A Look Back at the 1962 Pensacola Florida Sea Serpent Incident

Posted by: Scott Mardis on February 20th, 2014


The May 1965 issue of FATE magazine featured the story “My Escape from a Sea Monster”, written by one Edward Brian McCleary. This was his supposedly true eyewitness account of himself and 4 friends being attacked by a “sea monster” of some sort off the coast of Pensacola, Florida on March 24, 1962. His four friends were allegedly either killed by this thing or drowned, McCleary being the only survivor. Previous Cryptomundo posts about this incident are to be found here: Death by Sea Serpent? and here: What’s Eating You? Florida’s Hungry Sea Serpent Revisited. McCleary and his friends were supposedly attempting to dive on the wreck of a ship called the U.S.S. Massachusetts and became lost in a fog when this “monster” attacked them. I suggest you read those before proceeding further.

Part 1
Part 3

Wandering Hooded seals are thought to probably come into the Gulf of Mexico occasionally (see map below, from Bulletin of Marine Science, Vol. 68, Issue 1, pg. 51, 2001).


Hooded seals can get 8 feet long and have a somewhat longish neck, which could be extended further out in the manner of many other seal species. I have been unable to find any accounts of attacks on humans by the hooded seal.

The animal described by McCleary and depicted is his drawing made for Tim Dinsdale looks very much like many other depictions and descriptions of the hypothetical “long necked sea serpent”. Many researchers who suspect such an animal may really exist think it may be either some kind of relict plesiosaur or an unknown species of giant long necked pinniped. There are a surprising number of report of such animals in the Gulf of Mexico and the southern Atlantic coastal plain of the US.


Naturalist Thomas Helm allegedly encountered a long necked sea monster of some sort off Fort Walton Beach, Florida (near Pensacola) in 1943, but Helm’s creature was described as distinctly more mammalian than McCleary’s reptilian beast.

The following appeared in one of Kent Hovind’s lectures:


At a dune lake called Lake Powell at Destin, FL (between Fort Walton and Panama City), there is a long history of long necked monster reports, though none more recent than 1959 (see Roadside Geology of Florida, Bryan et al. 2008, pg. 121-122). Presumably, these things had easy access to the sea.


In the St. John’s River which begins near Jacksonville, FL, there is a long history of monster reports. Though some have assumed the creatures in the St. John’s River are large salamanders, it would appear more likely that they are typical “long necks”.

There are other vague monster reports from various regions of Florida, but it is not clear that that these other reports are not midentifications of common large aquatic animals such as manatees and alligators. The Altamaha River in Georgia is alleged to be the home of the creatures referred to as Altamahaha (as depicted above in the statue built by Rick Spears).

Come back tomorrow for the next installment of this historical lookback.

Scott Mardis About Scott Mardis
Scott Mardis has been an active field investigator of the Lake Champlain “Monster” since 1992. He is a former sustaining member of the defunct International Society of Cryptozoology and a former volunteer worker in the Vertebrate Paleontology Dept. of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences (1990-1992). He co-authored a scientific abstract about the Lake Champlain hydrophone sounds for the Acoustical Society of America in 2010. He currently lives in Bradenton, Florida.

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