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SF Sea Serpent Video

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 28th, 2007

Clark Brothers SF Bay Sea Serpent

This illustration (above) from the early 1800s’ sighting of a Sea Serpent off the coast of New England is compared with a video capture (below) from the Clarks’ 2004 Sea Serpent videotape taken off of California.

Clark Brothers SF Bay Sea Serpent

Sea serpent? Dolphins? Water birds? The Clarks have done a great deal to secure the analysis of their video.

Bob and Bill Clark have received and are now sharing stabilized portions of their San Francisco Bay sea serpent video. (An uplink will be shared here if a format for the internet if available.) Please find here the link to their pdf attachment which contains an analysis of their January 26, 2004 video (which Bruce Champagne has stabilized).

Link to download Clark Brothers SF Bay Sea Serpent

Bill and Bob Clark’s remarkable pursue of this video followed their first sighting of a Sea Serpent in San Francisco Bay in 1985. See page 69 of The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep.

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.


30 Responses to “SF Sea Serpent Video”

  1. SEBigfoot2007 responds:

    I believe they showed this video on Animal X. Personally i find it convincing. It doesn’t look like any known animal.

  2. sschaper responds:

    From the single frame, it looks like a ripple in the water.

  3. mystery_man responds:

    I have not seen the video, but this still is inconclusive. There is nothing to suggest to me that this is anything other than a known phenomena. Is there anyway to be able to see the video?

  4. alanborky responds:

    I don’t know about the rest of their evidence – and I don’t question the sincerity of the Clarks – but ultimately, without further material, skeptics could quite easily dismiss the sea serpent ‘humps’ in the image provided as being simply a row of flotation buoys attached to the surface edge of a deep sea fishing net.

  5. Spoon Nose responds:

    I’ve been reading everything I can on the Clark brothers and their alleged sea serpent. I’m very familiar with the area that they claim to have seen the sea serpent, as well as the wildlife that also pass through the area. I haven’t seen the entire film, just the single frame above.

    Anyway, like I said, I know the wildlife in the area well. I’ve seen humpback whales, harbor seals, sea lions, elephant seals, pacific white sided dolphins in San Francisco Bay. I’ve spent long hours at the shore locations that they claim to have seen the serpent at, staring at the bay (though not looking for a serpent.) I’ve even seen a pod of pacific white-sided dolphins holding in the precise spot where they claim to have seen a sea serpent. I’ve seen humpback whales coming within fifty feet of shore. I don’t think their serpent is a marine mammal. I also don’t think it’s kelp–I’ve never seen kelp inside the bay, even floating as debris.

    However, just looking at that single frame (inherently faulty analysis, I know) I have to say…if someone asked me what it was, I would tell them it was a flight of brown pelicans without a second thought. I’ve seen thousands of pelicans over the years doing this. The V shape is one thing; another is the number of dots or objects, which is about average for a flight of pelicans. The closeness to the water is the pelicans taking advantage of the wing-in-ground effect. Brown pelicans also pass through San Francisco Bay at this time of year.

    I am highly skeptical of the San Francisco Bay sea serpent. I’ve spoken to fishing boat captains who ply the bay on a daily basis, and none of them had ever seen anything unusual. I’ve spent many, many hours watching the bay while fishing and never seen anything. San Francisco Bay is a busy place, with large tankers and container ships visiting the Port of Oakland and the Richmond oil refineries every day. Then count government (Coast Guard), tugboats, sightseeing boats, and personal craft, and there are a lot of people on the water. Oh, and let’s not forget the sightseeing helicopters, seaplanes, and Coast Guard HH-65 Dauphin helicopters that regularly overfly sea serpent territory, especially after 9/11. About 7 million people live within seven miles of the interior shoreline of the bay. My point is that, with so many ships on the water, the bay is a fairly crowded place. And with so many people, many more people should have seen this thing by now. (I did hear of a friend of a friend who allegedly saw one and was researching the matter, but I never did meet the person and for all I know it was one of the Clark brothers.)

    All that having been said, I can’t find anything “too wrong” with the Clark brothers’ data. I know their locations and immediately knew where they had taken the alleged video. Their knowledge of distance vis a vis the serpent, their location, Angel Island, and Alcatraz are all dead on. Their information on the tides is right. There’s nothing sloppy about their paper. I just don’t see it.

    I do wonder, though, why they don’t release their video in its entirety, especially when an old bay hand like myself would immediately recognize their “serpent” as a flight of pelicans. Please guys don’t shoot yourself in the foot and pull a MK.

