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Still Unsolved: Mystery Fish Postcard Photo

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 26th, 2008

mystery fish small

Despite speculations, theories, thoughts, rumors, ideas, hypotheses, and claims, this longest standing mystery at Cryptomundo has never been fully solved.

The postcard photo, originally sent to me by Phyllis Mancz of Ohio, has become such an enigmatic icon that it became part of the design on the front of my new edition of Mysterious America: The Ultimate Guide to the Nation’s Weirdest Wonders, Strangest Spots, and Creepiest Creatures.

The Mystery Fish postcard, first noted here on November 29, 2005, has never been identified, as to exact location or species. New people sometimes have new ideas. Lots of new readers may not be familiar with this Cryptomundo mystery. So here goes….(if you are an oldtimer at Cryptomundo, please have patience; new ideas and a new view might really help).

Mystery Fish Enhanced

(Click on image to see full size version, enhanced by shockbeton)

Due to research (see below) on the type of postcard it is, there was a determination that this specific item would have been produced between 1904-18.

The location seems to be in the Pacific; perhaps it was taken in the Philippines. Or maybe even Florida?

One reader said this might be during WWI, in the south of France, because of the uniforms, but what of those palm trees? Where are these trees found? Can you identify the kind of trees?

Due to several requests for a closeup of the head of the mystery cryptid on the postcard, here’s a computer enhancement.

What do you see here?

Mystery Fish Closeup

(Click image for full-size version)

Mystery Fish Enhancement

(Click image for full-size version, provided by Todd DiLaMuca)

Mystery Fish Enhancement

(Click image for full-size version, provided by Todd DiLaMuca)

Here is a roundup of all four (+ one) direct links to the “Mystery Fish Photo” entries in the Cryptomundo.com blog, which were posted in 2005 and 2006:

“Name the Mystery Fish”

“Name the Mystery Fish Continued”

“Mystery Fish Comparison”

“Mystery Fish Head Closeup”

Reactions continued, as well, into 2006: “Mystery Fish Revisited”

More than three hundred comments, most of them extremely thoughtful and detailed, can be found at the above noted entries, and yours are welcome anew, here, below. To date almost 3,000,000 views of the Cryptomundo “Mystery Fish” photo have occurred.

Mystery Fish Enhancement

(Click image for full-size version, provided by Todd DiLaMuca)

+++Date of the Postcard++++

The earlier discussions noted the date was between 1904-1918 for this postcard. For example, in this hyperlinked blog (please click), the entire back of the postcard is pictured. Various pieces of research exactly determined that the diagnostic direction of the triangles give forth with a specific range of when these postcards were produced. While the men and the fish could have been photographed before 1904, they could not have been photographed and appeared on this card after 1918.

The window of time for this event is, therefore, most probably, between 1890 and 1918. But certainly, this photograph was not taken anytime after 1918.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. 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.


66 Responses to “Still Unsolved: Mystery Fish Postcard Photo”

  1. KurtB responds:

    Definitely the Pacific and definitely early 20th century. The big wound on the bottom rear of the head interests me.

    My grandfather was stationed in the Pacific in the 1930s. To pass the time, the enlisted men would go shark fishing. Sorry if this sounds gruesome, but after they caught a shark they would sometimes cut-off the fins and throw it back in the water (different time and different view on sharks I’m afraid). Once he came back to the ship and found the deck covered in blood and shark pieces.

    Could this animal be a mutilated shark with its fins cut-off?

  2. KurtB responds:

    One more thought, the mouth isn’t really as wide as it looks. I think there’s a blood smear connecting the corner of the actual mouth to the gill slit.

  3. Ann Unknown responds:

    I would tend to agree with KurtB.

    Wonder how far back the taking of shark jaws for souvenirs goes? Could they be removed from the carcass in this fashion?

  4. shumway10973 responds:

    the close-ups of the head does scream shark. I’m no expert on how large certain shark’s mouths get, but if you covered the “mouth” where it begins curving up, it looks like a normal shark to me.

  5. Saint Vitus responds:

    I’ll have to agree with the mutilated shark theory. The gills or mouth are not visible at all, that line is just smeared blood, possibly made to look like a mouth on purpose to make the shark look like some kind of sea monster. If it is in the Pacific, that would make it even more likely to be a shark with its fins cut off, because shark fin soup is popular in that area. I suppose it could have been taken in Florida, those palm trees do look somewhat like the native Florida ones, but the picture doesn’t give a very good view of them.

