Edward Waite Encounters Sea Serpent

Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 16th, 2007

Saw a Sea Serpent

The officers and crew of the schooner Edward Waite, of Portland, Me., which arrived at this port recently, are positive that they fell in with a genuine sea serpent on the voyage from Cardenas [Cuba] to this city with a cargo of sugar. The vessel was yesterday docked at South street wharf, and the bronzed-faced mate, William Page, who has been a sailor for thirty years, told the story of the remarkable adventure in a straightforward manner:

“Our voyage,” said he, “from Cardenas to Cape Hatteras was uneventful. We passed that point and were more than half way to Cape Henry when we sighted a strange disturbance in the ocean. It was my watch and there were several men on deck at the time. We thought at first that it was a whale, but as it did not ‘blow’ we concluded it was a shark, although some of the men who were watching it said it was too large for a shark. The thing, whatever it was, came nearer and nearer, as if charging for the vessel, and we began to get a little excited. We noticed, also, as it came within a reasonable distance, that the thing’s head was out of water.

It came nearer and nearer, leaving a long, wide wake behind it, and stirring up the water into foam like the paddles of a river steamer. It passed the schooner within less than 250 yards and we had a full view. We were so much interested that I forgot to call the captain, who was below asleep, but all of the watch saw the thing as plainly as I can see the schooner there in the next dock. It was a sea serpent and no mistake. We could only measure its size by the line in the water, but I should say it was fully ninety feet long, with a head as large and something like a horse’s head. The most remarkable thing about it was the color and size of its eyes. They were of a bright saffron hue and half as large as a man’s hand. It held its head above water all the time we saw it, which was about half an hour, when it passed out of sight in a southerly direction. We were at the time in latitude 35, 40, and it was a clear day. We could not have been mistaken.” — Philadelphia Record.Plattsburgh [New York] Sentinel, May 30, 1884

Thanks to

Jerome Clark.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

13 Responses to “Edward Waite Encounters Sea Serpent”

  1. RockerEm responds:

    No doubt in my mind that these creatures exist. I think we just need to keep our minds open to all possibilities of what these creatures are. They may infact be dinosaurs or they may infact be large eels. No one really knows. But I know what I saw off the coast here in California and it sure was no eel.

  2. dogu4 responds:

    When it comes to the creatures that could live in the ocean, I’m really open to the possibilities. I’m open to the idea that there are lots of things that people see while out on the open ocean and along coastal areas, or anywhere around big bodies of water, that by their very location make ’em subject to misinterpretation, and I believe that works both ways. For example an undescribed and previously unknown sea creature might be mistaken for a group of sea lions since all we typically see is the exposed top of the head, we are very likely to misidentify almost any big sighting.

    The subject of cryptic sea creatures always brings to my mind an historical fact that is little discussed but would have profound impact on marine species; during the last few decades, submarines have used radar to identify enemy submarines and mines. The seriousness of the proposition was such that anything un-identifiable was to be considered a threat and was torpedoed. It’s suspected that any number of whales and other sea creatures which alone or together might have been the source of the sonar echo and been the subject of the preemptive attacks as once the threat disappeared, there would be very little followup to discover the source once it was determined to have no military connection.

  3. graybear responds:

    I hadn’t thought of the possibility of “reverse mis- identification,” I suppose you would call it, until your post. The idea raises some fascinating possibilities. Very good point.

  4. Remus responds:


    I don’t know where you get your “historical facts”.

    As a former submariner (sonarman) I can assure you weapons worth tens of thousands of dollars are not fired at “unidentifiable” targets.

    By the way, we use SONAR underwater. RADAR is mostly above-ground.

    What we term “biologicals” are readily differentiated from man-made and background sources.

  5. dogu4 responds:

    Remus; I read this in a book regarding extinctions in marine habitats. The author had been stationed aboard an operational vessel in the far north though not directly involved in submarine operations, so yeah, it could be apocryphal, or speculative.

    My bad. Your right about using expensive weapons these days, and I shouldn’t have said “recent decades” since the book I think was printed in the 60s. Sorry ’bout that. I guess I’m revealing an age bias.

    But since you know something first hand, do you think the idea of naval weapons operations eliminating unverifiable blips on sonar (ooops, I slipped on using radar, and I meant to change that) could be a threat, or just a distraction, is totally out of reason even with WW2 vintage ordinance? I don’t so much mean as SOP but y’know like sometimes…I have heard stories of animals targeted in other military operations, training and stuff, not outta malice so much as not aware of what they were doing, but from back in the old days. There was an entirely different mindset about wilderness and giant heards of wild animals back then, so the idea of submariners targeting a whale or whatever doesn’t so far fetched to me, in that context…

    Have you ever heard of anything like that?

  6. Remus responds:


    I suppose that it’s possible back in the day but you would in that case have to confirm what the target was before firing. (Don’t want to risk an international incident!)