  6. swnoel responds:

    It also appears to me that we’re looking at a fishing net , the near perfect symmetry of the dots suggest bouys.

    The highly pixelated picture, where nothing is comprehensible, suggests someone is trying to con someone.

    Why would anyone present this as evidence?

    I believe because of the ability to produce very sophysticated believable hoaxes, main stream science avoids involvement with crypto’s.

    Because of that only a specimen will be acceptable evidence.

  7. dogu4 responds:

    I have to agree to what Spoon Nose has to say above, as I too have spent a bit of time on the SF Bay. Additionally, I’ve met one of the Clark brothers while taking’ a walk along the St. Francis Yacht Club’s breakwater a few years back and his belief that what he’s seen is what he says it is isn’t the question. He seems sincere. This video unfortunately just too closely resembles the kind of thing that’s not all that uncommon when viewing distant objects at a low angle over water, especially birds in formation, but even more prosaic objects can take on some pretty surprising shapes, and even move around, or seem to, when viewed like this.

    An observation in defense of the Clark brothers’ observation however is that they are actively looking for evidence that we all might be seeing but ascribe to more pedestrian explanations. I know that they claim to have other sightings of what seems to them to be similar creatures, though I’ve never seen any images of these either, so I remain skeptical about this instance.
    But, it can be tough to get good images from the shoreline or the rail of a tourboat as anyone who’s tried to show their friends the snapshot of a whale from a cruise ship in Alaska can tell.

    One thing I like about the Clark brothers’ continued investigation is that it keeps us looking in what could be an interesting direction. The underwater geography of the Golden Gate is a pathway to the deep systems of the Pacific Ocean, a complex ecosystem with immense tidal flows potentially bringing-up the occasional surprise. The vast wilderness of the ocean is not too far away from Fisherman’s Wharf and it’s major haul-out for california sea-lions.

    Imagine if one of those frilled sharks, or some here-to-fore unrecognized species, similar to the one which Japanese fishermen hauled-in a short while ago were to get carried by the tides onto Little Alcatraz Island, or got lodged under the pilings at Pier 39. Would we even notice?

  8. mjmurphy responds:

    There are more still shots of the alleged beast here.
    I have no opinion.

  9. shovethenos responds:

    Spoon Nose-

    What do you mean by “pull an MK”?

  10. Husker1911 responds:

    I believe I saw this footage a couple times on National Geographic TV channel. If it’s the same footage, the film experts on the program deduced it was a flock of birds. If it’s not the same footage, sorry ’bout that!

  11. Muskie Murawski responds:

    Yes I think about the Nat Geo Channels analysis, but I think the Clarks originally saw a serpent, they seem too obsessed by the pursuit.

  12. ladd responds:

    I did manage to tape that episode on Animal X “Monsters of the Deep.” It didn’t show the entire 3 & 1/2 minutes but it did show enough of “something.” It’s just too indiscernible to make any kind of specific determination. I couldn’t find any place on the net for a download but the Animal X site has that episode for sale for those who want to pursue this further. Also if you’re interested in the Clark Brothers discussions with skeptics on their video footage you may want to check Skeptic Forum. It gets pretty heated at times but it’s worth a look.

  13. Spoon Nose responds:

    Shovethenos-

    I’d refer you to the recent M.K. Davis brouhaha, on this site. Search back a month or so. A cautionary tale in how not to make information public.

    I’d also like to elaborate on my point regarding the possibility of sea serpents in the vicinity of the SF Bay Area. I’m completely open to the possibility. Just not inside the bay. I believe it’s far too noisy and crowded to be inviting to sea serpents. There were a rash of sightings of a sea serpent north of San Francisco in the 1980s. I actually interviewed someone who saw one. He wrote:

    “Well, I’m one of those people that saw this thing off Stinson (just South) in the late eighties. I’ve been an amateur naturalist all my life and part of my career has been studying animals of every variety. What I saw wasn’t any of them. I’m not saying what the heck it was, because I have no idea. I do know it wasn’t an oarfish, which I am familiar with. I watched it for at least ten minutes swimming on the surface. At first I thought it might just be a large piece of kelp I wasn’t familiar with, but when it began moving against the current and wind, I realized it was an animal. I didn’t see the “horse’s head”, but I saw it definitely take a dive out of sight. Never told anyone, could never make any sense out of it myself. Never forgotten. ”

    Also, there is an issue of Outdoor Life magazine floating out there somewhere with a reprint of an article they first ran in the 1960s, a first person account by a woman who saw a decidedly Cadborosaurus-like creature while on a fishing boat out by the Farallones.

