was gladly accepted, while some were standing close to me as if they were out of wind with the hard work they had with their choppers. I asked them how that fish came there. They told me that he came there at his own accord, and when on the sand made a fearful splashing and noise on the sand and water. At first everyone of them were scared, until some of the fishermen ventured close to it, and called out that it was a very large fish, and that it was theirs. This caused everyone to run with whatever they could get to cut for himself. The fish ran on the bank at three o'clock...
By this time the monster's head was cut off, but very much disfigured. I had then to draw it up the bank out of the water, and had the lower jaw cut off so as I could examine the inside of the mouth. I found the inside of the mouth to be just the same as a snake's, but it had three rows of soft teeth all as even as anything could be, and exactly the same size. They were movable, that is, I could move them towards the lip and back. At the entrance to the throat I found a strange sort of gridiron-shaped, tough substance, up and down. It was covered with a sort of reddish flesh which causes me to think that this monster of the deep lives on suckson. The snout was flat, the cheek or eyebrow stuck out about two and a-half feet—at least two and a-half times the length of my boot. The skin was one and a-half inches thick only, but awful tough and of a dirty blue colour. I should think there must have been many tones of barnacles on this monster. Where the barnacles were taken off there was a dirty white spot to be seen. As near as possible, it was twenty seven yards long. The head is exactly like a snake's but the eye was very like a hog's, till it was perfectly dead. My boots not being waterproof, and the sun being very hot, I was forced to leave, or I should have remained there until it was all cut up and weighed; but this I could not do. I have no idea of his weight. I left, and went ashore at a village close to the waterside, about two miles from the spot where the monster was being cut up. Here I found some tons of it upon the rocks being cut up into great junks. They were spoiling the bones by sawing them up as they were cutting the beef, as they call it.

The next time Boyle went ashore, on 15 August, he found that nothing of the animal remained. Wilson accepted the account as genuine, but felt that the only diagnostic characteristics mentioned by Boyle were the movable teeth, which suggested a fish identity to him. Wilson interpreted Boyle's comment regarding the animal living on "suckson" as meaning "suction," but Heuvelmans disputed this, feeling that "suckson" really meant "plankton". Whatever the case, the "gridiron" covered in plankton indicates that the animal was a filter-feeder.[1]

Heuvelmans' conclusion was that it was a very large serpentine filter-feeding shark, possibly similar to the Stronsa beast and Captain Hanna's fish, for which he suggested the informal name "snark". He believed that these sharks, something like giant elongated basking sharks (Cetorhinus maximus), could be related to the much smaller frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus).[1] Dale A. Drinnon regards the Beaver observation as the definitive sighting of this kind of sea serpent,[35] which is usually considered a subtype of super-eel.[1] One problem with this theory is that sharks have tailfins, whereas the Beaver animal had a snake-like tail. Heuvelmans suggested that the fin may already have been mutilated by the time Boyle was able to see the tail, but also argued that an identification of the animal as an enormous filter-feeding eel, a theory more in line with its general form, could not be ruled out. No known eels are filter-feeders, but Heuvelmans suggested that an eel the size of the largest whales and sharks could, like them, be forced to take up a plankton diet.[1]

However, other authors, including Richard Ellis and Ben S. Roesch, have identified it as a baleen whale or a basking shark.[47][46] Some of these identifications rest on the Beaver animal being a decayed globster,[46] although Boyle claimed it was still alive when he first saw it. The sighting is sometimes incorrectly reported as having occurred in 1963.

John Adams (Norfolk Island, 1870)[]

John Adams of Norfolk Island, north of New Zealand, a descendant of one of the mutineers on H.M.S. Bounty, claimed to have observed a sea serpent off Nepean Island in 1870, in an 1874 letter which was later published in the Proceedings of the Liverpool Literary and Philosophical Society (1877).[48][1]

