Rob Romero

Blue Ring
Oct 6, 2005
As early as 1883 Henry Lee published ‘Sea Monsters Unmasked’ an article positing a link between various sightings of Sea Serpents and the Giant Squid –since then, others (notably Richard Ellis in ‘Monsters of the Deep’) have furthered this notion.

Several particular sightings have been cited in support of this, Notably:

1734 Reverend Hans Edge’s description of an Atlantic Ocean encounter

1848 HMS Daedulus encounter

1848 HMS Plumper encounter

1905 British Naturalists Michael J. Nicoll and E. G. B. Meade-Waldo observed a "sea monster" while sailing off Brazil in the yacht Valhalla.

1947 Ocean Liner Santa Clara runs down and injures a ‘Sea Monster’ perhaps fatally.

However in view of the recent photos of live and recently dead giant squid in the ocean is it really reasonable to believe that Giant Squid could be mistaken for sea serpents. Particularly, why would a giant squid indefinitily SUSPEND a tentacle in mid air for the benefit of the 1905 Valhalla naturalists or 1947’s Santa Clara while dying. Why would an architeuthis swim with its tail above water as has been suggested for the 1734 sighting of Rev. Hans Edge, or the 1848 HMS Daedalus and Plumper sightings. In fact it was posited by Ellis that the GIANT SQUID SWAM ON IT'S SIDE SO THAT ITS CAUDAL FIN WOULD PRODUCE THE STIFF 6 FT. LONG AND 2 FT. TALL FIN THAT WAS OBSERVED WHILE ITS TENTACLE WAS SUSPENDED ABOVE THE WATER ('CATCHIN THE BREEZE') ! LOl!!!


Rob Romero
People see a lot of funny things in the ocean...I am sure that the squids have played their part in the whole "sea monster" thing, but some of the sightings have been in freshwater, which is not currently occupied by squid or octopus species.

Every year we find new animals around us...of course, I am a Cthulhuist.
Welcome Rob! :welcome:

Clem will be by here shortly I am sure. :smile: --- he's taken a look or two at this. That was one of my favorite chapters in Ellis' book. I think it's a very interesting and plausible scenario that dying squid would be flailing about... a lot can get lost in translation as well... I would agree that a suspended tentacle doesn't make a whole lot of sense when considering squid behavior.....
Ohhhh, it's a good thing it's the weekend...

Rob, your post and the Octobot's thread about the 1980 Plum Island, Massachusets Architeuthis suggest that now's a good time to revisit this issue and ask some questions. It's dinnertime now, but I promise to come back with some good stuff.

I've long been curious about the possibility that a number of "maned" serpent sightings could have been dying oarfish at the surface, but the squid theory is quite reasonable. As for lake monsters, I just really hope that if there's any truth to them at all that they turn out to be huge flatworms.
It's amazing what you can extrapolate from strange things on water it can be very deceptive. A case in point is the famous "Surgeons Photo" of the Loch Ness Monster. Generally when it is published it looks like a very large something out in the water BUT the picture is usually cropped and enlarged, When you see the whole picture, it's obviously much smaller (from the size of the wavelets) and in 1994 was revealed to be a hoax ( both the copped and uncropped pics are on this site

Eel larvae (known as leptocephali) grow to 10-15 cm in length, then metamorph into adults eels 100-150cm in length. There is however one leptocephalus for which the adult is unknown. "Leptocephalus giganteus" reaches 200cm as a larvae. Assuming a similar larval/adult size ratio as for other anguillids, the adult eel could attain reasonable size and account for "sea serpent" sightings. An eel this size would be extremely difficult to capture . . . . . . .
Rob Romero;89527 said:
Particularly, why would a giant squid indefinitily SUSPEND a tentacle in mid air for the benefit of the 1905 Valhalla naturalists or 1947’s Santa Clara while dying. Why would an architeuthis swim with its tail above water as has been suggested for the 1734 sighting of Rev. Hans Edge, or the 1848 HMS Daedalus and Plumper sightings.