  14. marlon responds:

    I was born and raised in the area and have spent many, many, many days on the bay. The video show birds and that’s it, sorry. I have seen this on countless occasions.

  15. JSMOKE responds:

    Having seen that footage before, to me the most baffling aspect is how it moves in the water. Definitely not like any flock of birds I’ve ever seen.

  16. Spoon Nose responds:

    Ah, I knew those guys were at the Saint Francis Yacht Club. All the landmarks lined up. I assume the location where the film was taken was Fort Mason.

    Assuming this thing exists, I would be curious as to whether or not it corresponds to any of the fish migrations. January corresponds to sand dabs and herring entering the bay, but it’s all small fry until Spring.

  17. skeptik responds:

    Was this the one dismissed as seagulls by National Geographic Channel “debunkers”?

  18. dogu4 responds:

    To debunk this video is not all that hard. Really, it’s almost pure speculation as to what it could or couldn’t be since the scene itself is at such a great distance, zoomed-in, lots of “shake” which could be from even a very good cameraman or from a good tripod picking up a vibration from a stiff breeze with a consumer grade VHS camera. Were there a real sea serpent out there it might very well look like a formation of scoters in a wavy line unless you’ve got great conditions and a very sophisticated camera with very expensive glass.

    I mentioned that I’d spent some time on the bay and I should add that I worked on a job out on Alcatraz and so I’m familiar with the kinds of phenomenon one sees from out there when you travel across the bay by ferry to work there day in and day out. The area where the Clark brothers say the creatures were would be just to the West of the Island, beyond where “Little Alcatraz” would sometimes be just breaking above the water at low tide. The currents that surge through the Golden Gate carry immense volumes of water which become deflected by these islands and shoals in its path and you can see currents ripping up the water’s surface as they gyre and whirl all around the island. The birds of course take advantage of this. While on the island I’ve seen racks of kelp washed up on the rocky shore line and rafts of birds out at a distance. It’s hard to be specific as to species unless you actually see ‘em up close or catch ‘em flying in their distinctive ways. Certainly pacific and gray gulls, but also cormorants, and a few other species gather there, and I’m sure I couldn’t identify everything bobbing out there in the slop and chop but nothing ever appeared to do anything that would lead me to think I’d seen anything like the roiling lengths of a big animal, except metaphorically speaking. Shipping, coincidentally, tends to avoid this area for obvious reasons and because it’s not really in a direct line to their main destinations. So even if there were some cryptid out there it’d be tough to see.

    The descriptions that the Clark brothers have from their other encounters, while without photo documentation, I find more fascinating since I allow for the possibility of unusual species showing up. The SF Bay has had an interesting ecological history and while it has a long way to go before it’s once again the incredibly productive ecosystem it was at one time, it has impressive powers to regenerate itself and it has been doing that as industry and it’s by-products become less pronounced. Enlightened environmental policies help, and despite many species being in peril due to loss of habitat in the long term and invasive species in the immediate future, there are salmon returning and wetlands are being re-established. A few years ago I saw what I’m sure was an otter at the mouth of Mission Creek. If nature doesn’t return it won’t be because it hadn’t tried. I hope the Clark brothers, whether they’re keen observers with well honed search criteria, or overly-enthusiastic believers in the fantastic, I’m glad they’re keeping their eyes peeled.

  19. dogu4 responds:

    Oh, when I mentioned the kind of things you could see moving out in the confused currents around Alcatraz I forgot to mention trees, parts of trees and some pretty big branches, presumably washed into the rivers after heavy storms and/or snow melt, and not all that uncommon after flooding. The possibility that these could exhibit the kind of size/profile and behavior that we’d not normally attribute to birds or fish should be considered.

  20. silvereagle responds:

    I know of a boatload of female skullers, who had it surface next to their craft, in S.F. Bay.

  21. springheeledjack responds:

    I have seen the video multiple times, and it could be a variety of things…the grainy footage and distance do make it too hard to pinpoint down what is there…however, all of that does not take away from the phenomenon, and the skeptics cannot prove their ideas either…sorry, but you can’t.

