What Is It?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 28th, 2006

What is it?

Strange Thing

This was published on November 14, 2006, in Victoria, Australia’s South Gippsland Sentinel Times.

This thing was caught off the extreme southern coast of Australia. South Gippsland is a fertile agricultural area renowned for its prime cattle and dairy produce as well as a commercial fishing industry. Wonthaggi is located 132 kms southeast of Melbourne via the South Gippsland and Bass Highways, in the Bass Coast Shire of Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. The town, known originally for its coal mining, is now the regional service center for tourism, beef and dairy industries, with a population of approximately 6,000.

Thanks to Dean Harrison for sharing this with Cryptomundo.

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.

34 Responses to “What Is It?”

  1. mjmurphy responds:

    looks a bit like those beasties in Stephen Jay Gould’s Book Wonderful Life”. For example.

    Of course, it can’t really be that.

  2. hagz responds:

    I love it; they find some new species every other week.

  3. jayman responds:

    Maybe it should be “What Was It”… it looks like the decayed remains of something to me.

  4. fuzzy responds:

    WOW, what a great reference, mjmurphy!

    If the “Land Down Under” can support the likes of thylacine, kangaroo and platypus, perhaps the “Ocean Down Under” can still contain Anomalocaris!

  5. oldbutnotstupid responds:

    Fuzzy we are thinking in the same time frame but my thoughts went toward Opabinia. If this is real trilobites and anomalocaris may be possible as well what a beautiful thought. This would make a Coelacanth look like a modern gold fish

  6. rifleman responds:

    after googling both, opabinia has my vote.

  7. jstar responds:

    Opabinia only grew to about 3 inches, plus an inch for the proboscis. This would be a bit big.

  8. Riptor responds:

    I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say that to me it looks like the decayed remains of an Opabinia.

    I don’t think it really looks like an Anomalocaris, but maybe if it’s very decayed, it’s possible.

  9. BigfootBeliever71 responds:

    Is what the fisherman holding in his hand a lure or part of this thing? Not only that, the bottom half is cut off, so we can’t see all of it.

    Nonetheless, it is quite interesting.

  10. andy_howey responds:

    It looks like a frayed piece of celp snagged on a fish hook to me.

  11. starthinker responds:

    Google Sea Pen.

  12. MattBille responds:

    The structure does not seem to make sense as an animal. What looks like a head seems way out of proportion to the actual body (that is, the body mass without the legs or whatever those side extensions are). It looks, at first glance, like either a lure or a small fish (whichever it is the guy is holding) is snagged on some kind of odd-looking seaweed, and the guy thought the whole assemblage would make a fun picture. I’m far from certain, though.

  13. daledrinnon responds:

    I think it’s a sea pen or Pennatulid, for which compare Ivan Sanderson’s drawing in Investigating the Unexplained, figure 39 on page 263 (the photograph being plate XXIII). The photo in the plate is evidently dried and shrivelled compared to this one.

  14. Loren Coleman responds:

    Yes, exactly, starthinker & Dale, I thought it looked familiar!

    See here.

  15. Tobar responds:

    It looks like a giant Artemia Nyos aka a giant Sea-Monkey!

  16. mjmurphy responds:

    Actually, it does look like a sea pen. Mind you, there were apparently some of those found in the Burgess Shale as well. See here for example. The bulby thing would presumably anchor it to the sea-bottom.

  17. Ceroill responds:

    Fascinating, whatever it is. At this time I am agreeing it is most likely a Sea Pen.

  18. RockerEm responds:

    Very interesting Loren! I must say personally I do believe that these creatures do exist just from the witnesses alone. So many have come forward, all with a similar story and description. 😉 >Emily

  19. kittenz responds:

    It doesn’t really look much like an animal or the remains of an animal… are we sure it’s even organic? They call it a strange “thing” but do they know for sure that it is part of an animal? Could it be some kind of seed pod or other vegetation, or even some kind of plastic trash? It does sort of look like cartilage of some kind but it’s hard to judge because of the low picture quality.

