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Mystery Photos: Sea Serpent or Plesiosaur? Name That Carcass!

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on February 1st, 2006

One of our readers, CryptoInformant, sent in a link to a website with photos that may, or may not, be an unexplained marine animal. The title of the page is “Sea Serpent? Plesiosaur?”

One day in June, about 1990, my friend Joanne Rauch and I hiked along the central Oregon coast at Cape Meares. We soon spotted a large object on the beach.

I took the pictures, but I can’t remember which camera I used at the time. I believe it was a Minolta 35mm point and shoot.

I paced the length of the “sea serpent” – 13 paces, approximately 33 feet since my pace at the time was a bit over 2.5 feet.

If the bent leg points to the head, the head was missing as far as I could tell, chewed or screwed off by a propeller, or perhaps rotted away.

Unfortunately, some liquid spilled on some of the pictures and efforts to clean them resulted in minimal damage. When that happened, I stopped my efforts to clean the photos. Somewhere in the house I have the negatives and when I get them, I’ll developed them and make better scans.

I called the Hatfield Marine Science center (Newport, OR) and described what we’d seen. Their best suggestion was that this is a gray whale, despite the tapering neck and tail. One woman suggested the bent flipper might be a grotesque penis. She didn’t see the pictures.

I’ve hiked the wilderness strip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, a couple of hundred miles north of Cape Mears, and seen 4 dead gray whales over the years. None looked remotely like this-the grays don’t taper nearly so much at the tail and don’t taper at all at the head. The heads are massive.

What the heck is this thing???

General view with Joanne in the background

Sea Serpent

Click photo above to view full-size

The Beastie’s body

Sea Serpent

Click photo above to view full-size

The Beastie’s other side

Sea Serpent

Click photo above to view full-size

The Beastie’s curious appendage

Sea Serpent

Click photo above to view full-size

Photos copyright Michael Cenedella and are posted with his written consent. Mr. Cenedella upon research, believes the beastie to be a gray whale.

Update: Additionnal Photos in More To Chew On.

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.


48 Responses to “Mystery Photos: Sea Serpent or Plesiosaur? Name That Carcass!”

  1. Arkansan_88 responds:

    I have no idea what it is. I can say that I dont think it’s a whale. The appendage thing looks like a leg to me. In the top photo, it looks like it has a long tail and it doesn’t look anything like a whale tail. It could be something new that washed up. There is nothing in those photos that would make me even begin to think whale.

  2. mtgrogan responds:

    The only problem I have with the gray whale theory is that upon looking at the description of the gray whale, it states it has two paddle shaped flippers. You can see a large flipper, but what the hell is the other appendage. Nothing like that on a gray whale. Of course, it could be the gray whale’s unborn twin’s remains, like a dog I once had that started growing a toe with a nail out of it’s back when it was 6 years old. Freaky. The extra limb kind of has that quality about it, I’d say.

  3. Laura responds:

    I don’t think it’s a whale. I also don’t think that the “leg” is a leg. It does look like a sex organ because of the way the tissues around it “fold.” But still, it’s not a whale.

  4. ned-kogar responds:

    Looks like a whale penis to me. I’ve seen similar (not in the flesh, mind..eg online here) and it appears to protrude from the ventral line of the carcass.

    Glad they had a camera. Wish they’d had a spade, too.

  5. MadMatt32171 responds:

    My vote is whale- that would be it’s penis and the flukes/tail are missing or buried (looks like they’re gone altogether to me). Also, you can see the tip of the right flipper poking from the sand in front of the carcass in pics 1 and 2- best in 2. I’m sure if they had uncovered the head region they would have found a blow hole pretty quick.

    Of course, it’s easy for us to complain about them not uncovering more of it- I’m sure the stench would have been enough to gag a maggot.

  6. JRufus responds:

    Image three looks like a walrus.

  7. RocketSeason responds:

    It looks pretty much like a whale. The “flipper” is infact its sex organ.

    Without seeing the head, its pretty difficult to try and identify the type of whale, but nothing about the body looks out of the ordinary.

    Sorry guys, no sea monster this time.

    -Matt

  8. CryptoInformant responds:

    The main problem I have with the whale penis theory is the fact that, if you look at the front flipper, you can compare its position on the body to that of the other limb, and both are actually on the animal’s SIDE. You can also see the shape of the side of the animal’s hip. The tail is too long, and probably never supported a fluke. My theory is that its a pliosaur, or short necked plesiosaur, because the flipper points AWAY from the head, and the odd limb is a flipper partially bit off by a large shark, probably a tiger shark due to the size of the hole and the fact the the appendage twisted AROUND, so the caudal end was now the cranial end, and the other way around. The injured flipper then healed over the wound, making it seem whole. I would say the animal lived with this handicap for 5 or more years.