... on the 15th October, 1870, wind S.E. and light, our boat being a mile off Nepean Island, and on the port tack, our lookout reported a calf (as the young whale is called) about a mile and a half distant on the lee bow. We accordingly kept off, and when about one hundred yards from the supposed calf, he said–'I cannot make out what it is; I have not seen a spout yet; but there is an animal of some sort, for his back is out of the water, and there is a wash there all the time.' 'Very well,' was the answer; 'keep a sharp look out.' On we went till within a few yards of the object, when the look-out exclaimed–'Look! it is a Sea Serpent!' And look we did. The boat shot within a yard of it, and there it was, a veritable Sea Serpent. Let Professor Owen, or any Professor of Natural History, say that such a thing as a Sea Serpent could not exist, but there, before our eyes, and within a foot or so of us, lay a thing, a living confutation of their theory. When first seen, I suppose it must have been asleep, for its head was lying flat on the surface of the sea, and its body coiled up. The tail of the monster I saw plainly, hanging some three or four fathoms below the surface. When we came near it, the beast, if I may call it so, raised its head out of the water, looked at us, then slowly straightening himself, he very leisurely moved off. I cannot tell you with any certainty the length of it, for it was not lying with its whole length on the surface, but, as nearly as I could judge, it must have been thirty or forty feet. It is of a reddish colour, and about a foot or eighteen inches in diameter. We have been about the Island in boats almost every day when the weather is fine for nearly eighteen years, and have never seen anything like it before or since then.

Adams also told his story to a friend, Captain Marcus Lowther (1820 – 1908), who in turn passed it on to Captain Drevar, witness to the Pauline sea serpent, adding that he believed Adams to be entirely sincere. While accepting his sincerity, Heuvelmans found Adams' story odd. Like the City of Sydney sea serpent, Adams' creature was very like a true snake, as it was observed coiled up, and had no visible limbs. This led Heuvelmans to question whether there could truly be a 30' species of sea snake.[1] The Champagne system recognises such an animal, the snake-like sea serpent, but this is based solely on Atlantic reports.[49] Heuvelmans eventually classified it as a super-eel, an admitted wastebin type.[1]

Guayaquil (Pearl Islands, 1873)[]

A sighting of a sea serpent made off Panama by the steamer Guayaquil was reported in the Panama Star and Herald in February 1873. The animal, seen near the Pearl Islands in the Bay of Panama, was described as an undulator showing around 25 ft (7 m) of its body above the water, with a head like that of a seahorse (Hippocampus sp.). It was reportedly seen alongside a large stingray.[50][51]

Colombo (Guayaquil, 1876)[]

Ecuador sea serpent

Armit's sketch of what he allegedly saw (Public Domain).

T. M. Armit, a "reputable citizen of Leith," wrote to the newspapers to claim, after reading a report of the Harbinger sea serpent in 1892, that he had observed a long-necked sea serpent while passing by Ecuador's Santa Elena Peninsula, on a voyage from Panama to Peru in July 1876.[52]

We were on board the disabled ship Colombo, of Greenock, and were being towed from Panama to Callao, in July, 1876. The sea was very smooth, and when nearly abreast of Guyaquil a solitary wave arose alongside six or eight feet above the main rail amidships. While wondering what could have caused such a phenomenon, we were greatly surprised to see a creature rise slowly out of the water until it stood from twenty-five to thirty feet above the sea at a distance of three ship lengths astern. The neck appeared to be three or four feet in diameter, and gradually swelled toward the water to double that size. We gazed at it for fully ten minutes, when it slowly retired below. We saw nothing in the shape of fins or feet about it...

Albatross (South Pacific, 1876)[]

This section is about a suspected hoax
A significant portion of researchers who have investigated this sighting have supported the notion that it may be a hoax, but this may not be proven or universally accepted.

Mirroring the Monongahela account, in January 1877, the captain of the brig Albatross wrote from Honolulu claiming to have killed a sea serpent which attacked him in the South Pacific (21°11'S 122°25' W). After its rapid approach towards the brig was observed for some time, the animal supposedly raised itself out of the water to attack the windlass, but did no damage, and was quickly shot down. The captain described it as 3 ft (0.9) thick at the neck and 4–5 ft (1.2–1.5 m) thick at the shoulders, with large scales, a large toothy mouth, "the top of the head rounded up high," and a neck puffed out like a cobra's.[51]

According to the captain, the French bark Esperance came across a dead sea serpent, supposed to be the same individual, in the same area of ocean on 12 November. It was supposedly described as 150 ft (45 m) in length and 6 ft (1.8 m) diameter at its widest, with large scales and a broad, shark-like tail. The Albatross and Esperance story was regarded as "fishy" at the time.[51]

Seudre (New Caledonia, ~1878)[]

A pseudonymous journalist, "The Vagabond," wrote to The Argus in September 1881 to report that Villeneuve, captain of the French man-of-war Seudre, had described to him a sea serpent seen off the large coral reefs of New Caledonia around three years previously.[53] This article was later reprinted by Charles Gould.[1] Heuvelmans classified it as a merhorse.[1]

... some three years ago, the monster was plainly seen off the great reef of New Caledonia by Commandant Villeneuve, and the officers of the French man-of-war, the Seudre. Chassepots were procured to shoot it, but before it came within easy range it disappeared ... It is something with a head slightly raised out of the water, and with a sort of mane streaming behind it, whilst the back of a long body is seen underneath the water.

