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No. 55: Jan-Feb 1988

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The Ubiquity Of Sea Serpents

Public interest is usually focussed (by the media) upon the supposed monsters in Loch Ness, Lake Champlain, the Chesapeake Bay, etc. Actually, an immense body of sea serpent reports also exists. B. Heuvelmans collected many of these in his 1965 classic In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents.

P.H. LeBlond, a professor at the University of British Columbia, is extending Heuvelman's work, concentrating on the thousand miles of Pacific Coast between Alaska and Oregon. Since 1812, there have been 53 sightings of sea serpents or other unidentified animals along this narrow strip of ocean. Some of these are very impressive. Take this one for example:

"In January 1984 a mechanical engineer named J.N. Thompson from Bellingham, Washington, was fishing for Chinook salmon from his kayak on the Spanish Banks about three-quarters of a mile off Vancouver, British Columbia, when an animal surface between 100 and 200 feet away. It appeared to be about 18-20 feet long and about two feet wide, with a 'whitish-tan throat and lower front' body. It had stubby horns like those of a giraffe, large ('twelve to fifteen inches long') floppy ears, and a 'somewhat pointed black snout.' The creature appeared to Thompson to be 'uniquely streamlined for aquatic life,' and to swim 'very efficiently and primarily by up and down rather than sideways wriggling motion...'"

LeBlond and biologist J. Sibert have analyzed all of the 53 sightings in a 68page report entitled "Observations of Large Unidentified Marine Mammals in British Columbia and Adjacent Waters," published by the University of British Columbia's Institute of Oceanography. Of the 53 sightings, 23 "could not definately or even speculatively be accounted for by animals known to science." The authors of the report emphasize that the reports are of high quality, made by people knowledgeable about the sea and its denizens.

(Gordon, David G.; "What Is That?" Oceans, 20:44, August 1987.)

Heuvelman's rendition of the 'long-necked sea-serpent' Heuvelman's rendition of the "long-necked sea-serpent" also shows giraffe-like horns.

From Science Frontiers #55, JAN-FEB 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987