  6. plant girl responds:

    The eyes look like similar to a sharks.

  7. lochnesshunter responds:

    To me (and I don’t have to much experience in Marine Bioloolgy (sp?)) It looks like either a well fed fish, a “Nessie” baby or like KurtB said “A shark with its fins cut off”

    A fun mystery none the less. Good luck. ;)

  8. shumway10973 responds:

    wait a minute. I have it. This is a shark. Mouth does go back to where the line for the mouth is horizontal. The moment it curves upward, that is something completely different. Now, exactly what and why the curve? Well, one thing that popped into my mind was that someone in the pic was a jokester. The shark had to smile for the photo. Take a little blood and give it a smile. The only other thing I can think of is that the curve is actually a scar. I prefer to think it’s a smile.

  9. lochnesshunter responds:

    Yet another reason why I wish time travel was invented.

  10. squatch-toba responds:

    How about this one? (I know absolutely nothing about sharks BTW) I think it might be a skinned nurse shark. The picture could be from Australia, the shark skinned for the “leather”, fins removed for what-ever reason. Is the mouth on a nurse shark kind of on the smaller side and not as wide as, for instance, a white shark? This is a very perplexing picture, somebody must know its origins!

  11. ecanale responds:

    Look at the first picture. Look at the snout and the eyes. Then look at the body. See the markings on the body? It is obvious that its a mutilated Tiger Shark. I compared it with pictures in a Shark book I have and on the web. The specimen in the picture was tampered with to make it look likesomething other than what it was.

  12. Ann Unknown responds:

    Could the mouth actually be a line burn, inflected when it was caught? The real jaw would be under the creature, and not visible.

  13. Ann Unknown responds:

    … unless the jaw was hacked off, along with the teeth.

  14. unclemonkey responds:

    Is there any way to determine if the photo was tampered with? If there is evidence of that, it would sort of render the debate about WHAT the creature is moot.

  15. SOCALcryptid responds:

    Tiger shark. Fins cut off, jaws taken. I can notice the blunt nose. Looks like the pic was taken in the tropics. This is a good mystery photo. I’m not certain it is a tiger shark, it just has similar features.

  16. PhotoExpert responds:

    Loren,

    You had written above the following:

    While the men and the fish could have been photographed before 1904, they could not have been photographed and appeared on this card after 1918.

    I have to objectively disagree with that statement and explain why that statemnet is incorrect. Actually, they could have been photographed and appeared on this card after 1918.

    The reason for that is that ASO was a type of photographic paper made by Kodak. Originally, it was used as contact sheet paper. And because it worked great with low light sources, many photographers of the time would lie their negatives on those sheets of photographic paper and make what is known as a “contact sheet”. Kodak then used this paper as postcard paper because it was so cost effective and easy to use.

    We know by the arrows on the back of the postcard, the approximate year of the making of the ASO photographic paper. You will notice where the postage stamp is supposed to go, the words ASO with arrows or triangles in the corners. Some papers made during a certain time period had all triangels pointing upward or in the same direction. And in other years, two of the triangles pointed up and two pointed down.

    But this is where you are incorrect, when you stated the photo could not have been made after 1918. The fact that it is photographic paper, means that it was manufactured during a certain time period but that it could have been printed any time after that. In fact, I have photographic paper from the seventies that I could still use. And you can actually buy the ASO photographic postcard stock in unused condition online, still to this day. You can purchase that exact card stock right now on the internet in great or unopened condition. There are actually people selling it and guarantee it to work as they just used a sheet or two within the last couple of months.

    What this means is that if you can buy it today and print on it today, the postcard could have been printed after 1918 and not as you stated that it could not have been printed after 1918. I did not want our readers here researching this photo without having all the correct facts. The fact that this particular card has no post mark on it with the date and location, makes that a distinct possibility. If the post mark were on that postcard, then we know when the photograph was put on there. But since it lacks the postmark from the post office, it could have been printed on that photo postcard stock at any time. Why, I could even buy some online today, take a photograph, retouch it to make it look authentic, and then print on that old photograph paper. If you keep any unexposed photographic paper in proper climate control storage, it will last almost indefinitely, or at least several decades. Proof of that is being able to by the same unexposed ASO card stock on the internet today and getting very acceptable photographic prints from them. You can do an internet search for it and find it on the net in useable form.

