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Mystery Giant Turtle Photos!

Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 15th, 2007

Details are sketchy on these photographs of what is being labeld a Mystery Giant Marine Turtle (or is it a decomposing whale), thusfar, other than they are a record of a body from a recent Pacific Ocean beaching. Look for updates, but, for now, I wanted to rush these photos here, for your attention.

Giant Sea Turtle

Giant Sea Turtle

Giant Sea Turtle

Giant Sea Turtle

Loren Coleman – has written 5491 posts on this site.
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.


64 Responses to “Mystery Giant Turtle Photos!”

  1. UKCryptid responds:

    My word, if that’s real, crikey…

  2. dogu4 responds:

    Turtle? Really? Not a whale? The pleats n blubber? I can hardly wait. Thanks for bringin’ it to our attention.

  3. Bob Michaels responds:

    I just knew a Giant Species was out there, Kindly give us more details when available.

  4. SaruOtoko responds:

    It’s GAMERA!!!!!!!!!

  5. Gary the Cat responds:

    Sorry folks-that is the rotting underbelly of a whale-I would say probably a Humpback given the shape of the fins.

    Can’t see anything that looks like a shell on it.

  6. DavidFredSneakers responds:

    It’s a rotting something.

    I still hope the subject of these photos turns out to be something new though.

  7. dws responds:

    HOLY SHI-BANG-BANG!!!

    That thing’s HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE!!!!

  8. Excelsior Comics responds:

    I wish the skull was visable so that we could be certain it was a turtle and not a whale. As far as it “not having a shell” I would point out that many soft shelled turtles do not look like a traditional turtle. If it does turn out to be a sea turtle it would be amazing.

    Not to sound all “conspiracy theory” but, would we be at all surprised if it was a turtle and we didn’t hear about it?

  9. Mnynames responds:

    Come on everybody, sing with me-

    “Gamera is really neat, Gamera is full of meat, we believe in Ga-me-ra!!”

    Well, it’s certainly full of meat…nice bite marks on the fins, the sharks have certainly been having their fun. Aside from that first pic, which looks vaguely like the gaping maw of a snapper turtle (And I suspect is really the back side of the animal in question, I don’t see much to suggest a chelonian here. My bet, given the size, fin shape, and pleats, would be whale.

    At least we know this one’s not some Youtube hoax, for a change…

  10. shovethenos responds:

    Turtle shells are bone-like. (I believe even “soft shelled” turtle shells are bone-like as well, they are just covered with skin.) If it was a turtle the shell would be more intact and uniform. The dark material on the carcass above is cracking and decaying, so it is unlikely to be a turtle. It looks like whale skin and blubber to me. My guess: Some kind of whale carcass.

  11. Bob Michaels responds:

    Ha, Ha, Dr Watson this could represent an Extant specimen of the Giant Archelon Ischyros, believed to be the largest sea turtle that ever roamed the earth. The marine reptile belonged to the order Chelonia and the family Protostegidea and could be a relative of the modern day Leatherback Sea Turtle.

    Archelon reached lengths of nine to 13 ft. a Giant Archelon skelton has been on dispay at the Peabody museum since 1907. I’ve been there.

  12. Gihdora responds:

    donde esta?

  13. DARHOP responds:

    HMMMMMMMMMMMMMM?

  14. elsanto responds:

    The last photo gives it away. Make no mistake, that is a humpback flipper, as Gary the Cat correctly surmised. NEXT!

    Just my two cents.

  15. Richard888 responds:

    To all of you beached-whale theorists:

    Do beached whales have an armor like structure like the one we see in pictures 3 and 4?

    Thank you.

  16. mike3k responds:

    It’s Gamera!

  17. interocitor responds:

    “Do beached whales have an armor like structure like the one we see in pictures 3 and 4?”

    What kind of “armor like structure” floats atop blubber? What kind of armor oozes and puddles at the sides of a carcass? Oh, that’s right — skin thats dessicating and separating into chunks because of bloated tissue and fat underneath it. THAT kind of “armor”.

