Name the Mystery Fish Continued…

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 30th, 2005

The Mystery Continues: Strange Fish Remains Unidentified

Over 25,000 visits to the "Name the Mystery Fish" Cryptomundo blog produced some interesting leads, a dating for the postcard, and much speculation on what the unknown fish species might be. But the mystery continues…

Yesterday’s blog "Name the Mystery Fish" received an enormous amount of interest and generated the largest number of comments seen here yet.

It continues to stimulate speculation across the Internet. The case remains open as to when, where, and what kind of fish is pictured.

The identification of this specimen is still unsolved and your further comments are welcome at the original blog or here.

Today, I post the entire back of the Mystery Fish postcard, in this new blog, so all could see it. As you can observe, this old postcard, now determined, thanks to the research of you, Cryptomundo readers, appears to have been produced between 1904-18.

The location that is in the lead seems to be in the Pacific, perhaps the Philippines. But some still feel it might be WWI France. I don’t know.

Naming this mystery fish is an open question, and no, I don’t know the answer. No trickery here.

This is a true-life cryptozoological mystery that is unfolding right before your eyes on this blog. Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful assistance in trying to solve this one.

Mystery Fish Postcard

(Click on image to see full size version)

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.

71 Responses to “Name the Mystery Fish Continued…”

  1. ahanlon responds:

    Umm, does anyone else think that this whole debate is a joke? I mean it is clearly a shark with its fin cut/abraided off; you can see the lower fins in the picture!?! It even has a pointed head like a shark..

    follow the stick laying next to it until you see the pointed fin of many species of shark, my guess is tiger.

  2. PVarring responds:

    It IS a goonch catfish. Apperently there´s A LOT of different species, but I got several photos of a Goonch catfish whose eyes and mouth AND marking are EXACT matches with the one on the postcard. Just a couple more days and I´ll post it.

    Peter Varring Jensen

    Ps: the catfish I mentioned was caught on rod and reel. Try looking through some angling pages.

  3. shovethenos responds:


    If you’re going with the traumatized and decomposing shark theory there are a lot of problems with it. Just off the top of my head: No dorsal. No front side fins or scars/stubs where they were. Coloration is unusual. Eyes are off. Snout is off. No pronounced gill slits and if you’re saying its been skinned there would probably be portions of the underlying gill structures visible. And I’m not sure what you’re looking at when you describe the “fin”, but the most prominent thing I see is a twig that casts its own discrete shadow.

    I’m perfectly willing to admit it could be a hoax or a known species, it’s just an unusual picture and I haven’t been convinced by the explanations so far.


    Anxiously awaiting your evidence. The more pictures and links the better.

  4. PVarring responds:

    My miserable computer skills won´t allow me to post pictures here, but I´ve got a couple of photos I can mail to you(maybe you can post them?)


  5. AfterShock responds:


    If I had to guess what this creature is, I’d have to say it’s a tiger shark. Sure, there are no fins, the body seems a little small for the head, etc., but decomposition can do many strange things, especially with aquatic species.


    You can use to post any pictures for free. And I don’t believe I’m getting the point of whether the catfish was caught on a rod or not. The fish would look the same regardles….

  6. shovethenos responds:


    I’m skeptical of the rotting shark theory. The tiger shark has these huge eyes that are right by the nostril, that wouldn’t change much through decomposition. If you can still see them both, they should be at the right proportions.


    I have problems getting attachments, can you try to post them? If not let me know and I’ll e-mail. It would be handy if posted because everyone can link to it as well.

  7. purrlcat responds:

    Here’s the ‘striped donkey’ photo Shovethenos wanted to see. Hope this works. I went to ImageShack like suggested above, but I still don’t know what I am doing.

    Anyway, I believe the donkey is wearing a tiger or zebra skin under his saddle with exposed areas painted with stripes. OR he is just painted with stripes all over. I hear the (Mexican?) vendors decorated their donkeys in hope of luring in tourists. (And still practice this.) This photo has NO clue on the back, not even a stamp box. But I think the women’s clothing screams ‘the 50s.’ Any comments?

  8. Crystalwren responds:

    Could it be a goblin shark? There was a case of one earlier this year, that swallowed an anchor and was subsquently pulled up to the surface; on a USA naval boat if memory serves. If it washed up, decomposition might explain further oddities.