    So we can not rule out the possibility of that photo of the men and cryptid fish being a hoax. It most definitely can be a hoax. Although I do think the photograph was taken somewhere between 1910 and 1940. I am also not sure if the photograph was hoaxed at the time even if it were taken prior to 1918. But my point is, and I had to make that correction, that the photo could have been printed a couple of years ago with some good photoshopping. So we can not discount the fact the photo may have been reproduced or produced after that 1918 date as you stated.

    Also, another thing worth mentioning is that everyone is concentrating on the head of this fishlike animal. As a fisherman, I tend to concentrate on the entire fish. I am looking at the opposite end of the fish and notice the tail. That is not the tail of any tarpon, shark or other fish I know of that size. Simply look at the tail and we can discount almost all sharks and species of tarpon. That tail has more of a basslike look to it than it has anything else or perhaps a catfish type look. So if you could enhance the tail a bit, like you did of the head shots of the fish, that would also help in identifying any known species. I think putting some of our concentration on the other end of this fishlike animal will rule out many of the theories suggested by some readers.

    Thanks for bringing this up again for a closer look.

  17. Loren Coleman responds:

    I guess that’s why the handle “PhotoExpert” makes sense. Good oberservations about the paper and dating, and that’s exactly why I posted this again. New eyes, another look, new thoughts.

    If a hoax or not a hoax, the period clothing must be deciphered for some kind of dating, again. Back to square one on the date of the postcard.

  18. PhotoExpert responds:

    Oh, I left out one other observation I had made. I am not sure that this scene was taken in the tropics. It looks like area in the background of the scene is a tidal marsh area. Take a closer look there. And because of the military style clothing, this photo could have been taken of the East Coast of the United States. Given the palm trees in the background, I am thinking it could have been taken anywhere from South Carolina down to Florida.

  19. Ann Unknown responds:

    Someone in a previous post did mentioned what they thought were “wrist watches” and “zippers in trousers”.

    After what era did men find it fashionable to go hatless?

  20. KurtB responds:

    A bit of help in dating the photo.

    The gent in the middle is wearing a model M-1911 Campaign Hat with a Marine Corps Globe and Anchor device.

    Not surprisingly, the M-1911 did not exist prior to 1911. The use of the hat was discontinued in 1939, although it remained optional in some places. It was completely out of use by the end of WW2, but reappeared as the headgear for drill instructors in 1956.

    Therefore, the photo was not taken prior to 1911. It was certainly taken sometime between 1911 and 1945, most likely between 1911 and 1939.

    Everything about this photo suggests to me that it was taken in the inter-war years.

  21. Ann Unknown responds:

    Here’s a possible clue, men’s trousers didn’t regularly have zippers in them until the late 30s and early 40s.

    – Skeptical… responds: November 30th, 2005 at 4:32 pm

    I still have not located the comment on the watches, but there could(?) be something on the wrist of the man 3rd from the left.

    Thank you, PhotoExpert.

    That original date was really bothering me as well.

  22. KurtB responds:

    A few more dating gems.

    The two men on the right are wearing M1937 khaki belts. We know this because of the open-style buckle. This style of belt was in use between 1937 and 1945. It was not used after the war. It was not used before 1937.

    It’s tough to tell what style of trousers the men are wearing, however, they look like khakis to me. Khakis were worn as field dress until the HBT Utilities became available in 1941. The pants in the photo are not HBT utilities.

    Photo was taken sometime between 1937 and 1945, most likely between 1937 and 1941.

  23. Ann Unknown responds:

    If that badge, on the 2nd man from the left, is in fact an election button, then in 1940 US Presidential Election, Franklin Roosevelt & Henry Wallace vs. Wendell Willkie & Charles McNary.

    Is anyone an election button collector?

  24. Loren Coleman responds:

    It is highly doubtful that is a campaign button. The wearing of political buttons was prohibited if you were in the military, and certainly there is not enough detail to consider it a political pin.

