Still Unsolved: Mystery Fish Postcard Photo

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.

Leave a Reply

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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……

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.
    ;-)

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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