    Whale.

  18. TheGoodReverend responds:

    Pretty sure that armor-like structure is a reddened, blackened, cracked, crusty sunburn. That’s why you have to protect beached whales from the sun.

  19. claudeballs responds:

    Quite clearly this is a crocoduck. Someone alert Kirk Cameron, stat.

  20. Richard888 responds:

    TheGoodReverend:

    The bottom of Picture 3 (near the timestamp) and the left upper corner of 4 show what looks like a segmented spherical shell. It is protected from the sun by the massive flesh overflowing on top. To me it looks like some kind of armour.

  21. jodzilla responds:

    This looks like a dead whale on it’s back to me, but the “head” has a very odd shape, but then again I haven’t seen too many whale skulls. Also, what is the object it appears to laying on? How can those people stand next to all that decay without losing their lunch?

  22. joeyjoseph responds:

    While the head shape is a bit strange (not shocking considering it’s beached, burned, and decaying) I think the tapered sort of triangular shape looks pretty whale scullish to me.

  23. mellowknees responds:

    The “head” in the first photo looks very turtle-ish…but I’m wondering if it isn’t actually a whale with most of the head missing…therefore we’re looking down the neck, which is splayed in such a fashion that it appears to be a snapping turtle or sea turtle.

    Whatever it is, it’ll be interesting to find out. It’s not clearly identifiable and has piqued my interest!

  24. mellowknees responds:

    I’m wondering if it’s not a whale carcass with most of the head missing – like the neck opening is splayed in such a fashion that it looks turtle-ish?

    The fins definitely could be whale fins that have been chewed on, rather than turtle fins.

    Whatever it is, I want to know!!

  25. kamoeba responds:

    Here’s a link to a site that has photos and video of a fresher humpback whale corpse run aground.

  26. cire responds:

    You guys are missing it when its right there in front of your face! Its an upside down giant turtle! Look at the shell underneath it, just imagine the beast turned upside down and then you will see.

  27. tomdee27 responds:

    The top is definitely not a shell. Notice in picture three, the fin is attached to the top. Since we know the fin would not be attached to the shell, then we have to assume, if a turtle, it must be in an upside down position. If that’s the case, there is way too much meat on the top side of the carcass. Look at photo two, the meat is just oozing away from the body.

    Whale carcass, pure and simple. IMHO.

  28. dogu4 responds:

    I can’t recall where I first read about the history of photography and pictures of dead whales but it couldn’t have been more than a few minutes between the invention of the camera and the creation of a photo of a guy standing on or next to a dead whale.

    Maybe the only thing that will bring this genre of photographic art to an end will be the invention of images that transmit the smell.

  29. Bob Michaels responds:

    99% of Whale Carcasses disappear into the bottomless abyss where they are turned into detrius by elongated lamprey type eels and various other deep sea denizens. What you need is a DNA analysis of this specimen to determine the facts

  30. joppa responds:

    Thar she blows! The great decomposing whale.

  31. Maine Crypto responds:

    Upside down Humpback whale!! Look at the fins. The “top” is it’s belly.

  32. Wrightbrain responds:

    Whale.

    Now, let’s get onto the next misidentified photo.

  33. h4ckintosh responds:

    The size/proportion as well as the ridges on the top in the second and third images are just like that of the bottom of a humpback whale. Looks just like this. Just my 2 cebts.

  34. itzalienziseenum responds:

    It is clearly a humpback. Look at this photo to see what I mean. Come on… if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck it probably isn’t the loch ness monster.

    “What you need is a DNA analysis of this specimen to determine the facts”… Oh puhleez!!

  35. leerie responds:

    Would I be an absolutely horrible person if I said it rather looked to me like an elaborate sand sculpture?

  36. Taro 3Yen.com responds:

    …a record of a body from a recent Pacific Ocean beaching…

    Since when does Africa have beaches on the Pacific Ocean?!