Yungching (Cupchi Point, 1878)[]

According to an October 1878 item in The Straits Times of Singapore, quoting from The China Mail, the S.S. Yungching observed a sea serpent during a voyage from Shanghai to Singapore, off Cupchi Point, probably somewhere on the Chinese coast "at 116 degrees east ie about 220 km northeast of Hongkong". The report contained only a brief physical description of the animal.[8]

On the 17th instant, about 7 a.m., whilst the good S.S. Yungching was on her downward trip from Shanghai to this port, the monster was observed scarcely two ships' lengths' distance on the port side of the vessel, the steamer being then off Cupchi Point. It reared its head out of the crested billows, and shook itself as if proud of being observed and to assure all sceptics of its living, moving, wriggling existence. Its length roughly estimated was something over 60 feet, the circumference of its body was about as thick as a man's leg, and its skin was speckled. The first person on board the Yungching to observe his serpentine Majesty was a Celestial [Chinese], the supercargo, who at once called the attention of the Chief Engineer to its presence; most of the officers were either asleep or dressing, so that they had no opportunity of witnessing to the fact.

Radnorshire (Ryukyu Islands, 1879)[]

An unnamed passenger of the steamer Radnorshire reported a sea serpent sighting, made off "Rock Island", to the Japan Herald in Spring 1879. The report was subsequently republished in the Australian Express and Telegraph. Smith suggests that Rock Island was probably one of the Ryukyu Islands, and finds the reported colouration unusual, but notes that the description is otherwise similar to other longneck reports.[8]

While proceeding from Hongkong to your coast on board the steamer Radnorshire, when about eight miles W.S.W. of Rock Island, I saw what was undoubtedly a veritable sea serpent. We were proceeding at from ten to eleven knots an hour. Whilst standing on the quarter-deck I observed on the port beam, about a ship's length off, what appeared to be a long whitish-brown sack floating near the surface, parallel with the ship. It first of all struck me it was a dead man sown up in a hammock, and having my binocular at hand I was not long in examining it. Just as I had got my glasses to bear on the object, it raised its head clear out of the water about six feet, evidently examining the vessel, and I at once saw it was a sea serpent. I ran forward to get one of the officers to verify the fact, and when I returned it had disappeared. The head and neck were dark, and resembled a swan's neck gracefully arched, with an asp's head tapering to the mouth; the body was of a whitish color, and the diameter must have been at least 12 inches; the length I cannot vouch for, further than it seemed to be quite 20 feet. The animal was heading aft, and on enquiry I found that one of the seamen had seen it an hour previously on the starboard side, which implied that it had been cruising round us from curiosity, whilst it was evident that its propelling power much exceeded ours. I don't believe any of the officers saw the animal a second time but myself; however, an intelligent Japanese did do so, for he was loud in his description of the extraordinary fish after it had disappeared.

Cikobia (1879)[]

A laconic description of a sea serpent observed near the island of Cikobia, in Fiji, was published in the Fiji Times in 1879, and later reprinted in the Sydney Morning Herald. According to these reports, local Fijians had recently seen "a fish with long eel-like head, of great length, and with a thickness of body larger than the largest post ever put in a native house".[8]

Granada (Cape San Lucas, 1879)[]

In his book Eene Reis Rondom de Wereld in 480 Dagen (1882), the travel writer G. Verschuur recounted a possible sea serpent sighting he had made near Cape San Lucas, in Baja California, when a passenger on the Granada in 1879.[1][54]

Past Cape San Lucas, one afternoon, as I am gazing at the ocean surface, I see a long neck rising out of the water very close to the ship. I beckon some other passengers who are on deck, and after a few minutes the object in question appears a second time. It is the neck of a snake, one would say, and we estimate the length of the visible part of the animal at about a meter. The thickness is about that of the upper-arm of a full-grown man and the head ends in a point, and is as large as a child's head.