    However, there were all kinds of other buttons people wore, for their unions (e.g. Bell Telephone, IBEW), for fun (e.g. Lone Ranger, St. Nicholas League), for products (e.g. Buster Brown shoes, Ritz crackers, Maltex Breakfast Award), and for other reasons (e.g. March of Dimes polio campaign, Fight Cancer, Red Cross). There were even military-related buttons (e.g. V for Victory, Liberty Loans, War Chest, I’m Enlisted). NRA buttons were also popular.

  25. Ann Unknown responds:

    The gray scale would be correct for any red, white, and blue button.

    It may have merely said “VOTE”.

  26. noobfun responds:

    there’s definitely something on the third guys wrist, watch or bracelet the glint is at the side of the wrist so unlikely to be the face of a watch

    i do have issues with the shark theory
    mutilated for smiles or not

    if you take the end of the *mouth* it curves up into the body the recurves at the top back towards the head which could be a gill cover as you would find in fish

    if you take what appears to be a bloody stump where the fin appears to have been removed that means the gills would be forward of this point, there are several dark lines in the area but the numbers are wrong and they are not long enough to be gill slits

    taken from http://www.shark.ch/Information/Features/index.html

    and as PhotoExpert pointed out the tail is definitely wrong unless that was mutilated to

    but with the gills missing/hidden behind a cover plate this is definitely not a shark

  27. SOCALcryptid responds:

    Loren, has anyone noticed what appears to be a forked tounge hanging from the side of the mid mouth area? The fork is darker in color than the tounge. Could also be the tail of the bait fish used to catch this thing. Just something else that I have observed.

  28. Saint Vitus responds:

    The reason the mouth and gill slits are not visible is that the shark is lying on its side, so the top of its head is facing us. The more I look at this photo the more I am convinced it is a shark.

  29. Ann Unknown responds:

    I admit that this is in NO way conclusive, but I did a Google Image Search, and the Wendell Willkie campaign pin-back buttons for the 1940 election were predominately red, white and blue, and in the same proportions as whatever that is (albeit in gray scale) on the 2nd man from the left’s shirt.

    Could the men have been off-duty, or decommissioned but still wearing parts of old, or surplus uniforms?

    It would be nice to tie this to a specific year, though I admit that it is highly unlikely that we can.

  30. darkshines responds:

    To me it is clear the animal has been gutted. There is a clear line running the length of it, in the head shot you can see matter oozing from around the head/neck area. To make his clearer, I ringed some key dark areas in a picture:

    http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i222/darkshinestheassassin/cryptofishcloseup1.jpg

    It has the clear bloody wound on the neck, and what to me looks like grazing down the side, like it has been dragged over smething rough, rather than markings like on a tiger…..

  31. mantis responds:

    That is clearly a man in a shark costume.

  32. scosmo451 responds:

    Was this photo taken in the morning or evening? From the angle of the shadows, it seems that it was not taken midday. I would think evening as you would spend the day fishing and pose with your catch in the evening. Is the gentleman in the Smokey hat sweating such as you would at the end of the day?

    But what about the possibility that this picture was taken in the morning after some night fishing action? There are many species of fish that move up from the depths to feed near the surface at night and many of them would not have much photographic evidence in existence.

    Did they even catch this or was it washed up with the tide, possibly already decaying? Most fisherman I know of would pose with the rod used to land the animal and that was especially done in the earlier parts of this century when quality fishing gear was something to be proud of and displayed accordingly. Of course, these are likely Marines, so perhaps they just wrenched it in by hand or shot it. Is that some type of stretcher it appears on, one that, perhaps, it was rolled onto after being found on the beach?

    What are the “barrels” in the screened shed? Perhaps some identification of them would help pinpoint time or location. Possibly a trash storage facility placed in screening to limit the number of flies breeding? I have seen images of that type of structure before in photos from the tropical Pacific.

    I agree that it looks like salt marsh in the background. It also looks like there might be some kind of dock visible through the screening standing quite a ways above the waterline.

    That guy (or gal) all the way to the right looks like a big fellow. Not only is the shadow large, but his fingers look like thick sausages. He appears to be wearing some type of bracelet or watch as well. The shape of the figure reminds me of the large body types commonly seen in the South Pacific, but the arm does appear to be caucasian. It also looks like the whole area around it is washed out and lacks contrast so maybe it just appears white – certainly whiter than the other men’s arms. Perhaps a fishing guide for some Marines on leave?