    The Africans shown in the photo could be on an Atlantic or Indian Ocean beach but the Pacific does not touch the African continent.

  37. cenoxo responds:

    Rotting whale, bloating in the sun. There’s more examples of beached whale carcasses at The Exploding Whale.com.

    Nature photographer Leo Kulinski, Jr. has many nice photos of Humpback Whales, including their pectoral fins and grooved, expandable throat pouch.

    Humpback whales range throughout all the world’s oceans.

  38. MattBille responds:

    The burned nature of the skin makes me wonder if it’s what whalers call a “cooked” or “blasted” whale, where the whale is killed and the latent heat of the huge muscles actually cooks it unless the belly is cut open quickly to let the seawater in. It does look like a humpback and not a minke, the only Pacific species “legally” hunted, but Japanese “scientific” whalers have been notoriously inaccurate about species.

  39. jodzilla responds:

    Hey! Look! There is a flying saucer in the upper left-hand corner of the third image!

  40. skeptik responds:

    This confusion corresponds to the “bloated cow” incidents in ufology.

    The “characteristics” are simply the natural process of decomposition, which are very well documented, but can lead a seeking mind to false conclusions regarding identification.

    Just ask yourself: How many decomposing whales have I seen vs. How many turtles have I seen?

    We look for what we know.

  41. Captain Avatar responds:

    Whale, decomposing.

  42. sasquatch responds:

    Yes, the underside of a humpback whale has that creased look we see on the “top” of this critter. The third picture does look look like there is a harder rounded area underneath, but I think this just corresponds to the seam line between the top and bottom of the whale, also the fin looks like a humpback fin. Conclusion: Humpback whale.

    Look up the Humpback whale and you can see pictures of them jumping out of the water on their back and it’s honestly a match.

  43. mystery_man responds:

    I am of the impression that this is a whale. What I find really interesting is that the choices for what it could be are “whale” and “giant turtle”. Not a sea monster or plesiosaur, but a turtle. Obviously there is some reason for people over there to think this is a possible turtle carcass, but I can’t tell what those reasons might be. That fin looks decidedly like a whale fin and the corpse itself seems like a failrly typical whale carcass to me.

  44. sciencebzzt responds:

    What is more likely, this mystery blob of nondescript goo is:

    A giant turtle the likes of which no one has ever seen or heard about, and of which there is no evidence anywhere in the world, in other words, a totally unique creature that has only ever been imagined.
    Or it’s a washed up dead whale, which happens all the time?

    The pictures are tiny, and there is nothing in them to suggest anything unusual.

    Why, WHY would anyone think its a giant turtle? You may as well suggest it’s a unicorn or a giant bloated mermaid.

    Logic, reasoning, critical thinking, scientific method. Come on people.

    Why do people so desperately want to believe in bizarre things?

  45. Fred Facker responds:

    I’m throwing my vote to the whale party.

    The shape looks like a saggy, rotting whale to me. The flipper definitely looks whale to me. The coloration is probably due to the top of it being exposed to the sun and the elements causing the skin to burn, flake and peel whereas the lower half was submerged and turned white in the water as dead things tend to do.

  46. Mnynames responds:

    You know how these things go, Mystery Man, those “people over there” could well think they have a dead whale, but some well-meaning websurfer who doesn’t know a bloated whale from his backside saw the pics and screamed “giant turtle!”, then E-Mailed it as far and as wide as he could, thinking he’s made the find of the century. Some of those E-Mails reach other zoologically illiterate people who echo the cry, and before too long Loren discovers that there’s a whole bunch of people going on about some giant turtle carcass, so he posts it here for us to dissect (pun intended).

  47. serf77 responds:

    Whale

  48. Ayala responds:

    When I first saw it, I thought “Humpback whale carcass” – from the very first picture. The fin in the last picture confirmed it for me.