  9. max cooper responds:

    This is printed on AZO postcard paper. The paper may be dated by looking at the four triangles at the corners of the stamp area. On this one, they are all pointing upward, and between the triangles appears the word ‘AZO’. The four upward triangles denote AZO postcard paper manufactured anywhere from 1904 to 1918.


    This is most certainly a one-off postcard, as mentioned already. I think that this is either not an actual animal, or it is one that has been modified.

  10. shovethenos responds:


    Thanks. For reference here are some zebra/donkey (zedonkey) and zebra/ass pictures.

    These hybrids are real and people have been breeding them since colonial times. You can find a lot of pictures by googling things like “zebra hybrid”, etc.

    As for your picture, the animal in question is blurry and off-center, but it looks to me like a full-blood zebra that has been saddled and trained to accept a rider. This has also been done before, you can probably get a picture example by googling as well.

    The reason why I say this is the animal’s stripes look too pronounced – most of the hybrid pictures of zedonkeys and zorses I’ve seen show some faded striping on the body with some more pronounced striping on the legs. Maybe it could be a 3/4 zebra hybrid, although I don’t know how many zedonkeys or zorses are fertile.

    In any case thanks again for posting it, looks like you are building quite a collection of odd photos there.

  11. shovethenos responds:


    Boy goblin sharks are ugly, I’ve never seen one before.

    I’m still a skeptic of the decomposed shark theory. The decomposed tarpon theory too.

  12. bobsmith responds:

    For what its worth, check out these photos of a washed up megamouth shark.

  13. AfterShock responds:

    bobsmith –

    Interesting photos! And there’s some pretty strong similarities as well. Thanks.

  14. AFFA responds:

    I have no idea what the fish is, but it’s common in Tijuana for tourists to get photos taken with “striped donkeys.” I suspect that’s where the other photo was taken.

    I don’t know if they’re zebras, dyed donkeys, or hybrids. Hybrids are possible, but usually zebra hybrids only have stripes over part of the body and/or have much fainter stripes and more of them. I suspect they are actually donkeys with dyed hair, but I don’t know if anyone’s ever looked into it.

  15. purrlcat responds:

    I think maybe, if the donkey is not wearing the skin of a tiger or zebra, the he has been painted by the owner. The stripes don’t look consistent enough to be natural. Also, would a Mexican street vendor really be able to acquire an actual zebra or even a hybrid?? Doesn’t seem likely. At least not back in the 50s.

  16. shovethenos responds:

    Here’s a bunch of zebra riding pictures. Also elk and ostrich riding.

    Pretty strange. If you posted these here I bet a bunch of people would come out of the woodwork saying they were photoshopped or hoaxed.

    As far as the possibility of zebra hybrids in Mexico, I wouldn’t doubt it. There’s been zoos, circuses, carnivals, etc. all over the place since before the turn of the century. But in my opinion the white stripes in purrlcat’s picture look pretty real.

  17. jmsage responds:

    It has a vertical tail, indicating a fish of some kind, as the obvious gill supports as well. I’m seeing a shark-like head, one gill slit, an eel-like body, and a small tail. I’m genuinely stumped.

  18. youcantryreachingme responds:

    stay tuned… the photo is from 1912 and a town named San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua…

  19. stillserchin responds:

    As far as where the picture was taken you have a choice of the following areas where these Marines were possibly located:
    Philippines 1899-1902
    Panama 1901-1902, 1903-1904
    Nicaragua 1909-1910, 1912-1913
    Dominican Republic 1903-1904, 1916-1924
    Cuba 1906-1909, 1912,1917
    Mexico 1914
    Haiti 1915-1934
    I still woudn’t rule out A WWII locale.
    As far as what species of fish, shark, eel or “something else” this critter might be is anybody’s guess. Looking closely at the background behind the shed is what appears to be a river and marsh, fresh water type. Anyway the Marines have surely caught “The Mystery Catch of the Day.”

  20. perfectlymistaken responds:

    I think it’s an Oarfish.

    In this newspaper clipping there is even a reference to what I think is in this picture.

    Sorry if it’s been solved, I just find it fascinating.

  21. cryptomaniac responds:

    The fish does look skinned,gutted and definned the head does resemble a shark or a wels (a type of giant catfish) and with the pile of wood behind these guys, they quite possibly are getting ready to smoke or cook it.

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