Because giant squid enjoy a joke as much as anyone :smile:
Hi Rob,

I do accept that quite a few famous sea-serpent sightings were probably observations of large squid, probably in distress at the surface. It is time to retire the giant squid as the default suspect, as there are other big squid that could present the necessary appearance. Speculating about it is fun, and I do think it's best done with an awareness that other explanations can be just as interesting, even the non-teuthid sort. I used to see Architeuthis everywhere. I got help.

Here's an old story from the front lines of this debate. I've read about it before, in one of Richard Ellis's books probably, but this piece of Americana (1879) really warrants posting in full.

By Daniel C. Beard

The New York Sunday Sun of November 30 gives the following description of the Sandy Hook monster, as related by eye witnesses, who are all members of a Sandy Hook life-saving crew:

Samuel Kittell was the first to see it. He says: "I looked out and saw a large head and portions of the body of a most terrible looking monster. It was wriggling slowly along like a snake, the head and several portions of the body showing above the water. It was not a whale, as there was not more than twelve feet of water where it was, and a whale as large as that would necessarily have been in view all the time. But this thing would disappear altogether at intervals. No fin could be seen anywhere on the back. The body looked round and much larger than a pork barrel. It was of a blackish-brown color. I am sure it was not a whale, but cannot say what it was. It was a stranger to me."

George Lohsen makes the following statement: "I took the glasses and ran down to the water's edge and leveled the glasses at the monster's head. The front of the head was square, with a projection about two feet long extending from the top of the head. The eye was seven or eight inches in diameter, of a shiny black, and it appeared bulged out considerable. There looked to be a white rim around it. The animal's length was at least 300 feet from the head to the tail, as seen by us, not making allowances for the crooks in the body."

Harry Foster, another of the crew, says: "I got up and looked out, and saw the devilishest [sic] looking fish I ever put my eyes on. It was moving along about as fast as a man could walk. I took a pair of strong glasses and followed it along the beach. It was not more than 300 yards from the shore. With the glasses the head looked as large as a hogshead. The front of the head looked square, and was about three feet high, with a projection two feet long extending from the top of its head. The eye toward the shore was as large as the top of my hat, was shiny black and had a white edge. It had a very fierce look . . . From the head to the tail it was at the least calculation 300 feet long. It was moving along the water the same as an eel. The head and several parts of the body was constantly out of the water. It was some species of serpent. It was certainly not a whale. . . . This thing did not spout, and showed no fins on any part of its body excepting on the tail, which was formed like that of an eel."

Well authenticated facts now prove that nature produces monsters as wonderful and startling as the most vivid imaginations of the romancer can invent. Victor Hugo's devil fish has its counterpart in the great cephalopod which was for a long time on exhibition in the New York Aquarium.

There is no doubt, in my mind, that the monster lately seen off Sandy Hook by the crew of the life-saving station was no other than a large cephalopod. That these animals often attain enormous dimensions is a well established fact, but that this one was "three hundred feet long" is scarcely probable.

One seen in the neighborhood of Van Diemen's Land is described as resembling a cask, its long arms having the appearance of snakes wriggling upon the surface of the water. This creature, says Kent, was probably a large poulpe or octopus. In December, 1861, the crew of the French corvette Alecton , engaged in battle with a calamary, whose body alone was estimated to be twenty feet in length, and its weight 4,000 pounds! It escaped, leaving a portion of its flabby body in the possession of the brave sailors, who were only restrained from following it in small boats by the officer in command, Captain Boyer.

October 26th, 1863, two fishermen noticed off Great Bell Island, Conception Bay, what they supposed to be a large bale of goods from some wreck. It was not until they actually struck it with a boat hook that they saw the terrible staring eyes of an immense poulpe; two of its numerous arms were thrown across the boat; one of the men severed these with a hatchet, the creature then moved off backwards. The amputated arms left in the boat were brought to St. Johns. The Rev. Mr. Harvey, who was the first to examine and describe these limbs, found that one fragment measured nineteen feet, although a large portion of it had been destroyed before it was rescued from the fishermen, and there is no way to determining how much more remained attached to the body of the animal.