The other members of the crew were called, but the animal did not reappear, and the witnesses were soon in an argument with those who had not seen it.[17] Oudemans later contacted Verschuur requesting more details, but the witness was not able to elaborate much on what he had already written.[17]

I greatly regret to say that my answers will not help you much. The distance at which I saw this strange animal was too great, and the appearance too short, to observe anything of the particulars stated by you.
The part which we saw rise out of the sea had, if my memory does not deceive me, the thickness of a full-grown upper-arm, and the length of from 1 to 1 1/2 meter.
The head seemed to be round, and of the common shape of a snake's head, i. e. having nearly the tapering shape of the "cobra" or of the rattlesnake.
Of scales, eyes, fins, etc., I could observe nothing, during this short appearance. The colour seemed to me to be a greyish one.

Oudemans believed the animal, which he thought was too small to have been even a baby sea serpent, was some species of eel.[17] Heuvelmans also wrote that it could have been a large eel, although he would not rule out the possibility that it was indeed a baby longneck.[1]

James Harding (Suva, Before 1881)[]

The journalist "Vagabond" claimed in his 1881 Argus article that, while visiting Fiji, Major James Harding told him that he had once seen a sea serpent near a coral reef in the Bay of Suva. He apparently described it in virtually identical terms to Captain Villeneuve of the Seudre.[53] Heuvelmans classified the sea serpent as a merhorse.[1]

During my late visit to Fiji, Major James Harding, who was an officer in Cakoban's army when that chief, 'by the grace of God' was king of Fiji, described exactly the same creature [to the Seudre sea serpent] as passing within a few yards of his canoe on a clear moonlight night in the Bay of Suva. It swam towards a small island outside the reef, which is known amongst Fijians as the 'Cave of the Big Snake.' ... It is something with a head slightly raised out of the water, and with a sort of mane streaming behind it, whilst the back of a long body is seen underneath the water.

Emma (Cedros Island, 1889)[]

In late 1889, upon returning to the port of Ensenada in Baja California following a voyage to Central and South America, John Bailhache[10] of the schooner Emma told the Californian newspapers that he and the rest of the crew had observed a sea serpent in the open ocean northeast of Cedros Island, further down the Baja California Peninsula. According to Bailhache, the animal, which was allegedly seen feeding on a dead whale, had ten or twelve limbs and a ventral mouth.[55]

We had been a week out from Santo Domingo, and were out about twenty miles northeast from Cedros Island, when early one morning we saw a commotion in the sea about a mile off. It was a very quiet morning, and we crept up very close. We saw a strange sight. A whale about 30 feet long had been found or killed by the monster that was feeding upon it.
At intervals the serpent would roar up out of the sea so that we could coolly survey his entire form. His body was round and about three times as long as the whale, or 100 feet long. Its head was as near like a turtle as anything else, with the mouth set well back under the jaw. We did not see the eyes, so I can not say if they are the traditional flaming eyeballs or not. On each side of the body were five or six legs, each webbed and horned like the wings of a dragon.
While feeding on the whale it made a peculiar, horrible wheezing or hissing sound, but when it saw us it stopped and drew slowly away, looking back over its shoulder at us. It circled away about half a mile, and we could still see it kept an eye on us.
We made haste and sailed away from that locality, for if inclined it could have taken our little schooner at a mouthful. As we came north we saw the weird monster return to his prey, and before long the breeze brought the horrible wheezing sound to our ears.

Nautilus (Galapagos Islands, 1889)[]

This section is about a suspected hoax
A significant portion of researchers who have investigated this sighting have supported the notion that it may be a hoax, but this may not be proven or universally accepted.

In an account sent from Panama to San Francisco, Captain William F. Smith of the bark Nautilus claimed to have killed a very large sea serpent, eel-like and limbless but maned, off Cape Berkeley (the northernmost point of Isabela Island) in the Galapagos Islands, in 1889.[56] Smith suspects that the account may have been a hoax.[8]

Captain William F. Smith, of the bark Nautilus, reports that when off Cape Berkeley, Galapagos Islands, a sea serpent was seen about thirty yards from the vessel. Captain Smith estimated the serpent's length at 80ft, and he was about as large round as a barrel in the thickest part.
The head was shaped like a snake's, only on the extreme end of the upper jaw there was a ridge or bunch. The head was about 3ft in length, and about 2ft back of the head was a mane of hair. No fins were seen. The tail was long and tapering, and shaped like that of an eel. The captain and mate loaded two bomb-guns, and banged away at him, and for about fifteen minutes there was quite a circus, the serpent lashing the water with his tail, and running his head out 4ft or 5ft. At last he ran out his head, whisked around, and sank, dead.

