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Weird News

No Sea Serpents Here, Says UK's Royal Navy

May 27, 2010 – 10:51 AM
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Lee Speigel

Lee Speigel Contributor

(May 27) -- When I was a kid, one of my favorite TV shows was a puppet series called "Time for Beany," about the adventures of a young boy, Beany, and his friend, Cecil, the Seasick Sea Serpent. I wondered why we never saw Cecil's tail -- it was always hidden, just like the alleged archives of sea monster sightings in the U.K.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the royal navy doesn't collect or archive any sea serpent sightings reported to the navy by the public.

While British ship logs may contain sightings of strange marine animals, the navy says this type of information isn't located in any sea serpent-specific storehouse.

Sea serpent sighting by U.K. royal navy warship in 1848.
Courtesy of the International Cryptozoology Museum
HMS Daedalus was a 19th-century warship of the royal navy. In August 1848, Capt. McQuhae of the Daedalus and several of his officers and crew saw a sea serpent, which was subsequently reported in the Times of London.
This came to light recently after a marine biologist, via a Freedom of Information inquiry, asked for data about "abnormally large or dangerous sea monsters" under the sea.

An official reply stated that "The royal navy and ministry of defence, in general, does not maintain any form of central repository of information purely devoted to sea monsters.

"Personnel might be inclined to record unusual sightings in ships' logs, but there is, as far as we know, no actual requirement for them to do so."

So does that mean case closed and it's all just a big fish tale?

According to the National Archives in west London, there have been many accounts over the centuries of ship crews witnessing huge, unknown animals in the ocean. Descriptions range from "a monster of extraordinary length" to "a great thundering sea snake."

At the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine, Loren Coleman cites a case from his "Field Guide to Lake Monsters and Sea Serpents," that took place in May 1917 during World War I, off the coast of Iceland. Capt. F.W. Dean of the British cruiser Hilary witnessed a strange creature in the water.

Dean thought, at first, he was looking at the periscope of a submarine, Coleman says, until he realized "it had what appeared to be a cow's head and dorsal fins. It was described as a long-necked creature with a 20-foot-long neck.

"I think it's obvious that these kinds of records occur during wartime and peacetime -- what happens to them is a question."

Based on his own experiences trying to obtain government documents using Freedom of Information laws, Coleman feels that many such requests result in no available information because the initial queries aren't specific enough.

The British denial of any sea serpent files, Coleman says, is "sort of a Catch-22" -- there might, in fact, be reports of unusual animals, but since they're not labeled as sea serpents or monsters, they're never put into a sea monster file.

"It tends to be a standard operating procedure that, if they're not specifically told it's a sea monster, they may or may not keep that record."
Sea serpent illustration from 1848.
Courtesy of the International Cryptozoology Museum
This illustration shows another angle of the famous 1848 royal navy sighting of an unknown sea creature by the crew of the HMS Daedalus.
For 50 years, Coleman, considered the world's leading cryptozoologist, has researched and compiled volumes of information about sea serpents. Along the way, he's had many communications with Navy personnel, always asking them if there are any secret files on the subject.

"You kind of get a wink and a nod, like, 'certainly, the royal navy knows about these things, but we're not going to talk to anybody about them.'"

So, why this cavalier attitude about sea monsters? If there are such creatures -- as centuries-old eyewitness testimony implies -- living among us in the deep seas of the world, why would countries want to keep it a secret?

"I feel the royal navy is trying to put out a message," said Coleman. "Supporting the status quo: 'We're not going to give out information on sea serpents, even though they may exist.'"

"It seems clear to me and to most researchers that the royal navy knows there are strange marine creatures that have been seen from some of their ships," he said. "But they're certainly not going to bend over backwards to help cryptozoological research or, even, new animal researchers find these cases."

Some official global cooperation or acknowledgment of possible sea serpents would obviously open the door to the discovery of something that could be a boon to science. But, for now, nobody appears to want to share information.

I wonder if my old Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent hand puppet is still buried in my parents' attic.
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