San Diego Diablo?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 2nd, 2012

What is it?

Okay, it is Groundhog Day, and it does seem like we have been here before. Set the clock for 6:00 am again, and let’s go….

Rocco Castoro of the Vice has published photographs he received of a strange creature that allegedly washed ashore in San Diego. He termed the beast The San Diego Demonoid.

Frankly, I’m a fan, instead, of the name “San Diego Diablo” to celebrate the Spanish cultural elements of the area. Above and below are the two images shared by Rocco Castoro, used with his permission.

Here is the backstory, briefly: An individual named Dylan Dessureault emailed Rocco Castoro the photos, labeling them of a “Chupacabra/Montauk Monster-looking creature” in the subject line. Dessureault said that a friend of his, Josh Menard, a 19-year-old snowboarder from Lake Tahoe, took the photos of the 2-ft-long thing on Pacific Beach in San Diego last week.

While the carcass smelled and flies were on it, nevertheless, rightfully so, Castoro has expressed a good deal of skepticism about this being anything too unusual, even though “Chupacabras” has immediately come into the conversation. Indeed, Rocco Castoro’s first reaction was this: “Most people I’ve shown it to, including myself, think it’s bullshit.”

Castoro has cause for concern.


Ever since the Montauk Monster showed up (and I named it on June 29, 2008), we all should be careful about any beached “cryptids” and “monsters.” The massive media wave afterward (see here) was incredible, and even though I posted the first suggested solution of a raccoon on June 30th, it took weeks for that to sink in. By then, the “Montauk Monster” phenomena had been born.

On the one hand, a normal animal that had decayed but was misidentified could be the source of this San Diego Diablo, or on the other hand, it could be a planted fake. (Sharon Hill points out that Darren Naish solved this last night; he feels it is an opossum. But let me go on with the cautionary note I wish to make.)

Opossum skull

For some years now, I have been discovering that a specific artist, one Juan Cabana, has been behind or his creature creations have been the sources of supposed “mystery cryptids” being found along various shorelines. (This is not to say that Cabana was hoaxing anyone, but his art appears to have been employed, over and over again, because it is so good at fooling people.)

Beached Mermaid

Take for example, on September 25, 2006, I received emails telling me that strange and mysterious “Mermaid photos” supposedly snapped in Mexico, Dominican Republic, or Malaysia were circulating on the Internet. These emails were asking for me to either identify the “Mermaid” or post the photographs on Cryptomundo. But as I posted at the time, I had already previously published several of the photos (see flashback posting here), when Red Sox player David Ortiz had earlier discussed them. The images were of a taxidermy fake.

The Ortiz-media-madness objects pictured were all from one piece of art by Juan Cabana of Miami, who is well-known for his fake Feejee Mermaids. The International Cryptozoology Museum has one of his smaller Feejee Mermaids, created in 1999 (see below). The 2006 beached “Mermaid” probably was photographed from various angles in Cabana’s home state of Florida.

Fiji Mermaid

Interestingly, as the beached object melodrama was beginning to unfold in San Diego, I began to get a few mystery-objects-found emails during the last week. I’ll share two of them.

First, I received the following from CH, who had a “friend” who “trapped” this dead “Chupacabra” in “LA.” But it was not from Los Angeles, but Louisiana.

It was obviously another sad example of a dead candid with a highly contagious infestation of Sarcoptes scabiei canis, that is, mange. End of mystery.

Also I got a note from someone who said they had found a weird animal, which was mostly a head, on a beach.

Trouble is that this is definitely a Juan Cabana creation, seen by many of us before:

So my question is, could the San Diego Diablo be an alert that another Juan Cabana event is around the corner? It does seem funny that one of his creations was floated during this same time frame, doesn’t it? All of this seems intriguingly in line with the kinds of emails I’ve been getting lately.


Oh and yes, I did ask Rocco Castoro where the body of the San Diego Diablo might be. After all, an examination of it would clear up a lot of the mystery. If it was artificial, we could tell that rather quickly. His reply: “It vanished, according to the kids who took the photos….They sent a buddy who lives in the area back to the beach to pick it up, but it was gone.”

Stay tuned. Castoro is going to publish more details from the photographer. Also, there’s Darren Naish’s insights too.

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.

16 Responses to “San Diego Diablo?”

  1. Ulysses responds:

    It’s a PIG ! Looks horrific but down here in sunny South Florida we see this a lot , that is , if you’re looking! I say put it on a spit , roast and we have a Luau !

  2. Jun Bacalzo via Facebook responds:

    Looks like a hardcore dog to me lol. Any ideas of the size of that creature?

  3. shill responds:

    This was solved last night by Darren Naish. Opossum.

  4. Raven Wing via Facebook responds:

    2 feet long

  5. Robert Schneck via Facebook responds:

    “San Diego Diablo” is definitely catchier than “San Diego Dead Dog”.

  6. Shelva Taylor via Facebook responds:

    I’ll at the that even real?