Mustard (Borneo, 1890)[]

According to several newspaper reports from 1903, a Mr Mustard of Singapore claimed to have observed a 45 ft (13 m) long sea serpent off the coast of Borneo in 1890.[1] It was supposedly observed "gently tossing several fishing canoes up in the air and dexterously catching them on the spiked end of his tail".[57]

Selina Lovell (Great Sandy Island, 1890)[]

This section is about a suspected hoax
A significant portion of researchers who have investigated this sighting have supported the notion that it may be a hoax, but this may not be proven or universally accepted.
Main article: Moha-moha
Moha-Moha, Selina Lovell

One of Lovell's two drawings of the moha-moha (Public Domain).

In 1890, Anglo-Australian schoolmistress and naturalist Selina Lovell (1827 – 1905) claimed to have seen a "monster turtle fish," which she called the moka-moka, on the beach of Great Sandy Island, in Queensland's Great Barrier Reef. Her account was published in the magazine Land and Water at the begnning of January 1891, prompting a correspondence between the magazine's editor, who attempted to identify the animal as a known species of turtle, and Lovell, who repeatedly rejected this. Marine biologist William Saville-Kent (1845 – 1908) also quickly contacted Lovell, intending to describe the moka-moka in his book The Great Barrier Reef (1893), but he misread her handwriting, accidentally changing the animal's name to moha-moha – for which he suggested the taxonomic name of Chelosauria lovelli. In her second account, Lovell added that the moha-moha had been seen before by local people.[1][58] A somewhat similar sea serpent was later reported from Gloucester Passage (1934) in northern Queensland.[59]

Most early cryptozoologists were inclined to accept the story, with Rupert Gould suggesting that the creature could have been a surviving placoderm. However, Bernard Heuvelmans was highly sceptical of Lovell's account, citing several major internal inconsistencies, and labelling the entire story a hoax.[1] Smith agrees with this and adds several criticisms of his own,[58] but some other cryptozoologists, including Loren Coleman[47] and Bruce A. Champagne,[60] do not fully accept Heuvelmans' opinion, classifying the moha-moha as a cryptid chelonian or carapaced sea serpent. Dale A. Drinnon argues that Lovell had observed, but poorly described, an elephant seal.[35]

Southern Pacific[]

Arawata (Tasman Sea, 1877)[]

A Mr Howell, passenger on the Arawata, wrote to a friend claiming to have watched a sea serpent during passage from Melbourne to New Zealand, on 15 November 1877.[61] However, Smith suspects that the stated date of the sighting is incorrect, as 15 November was a Thursday, not a Wednesday; and the witness appeared to be under the misapprehension that the Arawata had set off on 7 November, rather than the 8 November. Smith suggests that the sea serpent itself was a longneck.[8]

We had a splendid passage across, but met with no adventure worth recording till Wednesday, the 15th instant when we saw something that very much resembled the celebrated 'sea serpent,' about which there has been so much of late. It was about seven o'clock in the evening when the chief steward drew the attention of myself and two others to the monster, on the windward side of the vessel. Both he and the cook, who also witnessed it, have been to sea the greater portion of their lives, and state they never saw anything like it before. It rose about 4 or 5 feet out of the water, and enabled us to see about 20 feet of its back which was quite black, and covered with long horns or prongs, 2 or 3 feet in length. It rose five or six times. The steward ran down and called the captain, but when the latter came up, the brute did not rise again. The steward, Mr Taylor, gave me permission to use his name, and he is well known in Melbourne and all round the coast.

Durham (Hauraki Gulf, 1878)[]

Captain Somerville of the steamer Durham told the Timaru Herald that he, his crew, and his ship's passengers had all seen a sea serpent during the Durham's voyage to the Coromandel Peninsula, when she was in the North Island's Hauraki Gulf, passing Browns Island. Somerville had been dining in his cabin when the mate called him out on deck, to see what he thought was a whale about a mile off.[62]

On going on deck I saw a large monster, which I thought was a common spouting black fish, but on looking closely I found this was not the case. It had a head resembling that of an immense eel, with a pair of flanges which looked very much like the ears. The neck and part of the body were out of water, and reached about thirty feet in the air. The colour of the whole body was jet black. The body appeared to be ten feet in diameter, and I believe the monster had lost itself and got into water too shallow to allow it to swim. It remained in this position for about a minute, the steamer being about a mile from the spot. Suddenly the neck and head came down on the water with a loud crash, and spray was thrown for a long distance round. I immediately ran back to my cabin for my glass. On examining the monster more closely, I was convinced that it was neither a black fish nor a thresher ... The vessel proceeded in the direction of the supposed serpent, but it dived and disappeared in the direction of the Sandspit.