  9. danni_teen responds:

    I think its a manatee. I’m very good with animals, wanting to be an animal police officer I’ve studied them since I was about 7 years old. I’d say its a manatee, if you look at “Beastie’s other side” picture and look at its flipper, it looks very closely related to the manatee’s flipper in this picture. So it could be a decayed manatee, I can definitely see the similarities between the two.

  10. danni_teen responds:

    I’d say decayed manatee. The flipper looks really close to it and the body mass definitely screams manatee. As for the head it’s probably buried under the sand because in the first picture the sand looks quite bumpy.

  11. MïK responds:

    It is too bad that the story shows up 16 years later. and the only size reference is a guy standing a ways away (without knowing the lens length, it would be hard to get a size). I’d have to say it’s a sea lion that the guy thought looked real enough to send in.

  12. jjames1 responds:

    As the last poster mentioned, I’m a bit confused by why the photographer waited 16 years to show these pictures to someone. If he really believed that he had captured something new/mysterious/fascinating on film, why wait so long?

    I’m with the posters who believe it’s a whale.

  13. RandyinCT responds:

    Manatee? I don’t recall Manatees having ANYTHING slender on their bodies so the ends of this creature wouldn’t match one at all.

  14. eaenkiufo responds:

    I dont know what kind of animal it is but that is not a flipper its a penis for sure. Its right on the center line of the animals body.And there is a muscle at the top and bottom of the penis for control so its not a leg.But it does seem to taper to much to be a whale.It does appear to have a long neck but we will never know.

  15. jmsage responds:

    I have lived in Baja California and San Diego most of my life and have seen many Gray Whales wash up on shore. And other strange things. But this has me baffled. I wish they would have dug around the body of the animal to expose more of it’s dimensions. The flipper in photo 3 does look like a whale’s flipper. The “leg” looks more like (I don’t mean to be crude) it’s penis. The tail section has me a little confused, though. There doesn’t appear to be any fins I can locate, unless the camera angle is looking directly at it’s edge, making the tail appear to be finless.

    My guess? A whale.

  16. finestkind responds:

    Kind of reminds me of this thing.

    But a bigger version.

  17. Mona responds:

    It looks like a bull elephant seal. The size is right and they are currently doing their mating/fighting thing on the Pacific NW coast. The males don’t eat for weeks during this period and do alot of bloody battling. I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy was killed by another seal and washed up on shore.

  18. jjames1 responds:

    Mona, if you re-read the post, I think you’ll see that the photos were allegedly taken in June of 1990. They’re not recent photos.

  19. TemplarKnight21c responds:

    Given the photo tricks that people are capable of these days, and the distance at which the other person is standing, it looks like a rotting iguana to me. If it IS as big as they’re making it out to be, I would love to know what made those tooth marks visible in photo two.

  20. jmsage responds:

    April, May, and June are the migration dates for the Gray Whale north. This falls in-line with the date of June when the pictures were taken. It appears to be an adolescent Gray.

    As for the “tooth marks”, how do we know they’re tooth marks? Looks like kick marks to me. My brother and I have kicked many whale carcasses in our day and they have left similar marks.

    (No, Whale Kicking is not a San Diegan pass-time.)

    Young whales washing up on the beach during migration is very common.

    Sorry, but it is a whale in the pictures.

    As for why it took so long to have these pictures published? 16 years ago many people did not have internet is my guess. Who had scanners back then? And who remembers all the pictures they took in one year, let alone 16?

    They just stumbled upon a dead whale.

  21. Snappers responds:

    I agree with Mona, I believe this is also a large bull Elephant Seal. I’ve seen many of them of them at the Año Nuevo State Park in California and the apparent size, color, and shape are just right. You can see more pics of elephants seals here.

  22. Chris responds:

    What are those five holes in an arch pattern right through the carcass midsection in the #2 picture?

  23. 2400bc responds:

    Let’s say that the “bent leg” is actually a penis. Notice it is erect. This usually happens when a male body dies of slow suffocation. This suggests that this creature was an air breather.

  24. james responds:

    HEY !!! Could this be the infamous Nessie, from the Loch Ness Lake ? I mean with all it`s features it does look prehistoric. HMM ? What are the odds !

  25. Cameron responds:

    The five holes may be scars from lamprey or cookie-cutter shark bites. I also think that this carcass is from a gray whale.

  26. TemplarKnight21c responds:

    They look too uniform to be from lamprey or cookie cutters. Although, they are also too neat to be from something like a great white, and the flesh would have been torn off.

  27. Syndicate responds:

    large elephant seal, approx. 8-10 feet in length.

  28. Chris responds:

    Could the “appendage” be a partially-born fetus and this be a female animal?

  29. oldbutnotstupid responds:

    It’s a basking shark. a large male by the look of it. the penis ??? is a clasper. The tail is the top half of the tail, which is normally what we find. And no head is to be expected as most falls away leaving only the top portion which looks like a neck. This is a classic example of a basking shark remains. Nice photos though.