Many other well authenticated instances could be enumerated to prove the immense growth of this family of marine monsters, but those given are sufficient to establish the fact that these "monarchs of the ocean," as Kent calls them, do exist, and that their main characteristics are as follows:

1st: The body is large and round, and described as resembling sometimes a cask, and again a bale of goods.
2nd: The eyes are large and staring.
3rd: The arms or tentacles are of great length, and have a snake-like appearance and motion.

On comparing these peculiarities with the descriptions of the Sandy Hook leviathan, as obtained through the enterprise of the Sun from eye witnesses, the similarities, even to the expressions used, will be apparent.

The fin, or what was supposed to be the serpent's tail, can be readily accounted for by the fact that in some species of the cephalopod the longest tentacle widens and flattens at the end, and might easily be mistaken for a caudal fin. When moving through the water these animals bring their many arms together in a line, thus affording the least possible resistance, and propel themselves by ejecting water from their siphons.

Imagine one of these horrible creatures, with its sac-like body half submerged in the shallow water, its large protruding eyes above the waves, swimming with its long snakelike arms or tentacles trailing far behind, and you have a very fair picture of the wonderful gigantic hydrophidian or marine serpent of which we have had such thrilling accounts.

From Scientific American
December 27, 1879

Here's the source page,. The illustration is great. There's a few letters of an illegible signature visible at the extreme lower left. Maybe Dan Beard illustrated his own essay? According to biographical notes, he trained as an engineer in school before moving to New York and taking art classes. He was really quite an interesting fellow. After his art studies he went into publishing, launched a series of periodicals for boys and eventually created the Boy Scouts of America. Attached is a photo of Beard late in life, demonstrating his hatchet-throwing technique.

In 1879, he'd of been 29 years young and just beginning to get into publishing, so the SA piece would have been an happy occasion, and for 1879 Beard does display a well-informed sensibility. Sandy Hook, New Jersey is not too far south of the City (see a Google map here). Beard's presentation is pretty sound, but he seems not to know if it's octopus or squid he's taking about. The notion that a squid's tail and fins could resemble a head hasn't occurred to him. I don't know what those beach rescue fellows saw, but giant squid or octopus doesn't really sound right, especially not with a two-foot long projection sticking up out of the water. (A giant cephalopod's siphon would be below the water; in any case, above the water it probably couldn't be held sufficiently rigid to stick up as described.) My guess would be the villainous oarfish, or else those guys did what off-hours lifeguards have done since time immemorial: got loaded, and then mistook a buoy for a monster.

On the matter of how a squid's tail could look like a head, specifically the "horse" profile so often described in nineteenth-century serpent accounts, I did a photo-illustration to illustrate it, using a photo of Architeuthis(?) at the surface as a starting-point. It shall win no awards. But, if the tail were slightly elevated and if the fins were hanging down like laps, then I can see how that horsie thing might have got started, unless it was always just a euphemism for "huge penis-looking thing."

The Sandy Hook story led me to something else, which I'll post next time. It might suggest a non-animal culprit for a famous Bishop Pontoppidan account, claimed by some as an Architeuthis sighting.



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Hello Clem

I dunno. First of all the sightings I’m referring to predominantly, refer to heads and necks being suspended in mid-air –I’m not buyin that for large squid. Secondly, why would a squid put its tail out of the water long enough to create the impression that it’s a head (i.e., the 1848 Daedalus and Plumper sightings). Thirdly, in the 1905 Valhalla incident, we had trained naturalists with binocualars making the observation –Ellis is really stretching that one with the squid sailing along sideways so that its fin is creating a stiff 6’ by 2’ impression –not to mention the suspended head and neck! Also, we’ve now got a number of photos of live or recently dead squid at the surface and they all have a distinctive bright red hue about them –definitely not brown or dark. I’m not buyin the drunken argument either –hey I’ve had a few benders, but never seen anything weird –um let me rephrase that- unexplainable. Hoaxes would be much more plausible explanation to me than intoxication -and even then I still feel that some of these encounters are difficult to explain away.

Sorry no Sale.

Not buyin the Oarfish argument either for suspended head and necks. Oarfish -large and weird, but definitely not a dark brown monster.