The following is a list of alleged sea serpent sightings reported from the Southern Ocean, the waters surrounding Antarctica, and its marginal seas. Such sightings are rare, and A. C. Oudemans was not aware of any claimed sightings from so far south. However, sea serpents were allegedly observed by Russian and Japanese whalers during the later 20th Century. Other marine cryptids, such as the southern narwhal, southern walrus, and long-finned whale, have also been reported from these waters.
During the 19th Century, sailors sometimes referred to the crabeater seal (Lobodon carcinophaga) as a "sea serpent" because of its slender build and a motion which "seemed perfectly undulating". There is also a Sea Serpent Cove in the South Sandwich Islands, named in 1930.
The Japanese ship Soya reportedly sighted a sea serpent on 13 February 1958, in an ice floe off Antarctica. In Japan, this cryptid has been nicknamed Nankyoku Gojira (南極ゴジラ; Japanese: "Antarctic Godzilla").
The captain of the Soya, Matsumoto Mitsuru, reported the sighting in his book Nankyoku Yusō-ki (1959). According to his account, at around 07:00 P.M. on 13 February 1958, when the Soya was being towed through an ice floe by the icebreaker USCGC Burton Island, and he was on the bridge with other officers, he drew the attention of the others to a black shape, too large to be a seal, which had emerged from the water. One of the officers opined that it was a drum jettisoned by the Burton Island, but after a few moments, the shape turned towards the Soya. The chief engineer hurried to his cabin to retrieve his camera, but by the time he returned to the deck, the animal was no longer visible.
All of the officers on deck claimed to have seen the animal, with one man observing it through a pair of binoculars. According to Matsumoto Mitsuru, it had a cow-like head, seventy to eighty centimetres in length, with a somewhat monkey-like face, large eyes, and pointed ears. It was covered in fur, with a definite dark brown coat of relatively long (ten centimetres or so) hair. An engineer onboard the Soya added that the animal had a row of vertical, saw-shaped fins running down its back. The ship's biologist, Dr. Yoshii, was unable to identify it.
Sovetskaya Rossiya (1967)
In December 1967, Mikhail Izbenko of the Soviet newspaper Vechernyaya Moskva reported that a pair of snake-like sea serpents had been observed by helicopter pilots Ivan Dzhus and Fyodor Dolzhenko, from the whaling factory ship Sovetskaya Rossiya, where Izbenko was stationed as a TASS correspondent, and which was then in the Antarctic south of the Indian Ocean. The sea serpents seen by the pilots were described as 48' or 49' in length and 3' in width, with light brown skin; they moved with "convulsive," serpentine motions, after initially resting "almost calmly" at the surface. Vessels in the area were warned to watch for the animals, as it was feared they could be dangerous to shipping.
According to Dale A. Drinnon, later accounts indicated that dozens of reports of such animals had been made, including observations of the sea serpents hunting pods of small whales. Drinnon believes these serpents to be mosasaurian marine saurians, most commonly reported from waters off New Zealand.
Tsugii Hatami (Before 1977)
James B. Sweeney's Sea Monsters: A Collection of Eyewitness Accounts (1977) includes an account of an Antarctic sea serpent sighting from a Japanese whaler named Tsugii Hatami. This man was the captain of a "whale killer," a small whaling ship armed with explosive, barbed harpoons. He claimed that his ship had once been attacked by a sea serpent, which he identified as a ryu or dragon, with fatal consequences.
Notes and references
- Oudemans, A. C. (1892) The Great Sea-Serpent: An Historical and Critical Treatise
- Drinnon, Dale A. (1 May 2013) More on Mosasaur Sightings frontiersofzoology.blogspot.com [Accessed 16 August 2021]
- Eights, James "Remarks on the New South Shetland Islands," Transactions of the Albany Institute, Vol. 2 (1833)
- Matsumoto Mitsuru (1959) Nankyoku Yusō-ki [南極輸送記]
- Bright, Charles (1991) Sea Serpents
- Anon. (31 May 2011) Peeking at Ivan's SITU Files: Meaningless Reports of Sea Monsters: Part Two thebiggeststudy.blogspot.com [Accessed 16 August 2021]
- Sjadro, V. V.; Iovleva, T.; & Ochkurova, O. (2014) 100 Znamenitykh Zagadok Prirody
- Nepomniachtchi, Nikolai Nikolaevich (2001) Gigantskiy Morskoy Zmey
- Sweeney, James B. (1977) Sea Monsters: A Collection of Eyewitness Accounts, D. McKay Company