The Timaru Herald's journalist also interviewed several of the Durham's passengers, including "well-known gentlemen of undoubted probity," who confirmed the sighting.[62] The account was later quoted in the Singapore Daily News, and thence, briefly, by Charles Gould, who wrote that the Durham had seen a 30 ft (9 m) sea serpent off "Nerowas Island."[20]

Bosphorus (Cape Howe, 1879)[]

Captain Young of the barque Bosphorus reported seeing a "strange fish" somewhat like an ox off Cape Howe, on the border between New South Wales and Australia, in July 1879. Although the neck of the animal was not described, Smith notes that the horn-like protuberances often appear in longneck sightings.[8]

Captain Young, of the barque 'Bosphorus,' which arrived in Wallaroo Bay, on Sunday, August 10, from Newcastle, New South Wales, report that when off Cape Howe, on 27th July, a very strange fish was seen by all on board; but whether it was the celebrated sea serpent or not, Captain Young does not consider himself justified in stating. He says it had a head strongly resembling that of an ox, the likeness to which animal was somewhat increased by its having two protuberances resembling horns on its forehead; its length was about 30 feet, and its diameter about 3 feet, the body being brown, and apparently without scales. It remained near the vessel for a considerable time, and was the object of much interest and speculation to the crew of the 'Bosphorus'.

Manapouri (New Zealand, 1891)[]

Gisborne surveyor Alfred Ford Mathews (1849 – 1926) claimed to have seen a sea serpent while returning to New Zealand's North Island from Auckland on the steamer Manapouri on 14 July 1891. He had not reported it immediately, but, when the officers of the Rotomahana later claimed that they had seen a similar sea serpent just a week afterwards, he concluded that it was probably the same animal, and decided to publish his own sighting. Heuvelmans classified it as either a longneck or a super-eel.[1]

The "monster" was also seen by the ship's officer in charge. It would from time to time lift its head and part of its body to a great height perpendicularly, and when in that position would turn its body round in a most peculiar manner, displaying a black back, white belly, and two armlet appendages of great length, which appeared to dangle about like a broken limb on a human being. It would then suddenly drop back into the water, scattering it in all directions. It had a flat head, and was about half a mile distant from the ship. The reason, Mr. Mathews added, that he had not mentioned the matter before was that people were likely to treat it with derision.

Rotomahana (New Zealand, 1891)[]

On 1 August 1891, the crew of the Union Steam Shipping Company steamer Rotomahana allegedly observed a sea serpent off Portland Light, on New Zealand's North Island. Chief Officer Alexander Lindsay Kerr and Quartermaster Peter Nelson both quickly gave interviews to the press describing what they allegedly saw.[1]

On Saturday morning last, August 1st., about 6.30 o'clock, we were off Portland Light, between Gisborne and Napier. I was on deck looking over the weather side, to see if I could see the land, when I saw the object, whatever it was, rise out of the water to the height of about 30ft. Its shape was for all the world like a huge conger eel, with the exception that it had two large fins that appeared to be about 10 feet long. The creature was not more than 100 yards away at the outside, and I should estimate its girth at between ten and twelve feet. I could not see its back as it was coming straight towards the steamer, but its belly and fins were pure white. The creature's head did not appear to be particularly definite, the neck running right up to the head the same as that of a large eel. It was broad daylight at the time, and the sun was shining clearly. When it went beneath the water it did not fall forward like a fish that is jumping, but drew itself back as if with a contortion. I only saw it the once which was the last time it rose. I looked out for it, thinking it might pass under the ship and reappear on the other side, but I did not see it again. Had the weather not been so rough the steamer might have gone alongside and ascertained its dimensions. One of the Quartermasters Peter Nelson, was watching the thing, and it so startled him that he took upon himself to rush on to the bridge and ask me if I had seen it, a thing a sea-man never does unless something very exceptional occurs. A landsman might do so, but a sea-man never, unless under exceptional circumstances, such as these ... As to its length I could give no opinion, but as the creature rose some 30ft. out of the water I should imagine there were still two-thirds of it in the water, but that is only my supposition.