    I also agree that the tail does not look very “sharky” but more like a bass.

    In conclusion, I think it’s a shark head sewn onto the body of a tall mermaid…

  33. ClicknPsycho responds:

    I have seen this a long time ago and still believe it to be a Frillshark.

    (copy and paste links to your browser to view pics)

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/01/photogalleries/frilled-shark/images/primary/frillshark-big-2.jpg

    http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/FrilledSharkG_468x331.jpg

    http://www.cnn.com/interactive/tech/0701/gallery.rare.shark/gal.01.frillshark.gi.jpg

    http://centripetalnotion.com/images/frillshark2.jpg

  34. maslo63 responds:

    I notice a lot of people saying it looks like a tiger shark. I agree. When I first saw the photo perhaps a year ago tiger shark was the first thought that came into my mind as well. I am not 100% certain of course but I would bet money on it at least being a shark of some kind.

  35. Samson77 responds:

    This is clearly a megamouth shark.
    The large mouth and black “lips” give it away.

  36. jkeiche responds:

    Just a hunch, but I reckon it is Donsol or Sorsogon, Philippines, and a rather immature Whale or Megamouth Shark.

  37. obastide responds:

    To me, more than anything, it looks like a gunny sack with an eye and mouth painted on it.

  38. ahoward3 responds:

    I believe the location could be Wake Island or Midway Island if it is not the Philippines – almost every Marine in the world spent time in Subic Bay Philippines from after the Spanish American War until the start of WWII due to the unique training environment. The fish appears to be a finned Tiger shark, plentiful in all these locations during the inter-war years and it is perhaps slightly dessicated due to tropical climate exposure.

  39. fallofrain responds:

    I may as well drop in my 2 cents worth (that’s about what it’s worth). It looks to me like a nurse shark that has been mutilated, skinned, gutted and/or decomposing. There are shadows around the nose that could have been barbels, The eyes are smallish and located high on the head. I think not only were the fins usually removed, but that the skin was also sometimes taken and tanned. The size is about right. Assuming the dark streak along the head is a blood stain, making the mouth actually somewhat small, the mouth would be about right, too. The nurse shark is found along the Pacific coast from Mexico to Peru, and in the Atlantic from Rhode Island to Brazil, also off West Africa. It’s especially common in the Caribbean.

    As for the soldiers, if they are Marines, is there any possibility this might have been taken at Guantanamo? I’m not sure when we acquired Guantanamo, but it was probably some time soon after the Spanish-American War in the late 1890s. If not Gitmo, where else could Marines have been in the tropics in the early 20th Century?

    It’s fun guessing.

  40. CamperGuy responds:

    Looks skinned and gutted elsewhere and carried to the shed area on a canvas tarp. The men in the photo look too clean to have just done the job so either someone else did the work or they got cleaned up before taking the picture.

    I think the animal was speared in the upper back head area.

    Possibly the barrels could be used in a rendering process for the skins. If so the number of barrels would indicate an ongoing situation.

    I wondered why the head was left on. Heavier to carry. If the meat is being sold to it would bring a better price with the head on since the eyes are an indicator of the freshness of the meat.

    I’m continually amazed at the depth of knowlege of the posters on this site.

  41. Cryptonut responds:

    I’m with Samson. Looking at pics of Megamouth, this thing looks a lot like it. If you go straight down from the eye, you can see where it was either cut, or blood spread to make it look like a much larger mouth. I would bet that it was either skinned, or washed up on shore deteriorated in that state. That may have been what was left of the tail or cut away. Either that, or perhaps the photo was touched up to remove the tail, or alter it’s appearance. Looking at some other pictures online, if the top part of the tail fin was cut off, or deteriorated, the tail of the megamouth could look “Bass-like”….The lateral banding on the megamouth, could that be post photo touch up as well? In terms of the possibilities for where the picture was taken, is this the megamouth a fit??

  42. Skogul responds:

    Call me overly skeptical, but the head reminds me more of a wooden carving than an actual fishes head, haha.