  7. Miles_Martin responds:

    I live in San Diego and I am not so sure that it is an opossum. Sitting right on top of it’s head it looks like it has more of a paw than the hand like appendage that an opossum has.

    I would say it looks more like a small dog. Pacific beach, where the body washed up, is only a little bit North of dog beach, a place where dogs are allowed on the beach and too swim. It is not unreasonable that maybe someone’s small dog got caught in a riptide, drowned, and came ashore on pacific beach.

  8. Miles_Martin responds:

    Also pigs are not too common in San Diego. While it is not impossible for someone to have a pet pot-bellied pig, it does not seem likely and looks too small in the second picture.

  9. paul_r responds:

    My vote would be dog also based on what can be seen of the teeth. Hard to be certain but a little large for an opossum imo.

    Learned a few things about opposums though, like the fact that I have mistakenly called them possums all along! The single greatest thing about my interest in cryptozoology is how many related things about regular animals I have had to learn by accident!

  10. red_pill_junkie responds:

    Down here we call them tlacuaches –from the Nahuatl tlacoatzin— Since you Gringos always <3 to word our 'CHs', you might wanna give it a try. 😉

  11. allenfuchs responds:

    It looks all around fake to me… as in taxidermy or plastic. in the article it was mentioned stinking and covered with flies… I don’t see any flies, and the kind of flies around there, you’d see them. It looks too “hard” for flesh. even the Montauk Monster’s skin looks like it was flexible at one time or another. Why else would it have a mohawk? Not to mention San Diego waters are teaming with all sorts of bacteria, I don’t believe there would be that much of the creature in one piece… it’s too neat.

  12. sparrland responds:

    Looks like a poor dog to me

  13. semillama responds:

    Although at first glance I thought it was Billy Idol, comparison of the creature’s teeth with the opossum skull dentition removes any doubt to the species.

  14. flame821 responds:

    Actually I have to side with Allenfuchs

    It looks too fake, and unless it is an optical illusion in the photo, it still has eyes. Those are usually the first thing to go, especially as fishies like to nibble at them. I agree the shape of the skull and excessively large canines do resemble an Opossum and perhaps that is what it was based off of.

    But considering the fellow who forwarded the photos described stink and flies and I see no flies on this at all, not even in the oral cavity, I have to question whether this creature was ever alive to begin with. Either that or we’re not getting accurate reports from the 19 year old in question. Although it doesn’t look fantastical enough to be the work of Cabana or someone trying to mimic him. His artwork is notable for being otherworldy yet still being within the realm of possible.

  15. Sordes responds:

    The creature in question is clearly a dead opossum. If you look at the whole body, you see a small to medium sized dead mammal, with very short legs, and a a proportionally big and elongated head. It´s clearly not a pig (it has claws and no hooves) of course, and it´s overall shape perfectly fits those of an opossum. If you look at the head, you can see some remaining white or greyish fur, which is also like those of an opossum, and there are even some extremely long whiskers still visible on the snout, which would be also typical for an opossum (and too long for a dog). This details are only indications, theoretically it could be also another animal, if we wouldn’t see more details.

    But the very best thing we can see on the photo are the teeth.

    We see incisors, quite big upper canines, premolars and molars. There are four incisors in the lower jaw on each side, a trait which is typical for mammals with a quite “primitive” dentition, like those of an opossum. In contrast, dogs have only three incisors on each side of the jaw.

    Furthermore, the premolars of dogs and opossums look quite different (if you take a close look at them. Opossum have typical vertical ridges on their molars. Opossums have four molar ans three premolars on each side of the jaw, which are all of comparably similar size, but dogs have two molars and four premolars, from which the fourth one is highly enlarged. This clearly shows the animal in question is by no means a dog at all.

    Take a look at the dentition of an opossum and compare it with those of the carcass:

    Now look at those of a dog:

    So the animal has the shape and size of an opossum, it has the dentition of an opossum (and clearly not those of a dog!), so why is it so hard to imagine, that is is just a dead opossum, especially if you keep in mind that opossum are living in this area anyway?

    The lack of hair and the unusual surface of the skin is quite easy to explain, and there is no need to mystifiy it, or to think it is a fake. It´s obvious this carcass was floating in the see for some time, and it is a quite common phenomen, that fur becomes lost during decomposition in water. If such a nearly hairless carcass floats to the beach, and dries, the already hairless and somewhat bloated and waxy skin dries, and can look quite plastic-like, similar to anatomical models made from real tissue.

    Somebody has commented the presence of eyes. Well, it´s really that eyes are sometimes among the first things which are eaten by scavengers, but not always. Eyes are actually quite though and durable, and even if you try to pierce an eye with a very sharp knife, this can be quite hard.

  16. adz4000 responds:

    Sounds like its an opossum.I found a dead dog on the beach once that looked similar, when animal carcasses are floating around in the sea they lose all their fur.

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