  20. cor2879 responds:

    Thanks Loren for posting the sea pen picture. After seeing that I am forced to agree that the thing in the picture does appear to be a sea pen. Of course it would be much easier to identify if we could somehow get hold of a hi-res color photo of the thing.

  21. plesiosaurus responds:

    Thanks contributors – I think we’ve resolved the issue in favour of Sea Pen.

    I was the one who cut the article out of the local paper and sent it to Dean for scanning and posting on this board.

    I’ll now be able to pass on the details to the paper and hopefully the original finder.

    As to whether it’s a new species or has already been described, I’ll have to leave that to the invertebrate zoologists.

  22. joppa responds:

    Sea pen maybe, any other photos of this critter ? Looks plant-like to me. Of course many sea beasties are phasmids.

  23. acquiredsource responds:

    I’m on the Sea Pen boat as well.

    So to speak.

  24. kittenz responds:

    Maybe Sea Pen. I would like to see more pictures of it especially closeups from different angles and sections, for comparison.

  25. youcantryreachingme responds:

    Nice find. Certainly something unusual. The Opabinia suggestion, above, was interesting too – although not the best match.

    Would love to see the colour photo if anyone can source it!


  26. john5 responds:

    Sure does look like some species of Sea Pen. Apparently these soft corals show up as fossils in Cambrian Shale as well. Could this catch be a one of the Sea Pens found during the Cambrian era?

    Here are 2 examples of contemporary Sea Pens from Wikipedia:

    Example 1

    Example 2

    These soft corals plug into the ocean sediment and filter feed the water currents. They can unplug from the bottom and move to better feeding grounds.

    Here is a notion that dawned on me as I was looking at the pictures. Please be forewarned as it is a bit of a tangent:

    Given that corals are a collection of individual polyps, does a capability of sea pens to unplug from the seabed and move about in the water show us a group of animals making a decision agreed upon by at least a majority of the individual polyps within each Sea Pen? Maybe this is an example of a level of collective consciousness not usually attributed to these ‘lower forms’ or ‘structurally simple’ forms of life!

    No doubt that some form of chemical stimuli are involved in the animals relocation process. Whenever we are hungry it is a chemical stimuli that initiates the process. However our conscious mind is involved when we decide when and where to seek food and how to seek it.

    To test for this ability in Sea Pens would be very difficult indeed. It is far easier to measure chemicals for stimuli than to measure thought. Especially in polyps!

    It really is astonishing to learn that these animals have been around our seas for so long. We can really take a lesson from them in just how successful a group can be when they all get along!

  27. raisinsofwrath responds:

    It looks like a type of Pennatulacea to me also.

  28. raisinsofwrath responds:

    To add an Opabinia does not have a bulb such as prominently displayed in the picture.

  29. seethingcauldron responds:

    Does anyone know any more information? What depth was he fishing at?

  30. MNSRaptor responds:

    It’s definitely a sea-pen (pennatura phosphorea), normally found in cold water areas down to 100m depth. Name of warm water species: sibulan negros.

    Kind of coral, probably imported by sticking under a boat in minor form (polyp).


  31. CryptoGoji responds:

    My vote goes for a Sea Pen. The shapes look too much alike for it to be anything else.

  32. oldbutnotstupid responds:

    Size cannot be used to judge creatures known only from the fossil record. Trilobites were once thought to be only tiny, but there are examples found recently that are bigger than a house cat. Anomalocaris was also a small Burgess shale creature until some ranging up to 6 feet have been found in China and the USA.

  33. oldbutnotstupid responds:

    I think we can call this one solved SEA Pen it is no doubt nice work people

  34. MrInspector responds:

    Photos? Ummm, it occurs to me that this is in hand, at least at the time of the photograph. What happened to it?

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