Peter Nelson's account of the sighting corroborated Kerr's, but also offered some slightly different details.[1]

It was about 6.30 on Saturday morning last, August 1st. It was a bright clear morning with the sun shining brightly. The weather, however, was rough, with a heavy sea. I had just come from the wheel at six o'clock, and was standing on the lee-side looking out, and all at once I saw this thing appear rising out of the water about 30ft. It went down again. It did not go forward like a fish jumping, but seemed to draw itself right back under water as if it contracted itself. It came up and went down again in the same way about four times. The first time I saw it was about a mile off the ship to leeward; the last time I saw it was about 100 yards from the ship. The time occupied in traveling the distance seemed to be about two minutes. It looked like a huge conger-eel or snake, except that it had two large fins. The fins seemed to be about 10ft. long, and were situated about 20ft. from the head. The tips of the fins were about touching the water. Where the fins joined the body the latter seemed to bulge out. I did not see the fins the first time it rose, but I saw them each time afterwards. The belly and the fins were pure white. I saw the back part. It was the colour of an eel. The head and neck were like those of an eel. It was nothing like a whale. Had it been at all like a whale I should have taken no notice of it, as it is such a common thing to see whales at sea. It was not more than one hundred yards away the last time I saw it. The thing was glistening in the sun. I could not see its eyes. Had the sun not been shining, or had it been night, I might have been able to see its eyes. Every time it went down there was a distinct splash that could be heard quite plainly. The time being so early in the morning and the sea being so rough, there were no people about except the watch on deck, who were aft scraping the decks. The Chief Officer was on the bridge. I spoke to him about it. He said he had seen it ... I am not a very frightened sort exactly, but I suppose I should have been frightened if it had come much closer.

Heuvelmans first described the Rotomahana sighting as "unusual in describing a long-necked sea-serpent showing its fore-limbs," and stated that the animal could not have been an eel due to the position of the forelimbs. Despite this, he classified it as an "ambiguous periscope," which could be either a longneck or a super-eel.[1] More recently, the Rotomahana sighting has been regarded as the first in a long series of mosasaurian marine saurian sightings around New Zealand.[63]

Selected sightings map[]