  7. dogu4 responds:

    Remus: And of course I definitely see your points on this. The source I mentioned was, if I recall correctly, a book by Farley Mowat, the author of Never Cry Wolf which was later a movie of the same name. The particular book I’m thinking of was either “Sea of Slaughter” or “A Whale for the Killing”. They were widely read in the conservation circles and he’s been widely criticised for a few things, but he did tap into documents and information that indicates that the “full-on” wilderness of yore, days before modern field biology and zoology, the scene was not quite what we see around us today whether on land or at sea, or in the air.
    Interestingly, one of the ways he estimated the population of the animals was by analysing the records of animal products (hides, pelts, eggs, barrels of oil) bought and sold in the burgeoning markets of Europe of the 17th, 18th, and 19th century. No one was taking care to record what was happening since most folks were illiterate and this was before what we consider modern field biology, but the merchants were VERY particular and detailed in what they transported and sold. Most enlightening.

  8. Remus responds:


    The terrible slaughter of so many species in the past is deplorable and undeniable. The same arrogant attitude was shown toward indigent folks. This was not really that long ago!

    There is hope though. The beaver was once hunted to near extinction in my own part of the world. Now it has recovered to the point of being TOO populous. Same with the white-tail deer. And the mountain lion seems to be coming back along with the wolf.

    Attacking unknown animals is not far-fetched. I personally think that if Bigfoot is ever proved as a physical ape, it will be by a hunter and not an “investigator”.

  9. Mnynames responds:

    There are 2 naval encounters that I’m aware of, both I believe dating back to the first world war. The first was accidental, while the second was intentional. I’m afraid, having just moved, that all my books are still packed, so excuse me if my facts are a bit off, but this is what I remember-

    First incident- A German U-Boat captain observed a huge, serpentine animal blasted out of the water when he torpedoed an enemy vessel. The animal then writhed about for some time in the bloody water before disappearing. I want to say this was in 1918, towards the close of the war. I recall reading about it when I was a child (Have read other retellings subsequently), which is why I placed it first.

    Second incident- An allied destroyer captain, probably British, patrolling in arctic waters encounters a very large, classic maned water horse, swimming lazily about. Amazingly, he decides to give the boys some target practice, so they open up the main guns on the beast, the second or third shots htting it dead on, causing it to collapse and sink rapidly. Destroyer sunk by a U-Boat a week or so later, with at least one sailor attributing the sinking to the albatross effect of having killed the sea monster. I want to say this was somewhat earlier in the war, say 1916 or so.

    A further thought- Obviously these animals were always rare, or else they would be listed right alongside whales as known denizens of the deep, but the majority of sightings occured during the age of sail. Sailing ships make very little noise, compared to modern cargo ships and oil tankers. Could this explain the scarcity of modern reports? Or did the 19th century slaughter of whales eliminate their main food source, and they have yet to recover? As always, food for thought…

  10. dogu4 responds:

    Thanks for that corroboration, Mnynames. Would love to know more if you come across it. I can understand where details like that would be supressed or presumed to be imaginary or misidentified, so the fact that there were a couple could mean they were more plentiful though no one would suggest an every-day kind of event.
    And that’s interesting speculation about sail versus mechanical power, and it would make sense, though the powered ships move over wider and more remote parts of the ocean since they don’t rely on the regular winds and currents that dictated the routes of almost all traffic before power.
    In the mean time I’ll keep my eyes open for those Farley Mowat book, (Sea of Slaughter)which I will say again, might open your eyes when it comes to imagining the kind of wild landscape that we think was like what we see now, for the most part, but was infact crucially different, Native Americans’ impacts (positive and negative) not withstanding.
    Remus; regarding the indiginous people, Farley Mowat, since I referrenced him, is also the author of a couple of books regarding the caribou culture of the woodland Eskimo in Northern Canada, “the People of the Deer” and “the Desperate People” which I’m sure most people with an interest in the history, would find very interesting.

  11. Mnynames responds:

    Actually Dogu, most modern ships take as direct a route as possible, and their speeds are much greater, making their travel times shorter. Thus, wide regions of the oceans today are seldom observed, despite the increased number of vessels travelling today.

  12. dogu4 responds:

    Interesting point and I see what you mean, Mnynames. From either perspective what we see on the surface is but a brief glimpse of what’s happening, and as for what’s below; even moreso, keeping us continuously interested in reports like these.

  13. Remus responds:

    Aye matey, they’re out there in the deep!

    My great uncle was in the navy during WWII and piloted an anti-submarine wooden hulled sailing ship off the East Coast.
    The german subs couldn’t hear her and (magnetic) mines would not be triggered.
    I believe that the idea of modern (noisy) boats cutting down on sightings is right on.

    dogu4, I’ll look out for the books you mentioned. I had never heard of them or Farley Mowat. Thanks!

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