    I don’t buy the arguments that there are fishermen and all sorts of people on the water and no one has ever seen the likes of that before–people miss things all the time–it is a fallacy that people as a whole are observant and aware of their surroundings. I drive to and from work every day and the amount of times that I actually look up in the sky or pay attention to the water in the river as I go over the bridge are minimal…there could be all kinds of things popping up out of said river and I would never see it because I’m concentrating on the road…my point, people are not as observant as we like to think. If they were, the Clarks would not have been the few to have witnessed and filmed what they did (I am guessing someone else might have witnessed it, but either tossed it off, or did not want to publicize it). Besides, according to the Clarks, they have witnessed this “something” before, and a number of times.

    Taken as a whole, I am not sure what is pictured in the video…it is an odd moving, strange business altogether, and I am not saying it couldn’t be “normal” type things, but from what is in the video, you can’t say definitively that it is birds or a net, or another mundane explanation either.

    The area deserves more watching and studying with better gear.

  22. Spoon Nose responds:

    “I drive to and from work every day and the amount of times that I actually look up in the sky or pay attention to the water in the river as I go over the bridge is minimal.”

    Not an appropriate comparison to someone piloting a boat. Look at it this way: if a sea serpent were on the road itself as you drove to work, you’d notice it.

    On one hand, I’ve never seen the video. (Might this be a good time to suggest that the Clark brothers put it up on the web?) On the other hand, you’ve never stood on the shoreline of the St. Francis and Golden Gate Yacht Clubs (not just one small boat harbor, but two) and seen all the boats go by. The closest of these sightings, in which the creature actually struck the rocks near shore, was about one hundred to three hundred feet from several hundred anchored yachts, two fancy yacht club buildings (where someone is always hanging out) and was observed from a parking lot. To leave the yacht club harbors and travel west you would have to pass right through the alleged sea serpent hangout. Can you imagine Bigfoot hanging out around a toll gate of a parking lot and nobody seeing him?

    Let’s put it this way. I’ve been interested in this stuff all my life. I would be thrilled if I could take a five minute drive (the time it would take me to drive to the location from where I’m typing this) to the scenes of the sighting and stake the place out. I would buy the gear. I would spend the time. (I need another hobby.) But I won’t. Because I honestly think, based on my own experience, that there’s nothing there. I’ve already done all the watching I think that place deserves. (Hours and hours of watching the water in the exact spot where I should apparently been looking for a sea serpent, except I was looking for striped bass or a halibut.)

    I wish the Clark brothers the best of luck, but for now, I won’t be joining them.

  23. mystery_man responds:

    Spoon Nose- I agree with you wholeheartedly. I am from the Bay area originally myself and in all the years I lived there, I never heard of any sort of sighting like this. San Fransisco Bay is very heavily traveled and it is highly improbable that any sea creature of this type is inhabiting the Bay without being seen. There is the possibility that, if this is a real creature, it could make forays into the Bay but then my question is why? I do not think the Bay, with it’s noisy boats, tourists, and relatively polluted waters, would be a place that it would want to hang out. I believe the whales and dolphins that have been sighted in the bay probably were there more by accident than anything else. So why would this creature want to go there? I would love to think that there is a cryptid swimming around in the Bay, but my vote is that this is very unlikely.

  24. dogu4 responds:

    While I don’t live in the Bay Area these days, I DO stay closely connected to it news-wise and I find it very interesting that over the last few days there have been a couple of news items relevant to the perceived cryptic nature of presumedly rare phenomenon.

    By now everyone who is connected by radio, tv, internet or newspaper is aware that James Gray of Microsoft has just disappeared from the face of the earth while expertly sailing his 40ft sailboat on a day cruise under nearly perfect condition, through very well known waters, to the Farallon Islands. Speculation as to his whereabouts is wide-open and even the most serious and likely suggestions underscore just how slight slight is the ability of our human pereceptions to be able to actually see what’s going-on around us. The idea that there can’t be something previously unknown on the order of a large animal living out in waters all around us because if it were there we’d have seen it and photographed it…well, that greatly overestimates our powers of observation, not to mention our ability to photograph stuff.

    Another news item currently getting some chatter in the Bay Area is the recent report that as many as several dozen Orcas have migrated from the Pacific Northwest and are currently cruising the coastal areas just outside the Bay. One speculation is that they’ve keyed-in on the up-swing in salmon populations along the northern and central Californian coasts, since it’s believe that these are salmon eating populations of orca (in contrast to the transient populations which are found in association with predation on large marine mammals), though I haven’t read if there’d been any positive ID by cross checking this population’s distinctive dorsal profile and coloration with known populations, nor have I heard if DNA had been collected and whether it had been compared to known population characteristics.