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Notes and references[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 Heuvelmans, Bernard (1968) In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents, Hart-Davis, ISBN 9780246643124
  2. "Sea Serpent," Marysville Daily Appeal (10 June 1860)
  3. "A Sea Serpent," Daily National Democrat (10 June 1860)
  4. "A Pacific Sea Serpent," Mountain Democrat (5 September 1860)
  5. "The Sea Serpent," Daily National Democrat (8 June 1861)
  6. Ayres, William Orville "The Sea Serpent," Forest and Stream, Vol. 19, No. 21 (December 1882)
  7. "Sea Serpents," Morning Union (1 February 1873)
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 Smith, Malcolm (2020) Forgotten Sea Serpents, ISBN 979-8627524566
  9. "A Sea Monster: Remarkable Serpent Fish About Thirty Feet in Length Seen in San Diego Bay," The San Diego Union (22 October 1873)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 Smith, Jeff (28 July 2010) I Just Saw a Frightful Monster sandiegoreader.com [Accessed 10 September 2021]
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Lockwood, Herbert (2003) San Diego's Hysterical History: Fallout from the Skeleton's Closet
  12. 12.0 12.1 "That Serpent-Fish Monster," The San Diego Union (23 October 1873)
  13. The San Diego Union (24 October 1973)
  14. "The Sea Serpent," Los Angeles Herald (7 June 1876)
  15. "Another Sea Serpent," Los Angeles Herald (1 June 1876)
  16. "A Sea Serpent Off the San Diego Coast," San Luis Obispo Tribune (10 March 1877)
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 Oudemans, A. C. (1892) The Great Sea-Serpent: An Historical and Critical Treatise
  18. Drinnon, Dale A. (13 July 2011) Titanoconger, the REAL Super-Eel and the REAL Sea-Serpent frontiersofzoology.blogspot.com [Accessed 3 September 2021]
  19. Woodley, Michael (2008) In the Wake of Bernard Heuvelmans: An Introduction to the History and Future of Sea Serpent Classification, CFZ Press, ISBN 978-1905723201
  20. 20.0 20.1 Gould, Charles (1886) Mythical Monsters, W. H. Allen & Co.
  21. Bertin, Johanna (2003) Strange Events: Incredible Canadian Monsters, Curses, Ghosts and Other Tales, James Lorimer Limited, ISBN 9781551539522
  22. "Another Sea Serpent," San Diego Union and Daily Bee (2 February 1882)
  23. "The Sea Serpent Again," Los Angeles Herald (22 March 1882)
  24. "Sea Monsters," Thames Star (1 June 1922)
  25. "Is There a Sea Serpent?," Border Watch (12 November 1927)
  26. "Is the Sea Serpent a Myth?," Kalgoorlie Miner (14 August 1922)
  27. 27.0 27.1 "The Sea Serpent Appears," Morning Press (27 March 1885)
  28. "A Couple of Fish Stories: San Francisco Bay Furnishes a Sea Serpent and a Monster," The New York Times (28 March 1885)
  29. "Sea Serpent at San Diego," Los Angeles Herald (5 October 1886)
  30. 30.0 30.1 "The Sea Serpent," San Diego Daily Bee (21 July 1887)
  31. "The Sea Serpent Again," Brisbane Courier (18 January 1889)
  32. "The Sea Serpent in Howe Sound," Vancouver News Advertiser (20 July 1890)
  33. "A Pacific Sea Serpent," Petersburg Times (11 December 1891)
  34. 34.0 34.1 Shuker, Karl P. N. (2003) The Beasts That Hide From Man: Seeking the World's Last Undiscovered Animals, Paraview Press, ISBN 1-931044-64-3
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 Drinnon, Dale A. "Revised Checklist of Cryptozoological Creatures," CFZ Yearbook (2010)
  36. Bright, Charles (1991) Sea Serpents, Bowling Green State University Popular Press, ISBN 9780879725396
  37. Verrill, A. Hyatt "Do Sea Serpents Exist?," Science Digest, Vol. 29 (1951)
  38. Newman, Edward "Reported Capture of the Sea-Serpent," The Zoologist, Vol. 10 (1852)
  39. Bonelli, Hugh de (1854) Travels in Bolivia: With a Tour Across the Pampas to Buenos Ayres, Vol. I
  40. Gray, John Edward (1866) Catalogue of Seals and Whales in the British Museum
  41. Allen, Joel Asaph (1880) History of North American Pinnipeds: A Monograph of the Walruses, Sea-Lions, Sea-Bears and Seals of North America
  42. "The Sea-Serpent in the Pacific," The Daily True Delta (17 August 1855)
  43. "Sea Serpent," San Joaquin Republican (18 July 1855)
  44. "Sea Serpent in the Pacific Ocean," The Yarmouth Herald (10 June 1858)
  45. "An Australian Sea Serpent," Evening News (6 December 1889)
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 Newton, Michael (2009) Hidden Animals: A Field Guide to Batsquatch, Chupacabra, and Other Elusive Creatures, ABC-CLIO, ISBN 9780313359064
  47. 47.0 47.1 Coleman, Loren & Huyghe, Patrick (2003) The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep, TarcherPerigree, ISBN 978-1585422524
  48. Adams, John "Letter From John Adams...," Proceedings of the Liverpool Literary and Philosophical Society, Vol. 31 (1877)
  49. Champagne, Bruce A. "A Classification System for Large, Unidentified Marine Animals Based on the Examination of Reported Observations," Elementum Bestia: Being an Examination of Unknown Animals of the Air, Earth, Fire and Water (2007), Lulu Press, ASIN B001DSIB2W
  50. "Sea-Serpent in the Bay of Panama," Annual Record of Science and Industry (1874)
  51. 51.0 51.1 51.2 "The Sea Serpent Question Revived," The Western Review of Science and Industry, Vol. 1 (1878)
  52. "Sea Serpent is No Myth," New York Herald (21 July 1895)
  53. 53.0 53.1 Vagabond "A Cruise in a Collier," The Argus (3 September 1881)
  54. Verschuur, G. (1882) Eene Reis Rondom de Wereld in 480 Dagen
  55. "Mariners See a Huge Sea Serpent," Fort Morgan Times (15 November 1889)
  56. "Here He is Again!," Evening News (21 September 1889)
  57. "The Sea Serpent Again," Waikato Times (12 December 1903)
  58. 58.0 58.1 Smith, Malcolm (2021) Bunyips and Bigfoots: Up-Dated Second Edition, ASIN B08VYDC728
  59. Magin, Ulrich "Further Material on the Moha-Moha," Journal of Cryptozoology, Vol. 3 (2015)
  60. "Bruce A. Champagne," The Haunted Sea with Scott Mardis, Monster X Radio (2019) — Online
  61. "The Sea Serpent Again," Ballarat Courier (11 December 1877)
  62. 62.0 62.1 "The Sea Serpent," The Pontypool Free Press (1 June 1878)
  63. Shuker, Karl P. N. (2016) Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors: The Creatures That Time Forgot?, Coachwhip Publications, ISBN 978-1616463908