Sunday, 7 February 2010

A Florida River Monster

Florida is often said to be a place of high strangeness with sightings of the Skunk Ape etc. There is also a story about a River monster.

Between 1955 and 1961, there were reports in Florida newspapers, of a creature in the St. Johns River. The reports came from a variety of people from fishermen who made their living there and from visitors and new residents. They all reported seeing a large creature but some said it was like a dinosaur, some like a giant manatee. Most sightings occurred between Astor Park and Lake Monroe, the majority at Blue Spring. (this is important to note you will see why at the end of the posting)

One Lake County man claimed to have seen the monster on land grazing on plants. He reported that the monster left a beaten down path through the bushes. The animal's skin was described as elephant-like and grey coloured. Two bass fisherman claimed that the monster had almost tipped over their boat.

In 1975, Five people in a fishing boat were frightened on the morning of May 10 on St. Johns River near Jacksonville. They claimed to have seen a dragon-like creature, that reared its head from the river, then disappeared into the deep water. It was described as having a head like a giant snail, with two horns. This is the testimony of two of them:

We saw it had a neck about 3 feet long,”Mrs. Dorothy Abram reported . “It had two little horns on top of the head like a snail.” She described the head as about the size of a human head. Mrs. Brenda Langley had a better view of the creature than Mrs. Abram had. “It was about three or four feet out of the water and about the color - a pinkish color - like boiled shrimp,” she said . “It had a real ugly looking face on it. It had snail like horns, and it had this little jagged thing going down its back. ...The head turned on it. It just turned and looked around at us.”

It is not the first story about strange marine creatures in that area. In 1885, A ship's anchor brought up the carcass of a creature with a long neck which resembled an extinct plesiosaur, from the New River Inlet. It may have been the corpse of a basking shark or it may have been an unknown creature. There was no DNA testing in those days. There is apparently an 1891 newspaper report of a sea-serpent chasing bathers from the ocean on Jacksonville beach.( I couldn’t trace it unfortunately) The creature was reported to have had a dog-like head and a long thin neck. There is also another story, but it may be an urban myth, said to be reported by some scuba divers in 1962, off the Gulf coast near Pensacola. A monster apparently attacked the divers and over turned their boat, and supposedly killed all but one of the men. The surviving victim claimed that the creature had a long, ten foot neck (3.3 metres) , like a telephone pole. The head had small eyes, but a very wide mouth and whipped about like a large snake.

Before we get overexcited I should point out that the largest spring on the St. Johns River, Blue Spring is a Manatee Refuge and the winter home to a population of West Indian Manatees. So some sightings could be manatees as often people don’t realise how big they can be or what they really look like. What is interesting is that the 1975 description said it had horns. There have been lots of other sightings, including in Loch Ness, where people mention horns or eyes on stalks. The colour is also intriguing, bright red/pink, and I am sure someone can come up with a list of marine creatures that colour that could be responsible for a mis-identification. Some thing to spend your Sunday afternoon researching if you are bored!


Alice Bluegown said...

An engraving purporting to show the 1891 event is featured in Heuvelmans's Le Grand Serpent-de-Mer aka In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents, but sadly there are no other details. The sighting is listed in the appendix as 'uncertain'.

Greg May said...

'Pinky' is the name given to a 'monster' that was once sighted on the St. John's River. Just like 'Whitey' of Arkansas's White RIver, 'Pinky' was most likely a manatee. In fact, there are videos on YouTube a 'Monsters' sighted in the St. Johns River that are actually manatees.

SON 'JE MODELZ said...

I am a witness that dragon like serpent was in the StJohns river...I use to work at the Independent Life building in 1985-1986 was on the 19th floor...I remember standing at the window looking out at the main street bridge and river...all of a sudden I saw this huge black/grayish like split tails flap who from the water then a snake dragon like animal body merge up to surface then submerge back under the water...that shit freaked me out I ran back from the window and told my co workers what I had seen and they thought I was crazy....but I know what I saw