    I don’t know if anyone else has made the connection but there have been verified modern reports of Orca and other whales actually sinking boats of the size reported to be sailed by Mr Gray of Microsoft (an encounter with a wooden boat and a humpback in Alaskan waters years ago, and an trans-pacific class modern sailboat off the coast of South America rammed and sunk by an Orca), though admittedly it’s more likely that Mr Gray has had a catastrophic encounter with another ship or partially submerged log. Interestingly, the SF Chronicle’s article this morning also noted that the last time Orcas were seen INSIDE the bay(reportedly) was in the 50s.

    The Bay and the not-too-distant ocean environment are an interesting piece of geography in both human and geologic/oceanographic senses, and the kinds of stimuli and kinds of scale to which our human senses are evolutionarily geared are simply in-adequate to appreciate what it is we have outside our known space.

    I don’t necessarily have to believe that colonies of briney cryptids inhabit the bay in order to be open and even supporting of ideas that require a big unknown animal or population of animals to pay us a visit from out of the largely unknown watery realm every once in a while and still believe that we could miss it entirely or discover that our pathetic little camera caught only a fuzzy indecipherable blip even though my own eyes and my mind, working in colusion told me it was a sea-serpent, and it is hard to argue with a racing-skull filled with rowers…especially if they were as articulate and enthusiastic as the south-side rowers I’ve known.

  25. shumway10973 responds:

    The pic above looks too blurry to really say anything. It could be buoys tied together with rope. I wish I had faster internet connection so I could see the actual video.

  26. Bob Michaels responds:

    It`s SEA WEED!

  27. bawesq3 responds:

    My husband and I live in the Candlestick Point condos off the 101 and saw the sea serpent twice in the summer of 2007. I saw it first while driving alone. It was undulating in and out of the water and I could clearly see what looked like several humps moving smoothing and hardly disturbing the water. I’ve never witnessed anything like it before and always doubted the Loch Ness monster and Lake Champlain stories. I actually visited Loch Ness in Scotland and took the tour of the lake and didn’t see anything.

    So, I was shocked to see it in our own back yard. Of course when I told my husband, he didn’t believe me until he saw it himself while driving about a week later. The area is rife with birds — pelicans, seagulls, cranes and lots of little birds. It’s a popular area with wind surfers, too. We last saw it in August 2007. My husband saw it eat a pelican sitting in the water and those birds are huge. As I was driving and trying to watch the road, I didn’t see it happen, but immediately after we both witnessed a bunch of pelicans wildly dive-bombing the serpent in the water as if on the attack. I remember it clearly as I almost crashed the car watching all the commotion. It was the most amazing thing I ever saw– these pelicans fighting so hard for something. We haven’t seen the serpent since. Perhaps the pelicans injured it…

    I was surprised to later learn of the twin brothers who’ve been watching and recording this serpent in the San Francisco Bay area near the Golden Gate Bridge for some time. I’m sorry to say that I doubted them when I saw them on television (as I hadn’t seen it myself) but now I’m convinced its the same creature or species. I guess you have to see it to believe it.

    While we haven’t had the fortune to see it since that time, we continue to keep an eye out every time we drive home.

  28. sfseaserpent responds:

    bawesq3, we just read your post of the sightings of a sea serpent you and your husband had in San Francisco Bay in August 2007.

    We found your sighting interesting because we also had a sighting in May, 2006 and were able to take over 3 minutes of video of a juvenile sea serpent attacking and being attacked by a group of seagulls. We have only mentioned this sighting and video to a few people so the fact you mentioned that your husband saw one of the animals eat a pelican and be attacked by several pelicans is interesting to us.

    Also, On February 8, 2009 we had another sighting of one of the animals swimming eastward near the southeastern tip of Angel Island. We were able to take over seven minutes of video of the animal as it swam at the surface.

    Bill and Bob C.

  29. sfseaserpent responds:

    silvereagle, if you have any more details regarding the incident with the women’s rowing team in SF Bay please post that information here. We heard that it was the 1976 Oregon State women’s rowing team which was practicing in the SF Bay and that after one of the animals surfaced right next their boat they were so frightened by it that they refused to practice in SF Bay anymore.

  30. sfseaserpent responds:

    We were contacted today by a woman who informed us that she had a definitive sighting of the SF sea serpent about 1985-86 in SF Bay between SF airport and the city which was around the same time that we had our first sighting. She said, “it was BIG — its coils looped up out of the water and its head was out too in a very vivid profile view”.



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