    It looks exactly like the whales in the fourth Star Trek movie. ;)

    Who knew there was a website called The Exploding Whale? Unbelievable. :)

  49. sschaper responds:

    It does look to be a far-gone beached whale.

    Wish it -were- fastitocalon, though. pity. No reason I can think of why the giant sea turtles could not still exist.

  50. Loren Coleman responds:

    Update:

    These photos are now being said to be from “Guinea,” an allusion to Africa, one must assume.

    I have been invited onto the radio program Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, for the first hour for the evening of May 16 (Pacific time) or early May 17 (my time, on the East Coast).

  51. Robsquatch responds:

    All I know is the smell must be horrendous! I can’t even imagine how bad it must be.

  52. Robsquatch responds:

    Oh yeah I forgot to mention. My Dad and I seen a Sea Turtle that same size back in 1989 about 10 miles off the coast of Washington State. We were headed back into port after deep sea bass fishing and this huge thing ahead of our charter boat was slowly bobbing up and down moving towards the shore. Everyone was yelling “Whale! Whale!” Then when the captain came along side the creature everyone was shocked to see it was a gigantic Sea Turtle! I could not believe my eyes, it was every bit as big as the charter boat we were on. I kid you not, this thing looked like a damn dinosaur in the water. This happened right outside the town of Westport Washington.

  53. phillipswcs responds:

    I can’t believe that such a distinguished group of scientists as yourselves could possibly be so blinded by your own preconceived prejudices as to completely lose your scientific objectivity in this matter!

    If you closely examine the burning, cracking and peeling of the outer layer, it should be obvious to everyone that it has been caused by the burning death ray that Godzilla always used when he fought Gamera, the giant flying turtle!

    Curse you Godzilla!

  54. dogu4 responds:

    Hey Robsquatch…any chance that someone on-board brought a camera and took a picture? I’d love to hear more…I’m trying to imagine what sort of indications were there that you were seeing a giant turtle and not just the back of a whale or who knows what…a steller sea cow.

  55. Robsquatch responds:

    You know, darn-it. I wish we had a camera too. It was unbelievable! It’s possible the captain took a picture. I can’t remember if I seen anyone on board take one. We were on a Charter Boat through my Dad’s Company on their annual fishing trip. I was a Sophomore in Highschool at the time.

    What indications were there was the Captain pulled along side it about 15 feet away, and you could see this Giant Sea Turtle head come up and down open its beaked mouth and gasp for air. I remember the color of its face clearly. The top of its head was a blueish/green, and the sides and bottom of its face was yellow. It had the classical big black baby cute eyes of a Sea Turtle. You could see all 4 flippers paddling hard towards shore, and the shell was as wide and as long as the Charter Boat itself. The head was as big as a Hippo’s head.

    Everyone, I mean EVERYONE was just shocked at what we were seeing. I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

  56. Tami Linn responds:

    Years ago I lived in Puerto Penasc, Mexico which is located on the Sea of Cortez. I’ve seen many beached whales (decomposing) and that is exactly what this looks like. Any marine biologists called in to look at this thing. I’m SURE this is a whale.

  57. eXghost responds:

    it looks a fried whale

    crispy! lol

    but it looks creepy nyaaaaaaaaaa!

  58. eXghost responds:

    so creepy! O.o

  59. barharborbigfoot responds:

    Maine Crypto is right! I study whales for a living. This is 100%, without any doubt, and absolutely a decomposing humpback whale. The longitudinal lines running down the carcass in the first picture are the ventral grooves or pleates on the throat of the humpback. The humpback has on average 28 and this allows them to balloon their throat out when feeding, as they are a species that gulp huge mouthfuls of small fish and krill when feeding, then strain the small prey from the water using their ballen. The last picture shows a perfect humpback flipper – with a humpy/bumpy apperance or sometimes described as knobby. The flippers are shaped this way as it hydrodynamically reduces drag better than, for example, the straight edge of a plane’s wing. The average length of the humpback whale’s pectoral flippers is 9 to 13 feet, the record length is 16 feet for each flipper. It is not uncommon for a dead humpback to have it’s head hang down in the water column while its bloated belly remains above water. Therefore making the head more available to sharks. At death whales often sink to the bottom, but as their bodies decompose their stomach will fill with gas and carry the whale to the surface like a hot air balloon. It is during this time that they may float hundreds of miles and come ashore. This is not by any stretch of the imagination a turtle. This is a humpback whale. Case closed.