  30. dontgd responds:

    Baird’s Beaked Whale.

    The skin looks like that.

    It looks like a pleiosaur because of the sand has been moved around to cover it.

    Why is it that if I found something I really thought was mysterious, I’d call the newspaper, etc and make a big deal out of it. This “mystery” was probably solved 15 years ago in their local papers and these pictures are being trotted out now.

    Don

  31. jmsage responds:

    The “holes” are marks where someone kicked it with a shoe or boot. I know because I have kicked whale carcasses before and those are the impressions they leave.

  32. CryptoInformant responds:

    The person, as you can read in the post, walked the length of the creature, determining it to be about 33 feet in length, longer than any elephant seal. If you look at photo 1, you can see that the arched marks actually show the ribcage, meaning the poor beast starved to death. You can also see that the limb is positioned above the showing part of the ribcage, the rest of the ribs covered by muscle or thick skin. The limb is twisted out of its natural position, but not by a tiger shark, but by an orca. It is odd to think that a krill eating whale would starve to death, as they are always near their prey, but a major predator could easily starve. IT’S A PLIOSAUR!

  33. CryptoInformant responds:

    Never mind about the rest being entirely covered of the ribs, if you look closely you can see elevations of the skin near the flipper where the ribs are.

  34. yubpro responds:

    some people suggested that this animal was a manatee, however, if the photographer was being honest when saying that he shot these pictures while in oregon, i have trouble believing that this animal could ever be a manatee; unless one escaped from the zoo, or was lost and accidentally swam around the americas, or maybe the whole globe, for that matter.

  35. Nerull responds:

    Dead baleen whale. Thats what i see.

  36. Kayaker responds:

    Wow, that pic of the emasculating whaler is convincing. Thanks, Ned. And thanks for appreciating my details. I want folks to know as much as possible to decide for themselves.

    Mike

  37. Kayaker responds:

    If you search the web for “whale penis”, as Ned suggested, I hope Alberto Gonzalez and his FEEBS don’t bust down your door for being a cross-species perv.

    No one wants crypto-wildlife in their living room.

  38. Batgirl responds:

    It’s too big to be a manatee and the ‘penis’ is on the side, and looks more like a flipper.

    Batgirl

  39. CryptoInformant responds:

    Batgirl-

    Thanks for seeing the actual positioning of the limb on the carcasse, although it doesn’t look like a complete flipper to me.

    CryptoInformant

  40. Saiga responds:

    Also, this photo has been altered. The tip of the tail has been retouched to be longer and fatter. A fluke has been edited out by duplicating a portions of the sand.

    The whale’s anus, found where you’d expect to find it, between tail and penis, is easily visible, and from that you can figure where the center line of the animal’s chest was. It’s laying rolled over on its back, and one pectoral flipper is in the sand.

  41. Saiga responds:

    The alleged kick marks are also photoshopped in. Comparing the two pictures carefully, they aren’t in the same formation.

    Looks like somebody was going for a lame plesiosaurus-gets-attacked-by-giant-squid hoax.

  42. CryptoInformant responds:

    Those are not kick marks, but punctures from a ten foot pole, probably from a prankster going for the good ole “gaseous anomaly” effect. The anus is visible, but only furthers my point that the limb is attached to the side. Other than water damage, which Kayaker mentioned on the site he has about the beastie, I see no signs that could be misconstrued as evidence of photoshop.

  43. thelatwarthepo responds:

    If you watch the picture, you can see air/light shining below the tail/neck. The object/neck isn’t that much in the sand at all.

  44. thelatwarthepo responds:

    The pictures show some other facts:

    – Creatures lays on his side.
    – 2 big flippers.
    – 1 small one on the side and not the middle.
    – A strange long tail/neck.

    If it has only these 3 flippers the creature is out of balance. It isn’t suprising that there has to be an other flipper below in the sand exactly on the other side of the creature so it would be even.

  45. jayvee responds:

    The third “flipper” to me appears to be in the middle near the rear, just infront of the base of the tail. I believe it looks perhaps more like the creature’s “reproductive organ.”

    Just from experiance from watching TV and such, it appears much like a sea-creature’s, such as a dolphin’s.

  46. insane visions responds:

    by the colour and condition it is in it looks like died of stress or blood loss
    and the shape of its head it was obviously a “deep sea diver” due to its “pointed head” like a shovel and it looks kind of small it could be a baby that was harrased by a shark or some thing.

  47. Sue Deniem responds:

    Looks like it could be a whale who’s given partial birth, possibly attacked by killer whales. Killer whales notoriously attack and mangle or bite off the head of juvenile whales in migration route with their mamas. Could it be mama got cought while in the throes of labor?

  48. Sordes responds:

    Whale carcasses get often strange colours when they rot, that’s normal. And this is no half-born fetus but only the male genitals.




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