Arr, there be sea serpents yonder!
June 25, 2003 4:54 AM   Subscribe

Wallace Cartwright, a lobster fisherman from Cape Breton Island, describes his recent encounter with a sea serpent: "It had a head on it like a sea turtle, and it had a body like a snake...about as big around as a five-gallon bucket." Perhaps Nessie has relatives abroad? The more likely explanation, however, is that Wallace had a rare glimpse of one of these strange creatures of the deep.
posted by debralee (15 comments total)
All of the sightings of oarfish seem to be collected around warm water regions, i.e., Mexico, Florida, and the museum is in Australia.

The water off of Cape Breton is one step away from being frozen solid (at least when I've been in it).

Those things look very badass, however.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:49 AM on June 25, 2003

The head does look rather like the beaked head of a turtle, too, doesn't it?
posted by Slithy_Tove at 6:19 AM on June 25, 2003

I found one of these (wolf eel) on a beach once, and it was a similar WTF moment. . .I was certain that a sea serpent had washed up after a storm.
posted by Danf at 7:56 AM on June 25, 2003

The "sea serpent" link was really interesting, debralee. Amazing that we don't even know what might be in our oceans.

Can't they show this fisherman pictures of oarfish or whatever species he might have seen to find out if that's what he saw?
posted by orange swan at 9:19 AM on June 25, 2003

Giant oarfish caught off the coast of california! (1996) A friend claims that the oarfish was the inspiration for the naga that adorn Thai wats (according to legend, Gautama Buddha subdued a naga, after which the naga sheltered Buddha while he meditated).
posted by eddydamascene at 9:59 AM on June 25, 2003

The ones that still give me nightmares are the Giant Squid that were hauled up off Tasmania in 1997... 50 freakin' feet from head to... erm... tentacle, plus all the nasty, nasty connotations of squid a hundredth their size, just magnified to science fiction levels... Oarfish are no beauty pageant contenders, to be sure, but squid?! Now, that's nasty...
posted by JollyWanker at 10:04 AM on June 25, 2003

Great post. Those oarfish are fascinating.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:10 AM on June 25, 2003

Why don't we just rename the "Oarfish" to "Sea Serpent" and be done with it?
posted by wendell at 10:41 AM on June 25, 2003

Oarfish are really creepy looking! I would have gaffed it and hauled it back. Think of all the fun you could have with a 50-foot disgusting fish!
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:43 AM on June 25, 2003

The cool thing about stuff like this is that it can help you recapture a sense of wonder... OK, our world isn't fully catalogued and pressed into paper (or binary). The underlying instinct for that is probably what generates some of the strange tales in the first place, but it's nice to be reminded reality has some good surprises from time to time.
posted by weston at 12:04 PM on June 25, 2003

That video is amazing! My human brain naturally assumes that the oar fish would swim sideways, like an eel...but they swim vertically, with their head up. Cool!
posted by arielmeadow at 12:57 PM on June 25, 2003

Oh good. I hadn't been having enough nightmares lately.

I'm sorta reminded of the Sesame street Martians.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:16 PM on June 25, 2003

Cool post!
posted by me3dia at 2:21 PM on June 25, 2003

It does sound like the serpent was an oarfish. Better an oarfish than an Atlantic Hagfish, which has an unusual method of eating.
posted by bragadocchio at 3:45 PM on June 25, 2003

arielmeadow - I think the reason the fish is vertical in the video is that it's been hooked (you can just barely make out the line). I assume the fish was dead or stunned by that time and was being held up by the line from the boat.
posted by tdismukes at 5:18 AM on June 26, 2003

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