  60. sth360 responds:

    I’m a little late on this, but better late than never. ROBSQUATCH, I find it difficult to believe that guys on a corporate fishing trip didn’t bring cameras. Think the sea got to you. As for these photos, from the fin alone it’s obviously the remains of a Humpback whale. People have some common sense and try to ground in reality.

  61. Cpl Punishment responds:

    Someone posting here speculated that there could be unknown giant turtles living in the seas. I very much doubt it, and here’s why: All turtles lay their eggs on land, including the giant leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), which at over a ton is the largest known turtle in the world. If there were any true giant turtles left in the sea such as an Archelon descendant it would have seen by now crawling up a very wide beach to lay its eggs.

  62. Mnynames responds:

    And yet, let us not forget that there have indeed been reports of very large turtles spotted at sea. Could they perhaps be exceptionally large (And therefore likely old) representatives of known species, perhaps having grown so large that they are now unable to crawl ashore? Or perhaps only the males attain huge sizes, and the females have thus far gone unnoticed, mistaken for known species?

    As much as I’d love to believe that such behemoths are still out there, I have my doubts too, largely for the simple fact that every known species of sea turtle is endangered (Except the Loggerhead, which is considered threatened). The most critically endangered of them appears to be the largest, the Leatherback, for the simple reason that such a large animal needs a large amount of food. When an ecosystem is disrupted, food supplies become unreliable or limited, and time and again the first to fall are either those organisms that have specialized in one food source (Say, Red Knots feeding off of Horseshoe Crab eggs in the Delaware Bay, which probably have less than 5 years before they become extinct because of the Horseshoe Crab harvest) or those that require the most food (Like said Leatherbacks). The Leatherbacks saving grace seems to be their natural wanderlust, moving from Atlantic to Pacific in search of whatever it can find. Can you imagine the food requirements for a 40-foot-long sea turtle, such as the one sighted off of Newfoundland in 1883?

    Here’s the sighting, as reported by Scientific American, 48:292,1883.

    “Captain Augustus G. Hall and the crew of the schooner Annie L. Hall vouch for the following:

    On March 30, while on the Grand Bank, in latitude 40 10′, longitude 33, they discovered an immense live trunk turtle, which was at first thought to be a vessel bottom up. The schooner passed within twenty-five feet of the monster, and those on board had ample opportunity to estimate its dimensions by a comparison with the length of the schooner. The turtle was at least 40 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 30 feet from the apex of the back to the bottom of the under shell. The flippers were 20 feet long. It was not deemed advisable to attempt its capture. ”

    So, like I said, sightings have occurred (Some more recent, too), but as much as I’d love to see one, the food requirements of such a beast suggest that if any did exist, they are either extinct, or those of existing species are no longer able to attain such a size. I would very much like to be proven wrong, though.

  63. Fang responds:

    looks to me like a giant slug or a whale

    if they found an eye somewhere i would believe ‘giant turtle’ but until then not gonna happen

    (p.s. I wasnt serious about giant slug)

  64. bezoris responds:

    It actually does look very much like a Giant Soft-Shelled turtle, also known as Cantor’s giant turtle. They are known for having dark blubbery skin (no shell), fin-like “flippers” and a tan underbelly, much like what is seen above. Native to Vietnam and Thailand, the last confirmed sighting was in Cambodia in 2003.

    That being said, Cantor’s turtles are thought to grow to a maximum of about 6 feet in length, the thing above is giant.

    Read more here.



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