  43. steele79 responds:

    i think it clearly looks like a partially decomposed shark with no fins on it or the closeups look like maybe it was a fake paper mache or something it does look like the the pic was taken in the southern us with the palm trees and tidal marsh in the background but like most pics the simplest answer is usually the correct one

  44. Vampyre21 responds:

    This may be way out there, but to me it almost looks like a piece of drift wood. The little shack thats in the background looks to be some kind of toilet area that they would put up for soldiers. Perhaps this photo was from Vietnam? IF it is a piece of drift wood, it way have been placed there for the soldiers to sit on while they waited their turn for the bathroom, and if any one sat there long enough and got bored, maybe they noticed that the piece of wood look somewhat like a fish and my have carved an eye socket, or it could just be a knot in the wood. When you look closely at the picture you can see what looks like wood grain running all the way down the whole thing. I think that there is more “stick” to this fish stick than “fish”.

  45. Ann Unknown responds:

    Why do there appear to be folds in the mens trousers just below the knees? Don’t Marines roll their uniforms for packing? Did they fold them until a certain date?

  46. noobfun responds:

    Saint Vitus
    responds:
    January 26th, 2008 at 7:44 pm
    The reason the mouth and gill slits are not visible is that the shark is lying on its side, so the top of its head is facing us. The more I look at this photo the more I am convinced it is a shark.

    ———————————-
    no offense but you may wish to clean your glasses and check again

    as the gutting cut is at the bottom of the picture that would mean they decided to gut this down its side though its rib cage in a way no animal or fish has even been gutted before

    and if we are looking at the top of its head it only has 1 eye and its pectoral fin migrated from below its body to above its eye to make it look like a rabbit?

    theres two new species of shark brought forward now mega mouth and frill shark

    it has features that could go either way with either, again except they both have visable gill slits in both colour and black and white photos

    if its a shark its the shark that breaks all the shark rules

    it would be equivalent to an insect with an internal skeleton and fur

  47. Samson77 responds:

    Here are some pictures of dead and alive megamouths.
    Look at the tail, eyes and mouth.

    http://www.sharkmans-world.com/mega.html

  48. KurtB responds:

    The convenient thing about military items is that they can be dated pretty easily if you know what you’re looking at. Read through my previous posts. This isn’t a difficult photo to date. These are typical pre-WW2 US Marines on service in a tropical place.

    As for the trousers, Marines never rolled them. Prior to the introduction of herringbone twill utilities in 1941 they wore the khakis the men appear to be wearing in the photo. In garrison (like these men obviously are) or on work details they would have worn them like regular pants. In the field (for training or combat) they would have worn canvas leggings (gaiters) over them that went from below the knee to the top of the boot and secured with laces.

    No need to try and identify mystery political buttons or figure out if the pants have zippers or not. These are clearly US Marines. The man in the center is wearing a model M1911 campaign hat with Marine Corps insignia on it. It’s called an M1911 because that was its year of its introduction. It was completely withdrawn from service by 1945. Hence, the photo was noted taken prior to 1911 or after 1945.

    The two men on the right are wearing model M1937 belts. These have open face buckles. The belts issued before the M1937 did not. This allows us to say the photo was taken no earlier than 1937.

    Marines were issued with the herringbone twill combat utilities beginning in 1941. The utility trousers replaced the khakis at that time. This strongly suggests that these men were photographed prior to 1941, definitely photographed prior to 1942 (allowing for their serving in some remote place and being last to receive the new pants).

    All this information gives us a date between 1937 and 1941, maybe 42. The men in the photo aren’t actors and haven’t been photo shopped-in. My feeling is that this is an entirely genuine photograph. If the animal in it were intended as a hoax, then it’s a pretty lame hoax. It doesn’t look sea monster-like enough to me to use in a postcard anyway. It looks like a mutilated shark.

    Either in their spare time or for lack of anything better to do these marines caught a tiger shark, a maneater! They cut off its fins and put it on a stretcher-like conveyance to bring it off the beach. This obviously required some effort as the men are down to their t-shirts and sweating. The mutilation combined with the way the animal is positioned make it look a bit unusual. To the photographer, landing a maneating shark was a noteworthy event. The men look like they’re wondering how they’re going to turn the shark into a meal. Perhaps the building behind them is in fact some sort of mess facility.

