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Friday, January 22, 2010

Bay Area Beasts: Pterodactyls, Mystery Cats, and Sea Serpents

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 12:37 PM

click to enlarge Sushi grade? - FROM CHARLES GOULD'S MYTHICAL MONSTERS, VIA ARCHIVE.ORG
  • From Charles Gould's Mythical Monsters, via archive.org
  • Sushi grade?
This month saw two stories of mysterious monsters crop up in rapid succession. In Britain, the inhabitants of Buckshaw Village fear a creature that looks like a cross between a boar, a dog and large cat that upends trash bins and devours deer. And in the county of Wise, Texas citizens thought they had caught the elusive Chubacabra. But it turned out to be a bald raccoon. Disappointments aside, monster sightings are a welcome departure from the commonplace and it left us wondering what hellions lurk the hills of the Bay Area. Turns out, a lot.

California's geography lends itself easily to sea serpent sightings, and there have been several. On June 4, 1876, The Chronicle reported that a "responsible gentleman" not only spotted one off the deck of a boat near Monterey, but watched it fight a whale (Which -- awesome!):

click to enlarge Sushi grade?
  • Sushi grade?
"Worsted." Take that, whale.






Nine years later, serpents appear again in Northern California waters. The Chronicle reported on March 28, 1885 that "...the existence of the great sea serpent is no longer in doubt."

click to enlarge Sushi grade?
  • Sushi grade?

You may be tempted to attribute the San Francisco serpents of Yore to home-brewed hooch and a poor comprehension of the natural world, but sightings still crop up today. In 2004, two brothers, Bob and Bill Clark, claim to have captured a San Francisco Bay sea serpent on film and you can read a lengthy analysis of the film here (PDF).

On March 11, 1892 The Chronicle reported that a beast so ugly is could "scare a delirium tremens patient into an insane asylum"  named "The Manfish," had been captured in Oakland waters. A Berkeley scientist proclaimed it to be a previously known species, but the paper sniffed that, whatever ever the case, the thing was still "queer."

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Andy Wright

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