On This Date: The Most Puzzling Sea Serpent of All

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on December 7th, 2016

Are there large and strange unclassified animals roaming the oceans of the world? The best eyewitness evidence of this possibility came 111 years ago today from two British men of science, Michael J. Nicoll and E.G.B. Meade-Waldo. In 1905, these witnesses observed a “sea monster” which has never been explained.

The men were both experienced naturalists, Fellows of the Zoological Society of London. Their account of “a creature of most extraordinary form and proportions” is recorded in the Society’s Proceedings and Nicoll’s 1908 book Three Voyages of A Naturalist.

On December 7, 1905, at 10:15 AM, Nicoll and Meade-Waldo were on a research cruise aboard the yacht Valhalla. They were fifteen miles east of the mouth of Brazil’s Parahiba River when Nicoll turned to his companion and asked, “Is that the fin of a great fish?”

The fin was cruising past them about a hundred yards away. Meade-Waldo described it as “dark seaweed-brown, somewhat crinkled at the edge.” The visible part was roughly rectangular, about six feet long and two feet high.

As Meade-Waldo watched through “powerful” binoculars, a head on a long neck rose in front of the frill. He described the neck as “about the thickness of a slight man’s body, and from seven to eight feet was out of the water; head and neck were all about the same thickness … The head had a very turtle-like appearance, as also the eye. It moved its head and neck from side to side in a peculiar manner: the color of the head and neck was dark brown above, and whitish below – almost white, I think.”

Nicoll noted, “Below the water we could indistinctly see a very large brownish-black patch, but could not make out the shape of the creature.” They kept the creature in sight for several minutes before the Valhalla drew away from the beast. The yacht was traveling under sail and could not come about. At 2:00 AM on December 8th, however, three crewmembers saw what appeared to be the same animal, almost entirely submerged.

In a letter to author Rupert T. Gould, author of The Case for the Sea Serpent, Meade-Waldo remarked, “I shall never forget poor Nicoll’s face of amazement when we looked at each other after we had passed out of sight of it … ” Nicoll marveled, “This creature was an example, I consider, of what has been so often reported, for want of a better name, as the ‘great sea-serpent.’”

What did these gentlemen see? Meade-Waldo offered no theory. Nicoll, while admitting it is “impossible to be certain,” suggested they had seen an unknown species of mammal, adding, “…the general appearance of the creature, especially the soft, almost rubber-like fin, gave one this impression.” The witnesses did not notice any diagnostic features such as hair, pectoral fins, gills, or nostrils.

The original eyewitness drawing by Nicoll (out of copyright)

Read the rest of the article on Matt Bille’s website.

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

2 Responses to “On This Date: The Most Puzzling Sea Serpent of All”

  1. springheeledjack responds:

    That report has always mystified me. I can’t figure out what the square shaped thing was trailing along behind. A frill or fin of some sort? Who knows. However, it’s the little details like the lighter underbelly that gives credence to the report itself.

    Yes the report was over a century ago, but I don’t discount those accounts just because people weren’t as “learned” as we supposedly are today. As the article said, they were both experienced naturalists—that means they knew a floating log from a living creature. No, they saw something living and it was outside the scope of “normal” creatures.

    Many of the sea serpent/monster encounters back in the 1800’s and early 1900’s were reported by respectable people. I defy the idea of “drunken sailor stories and hallucinations” theory altogether. To hear people tell it, everyone on a ship was an alcoholic which certainly could not have been the case or ships would never get where they were going. Sorry, I digress, but it’s a pet peeve of mine.

    No, those two men saw something strange on the seas and it was a critter of some sort—unfortunately, until I get my time machine working, we’re likely not going to figure out what exactly it was.

  2. mandors responds:

    I was wondering why in 1905 a river ship wasn’t under steam power and simply come about. After a little research (very little), I found out.


    While it had steam power, it was still mainly a sailing vessel. Seems the Valhalla was rather famous too.


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