  49. olejason responds:

    I found some pictures of a finned megamouth for comparison.

    http://megamouth.elizaga.net/28/79_atestuary.jpg

    http://megamouth.elizaga.net/28/85_preparation.jpg

  50. fallofrain responds:

    The frilled shark has been nominated several times as a possibility. My reference books say that the frilled shark reaches a maximum length of 6.5 feet. The stick on the ground next to the shark appears to be about 5 feet long, compared to the men. That would make the shark in the photo about 10 feet. Even longer, if you include the missing (or not visible) tail. Sorry, seems to big for a frilled.

  51. AlbertaSasquatch responds:

    Is it just me or does the head look like a giant snake head. Maybe this is one of those 100 foot anacondas. Just my two cents.

  52. kittenz responds:

    The problem with trying to date a photo going by styles of clothing, etc, is that, while there is always an earliest date that some item was used or worn, that same item could have been worn or used long after its use was “officially” discontinued.

    A couple of things about this photo have always bugged me. The “mouth” looks like it was either painted on, or maybe it’s just a flaw in the photo. At any rate, it does not look like the actual mouth of any real fish.

    The second odd thing is in the right side of the photo. There is a man standing there, off-camera, with his hand leaning against the shed. His shadow falls on the shed: it is a well-defined, dark shadow. But the shadow does not fall on the fish! Even though the man’s shadow is positioned in such a way that it should fall across the tail of the fish, there is no sign of the man’s shadow there.

    Those two oddities cause me to doubt the authenticity of this photo.

  53. planettom responds:

    Ah, the great mystery fish. I still lean towards the shark idea as i still believe this one to be de-finned and such. I also believe some of the markings we see are blood streaks and or lacerations/cuts on the carcass.

    I had my dad take a look and here are his ideas on the thing:

    “Checked out the picture. Very interesting. The picture could be of a fish related to eels. It’s a rare type of fish and I’ve looked for it on line but I can’t come up with anything. I saw a picture of one of these a long time ago. The word “regal” or “king” fits into the name but I’m not sure how. The “regal” or “king” could be part of the name for the Kingdom, Phylum, or Class, etc. Not much help I know. Sorry.”

    Things that make ya go hmmm……

  54. gavinfundyk responds:

    I was really leaning toward the shark i.d., but, why did they take a picture with it if it was just a shark?
    And why cut off the fins before taking the picture?

    I think whatever it was, those men in the picture couldn’t identify it either.

    Also, while the picture is grainy, where are the signs that they cut off the fins? I’ve seen video of fisherman catching sharks, cutting off their fins, and throwing them back. They just cruelly cut the fins off without taking the time to make it clean. They just take the largest amount they can without wasting time. The fish/eel/whatever looks like it never had fins.

  55. planettom responds:

    I did some research, and after following up on my dad’s thoughts of “regal” and “king”, I came across this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Regalecidae

    and

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oarfish

    The oar fish has been discussed on Cryptomundo before, and after viewing images, I don’t think it is an oar fish. But I have to give my dad an “A”+ for his memory.

    In the original photo, it’s hard to tell if the carcass is fresh or decayed and whatnot. It also appears to have a much larger girth than the oar fish.
    Oh well.

  56. michaelm responds:

    Call me crazy, but could it be a giant salamander with its legs cut off? That was my first impression.

  57. Saint Vitus responds:

    I still think this is some kind of mutilated, possibly decaying shark. I think it is lying on its side with its back facing us, and the cut you see on the bottom is where its dorsal fin was cut off. Don’t get me wrong, I think it would be really cool if it was some kind of unknown fish or sea monster, but I think it is just a shark.

  58. Ann Unknown responds:

    Why, do you suppose, are there no flies on the carcass?

  59. Ann Unknown responds:

    I am beginning to suspect that this is not so much an entire animal, as it is a portion of one. Could this be a slab of whale blubber (or other marine mammal) that the men were about to render for the oil?

    There is a wood pile visible in the background. Were they in a pinch for lubricants (for vehicles, weapons, machinery…) because of the Great Depression, and the approaching war? Were they planning to use one of the metal trash cans as a rendering vat? From what I understand, a lot of similar improvisation goes on in military procurement.

  60. CBFResearcher responds:

    After viewing the pictures, again and again, and reading some of the comments, and this is only a guess, I would say shark. What kind? Not sure. But like a couple people mentioned, people cut fins off as well as, now hold on! The entire mouth section, jaw and teeth included. This makes for a great souvenir, especially back then in the mid 20th century in the Philippines or other similar region.

  61. paleobrute responds:

    Loren Coleman responds:
    January 26th, 2008 at 6:48 pm
    “It is highly doubtful that is a campaign button. The wearing of political buttons was prohibited if you were in the military, and certainly there is not enough detail to consider it a political pin.”

    First of all, there’s no proof these men are in the military. They might simply be wearing surplus uniform parts. Second, there’s enough detail to “consider” it as ANY sort of pin or button.

    “However, there were all kinds of other buttons people wore, for their unions (e.g. Bell Telephone, IBEW), for fun (e.g. Lone Ranger, St. Nicholas League), for products (e.g. Buster Brown shoes, Ritz crackers, Maltex Breakfast Award), and for other reasons (e.g. March of Dimes polio campaign, Fight Cancer, Red Cross). There were even military-related buttons (e.g. V for Victory, Liberty Loans, War Chest, I’m Enlisted). NRA buttons were also popular.”

    Um…all that’s non-sequitur. If you’re convinced the men are in the (U.S.) Military, then they would no more be authorized to wear a union button or one from Buster Brown shoes than they would a campaign button.

    Plus, none of that would really help to identify the animal in the photo. It seems this thread has turned into more a “How many details can you identify?” than “What’s this fish?”. Playing Where’s Waldo is fun and all that but stay on the track, no matter what. ;-)

  62. paleobrute responds:

    gavinfundyk
    January 28th, 2008 at 10:49 am
    “I was really leaning toward the shark i.d., but, why did they take a picture with it if it was just a shark?
    ….I think whatever it was, those men in the picture couldn’t identify it either.”

    Based on what? The amazingly perplexed looks on their faces -? (sarcasm: they look more bored than excited about the “unknown cryptid” on the sand). I don’t think we should presume that just becuase someone took a photo it was necessarily because they thought the subject matter was an “unidentified/unknown to science amazing animal!”. People take photos of the mundane all the time. As a collector of WWII militaria, I have entire photo albums of military members wasting film on all kinds of stupid ‘subjects’…just like other people do.

  63. paleobrute responds:

    PhotoExpert responds:
    January 26th, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    “So we can not rule out the possibility of that photo of the men and cryptid fish being a hoax. It most definitely can be a hoax.”

    Um, a hoax of WHAT -? Most hoaxes purport to show something that is intended to amaze, startle, disgust or otherwise elicit a strong reaction. I hardly think this photo would have been expected to make viewers say “Oh WOW! Look at THAT! It’s a MONSTER!” It actually looks rather mundane and although it’s probably going to be impossible to positively identify the species of fish (I feel strongly it’s a mutilated shark) I think the bigger question is actually more “So what?” Go down to Destin Florida (for example) and hang around the fish cleaning area where the day fishing trip boats come in. You’ll see all kinds of mounds of mutilated fish flesh that are unrecognizable especially after laying out in the sun for a day or two. Nobody is running around “Going WOW! Look at THAT! I don’t know what that is so it might be a MONSTER!” You’ll see shark carcasses, too (especially sand sharks) that people caught and just didn’t know what to do with and the sea gulls have been pecking on them and they’re bloated and blah blah blah…I think you folks are making a monster out of a minnow.

  64. paleobrute responds:

    CBFResearcher
    February 1st, 2008 at 1:25 am
    “After viewing the pictures, again and again, and reading some of the comments, and this is only a guess, I would say shark. What kind? Not sure. But like a couple people mentioned, people cut fins off as well as, now hold on! The entire mouth section, jaw and teeth included. This makes for a great souvenir, especially back then in the mid 20th century in the Philippines or other similar region.”

    I think your theory is the most sound and a great example of applying Occam’s Razor.

  65. Kronprinz_adam responds:

    Amazing!!
    Guys, it is HOAX!! A photo-composition, in my opinion it is the head of a DEAD SNAKE superimposed on a big fish body!! No cryptid at all, just creative foto composition!
    Greetings.

  66. Kronprinz_adam responds:

    By the way, I see that the snake head has been noted before by “Alberta Sasquatch” user…



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