FeeJee Mermaid On Display

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 13th, 2009

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal
A movie prop from the 1999 A&E movie P.T. Barnum depicts the FeeJee mermaid, and is part of the International Cryptozoology Museum.

The Portland Press Herald’s “Go” section on November 12, 2009, carried an article entitled, “Believe it or not, Bigfoot and a FeeJee Mermaid on display,” by Shannon Bryan, Staff Writer.

Shannon Bryan/Staff Writer
Museum owner and crptozoologist Loren Coleman talks to a pair of visitors.

Shannon Bryan/Staff Writer
The International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland features this artifact – the 8-foot, 400-pound Crookston Bigfoot.

Shannon Bryan/Staff Writer
As the inscription says, this is a “Fur Bearing Trout – and it can be found at the new cryptozoology museum in Portland.

Giant squid were once monsters of legend, imaginary tentacled beasts of the deep sea. Mythical, that is, until 40-foot-long squid carcasses started washing up on the shores of Newfoundland. The creatures quickly found themselves propelled into the ranks of legitimacy.

Thus far, unicorns have proven more elusive. And our aquatic friend stationed in Scotland’s Loch Ness seems to be painfully camera-shy. But that doesn’t stop visitors from scanning the water’s surface hoping for a glimpse of what many scientists say they’ll never see.

That’s the lure of a cryptid.

Modern-day cynicism has us believing that Himalayan yeti sightings are quite simply altitude-induced hallucinations. And mermaids are the consequence of 18 months at sea with nothing but a fish dinner, a jug of rum and a desperate imagination to keep you company at night.

But rationalizations like that don’t deter a steadfast cryptozoologist. They’re dedicated to studying those “hidden animals” that mainstream science rolls its eyes at.

Portlander and cryptozoologist Loren Coleman has been well-known around town for his in-home collection of cryptid paraphernalia – most notably the 8-foot-tall, 400-pound Crookston Bigfoot.

His growing collection is now readily accessible on Congress Street at the International Cryptozoology Museum, which is open to the public.

The museum resides in a back room of Strange Maine blogger Michelle Souliere’s new Green Hand Books, which opened on the same day.

The small, one-room museum is packed with specimens, from a FeeJee Mermaid encased in glass to a visual timeline of Bigfoot (who appears to have gotten progressively more friendly over the years).

Artistic renderings and sculptures fill shelves alongside plastic dinosaurs, plaster casts and a bottle of Loch Ness Scotch Whisky. Popular culture, folklore and science find each other good company here.

And visitors are free to regress into childish imagination, where leprechauns dawdle in distant fields and swamp monsters drag unsuspecting townspeople deep into the marsh.

So let your skepticism take an afternoon off when you peruse Coleman’s cryptid collection. Besides, it might be nice to live in a world where scientists didn’t scoff at the idea of furred fish and minotaurs – and where an upstanding Sasquatch can come into town for a cup of coffee without being hassled, photographed or tranquilized.

The gargantuan spider that’s tall enough to turn doorknobs, however, can remain a happy figment, to be glimpsed only in sci-fi movies and the occasional camping nightmare.

Photo by David Buscher.



WHERE: 661 Congress St., Portland

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

COST: $5

CONTACT: 518-9496; www.cryptozoologymuseum.com

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.

4 Responses to “FeeJee Mermaid On Display”

  1. Sordes responds:

    From what kind of material is the mermaid made? Is is casted in epoxy or in silicone rubber?

  2. Rogutaan responds:

    Haha, what I wouldn’t give for a bottle of Loch Ness Scotch Whiskey…

    Good to see your getting quite a bit of publicity!

  3. LanceFoster responds:

    Nice story Loren!

    I just noticed you have the Crookston Bigfoot by the window…I realize you probably already know this, but long-term exposure to direct sunlight will fade and damage the Bigfoot’s hair.

    Almost anything exposed to daily direct sunlight will eventually fade, discolor, and deteriorate.

  4. Loren Coleman responds:

    Thanks for the comments, Lance.

    Yes, I am aware of the damage that sunlight can do to exhibitions. However, the front window has been treated with a UV filtering treatment.

    Intriguingly, when the Crookston Bigfoot was in Minnesota for about a half decade, part of the time it sat outside a roast beef eating establishment, exposed to the elements, including sunshine, plus the adults & kids who stepped on the base (resulting in some of the cracking in evidence today).

    I have taken precautions to guard against some of the neglect in the past, in how it is exhibited at its new Congress Street location.

    BTW, considering that the musk oxen furs employed to make this model were worn outside during the life of the musk oxen, the color appears to be holding up rather well since the move to this new domestic museum lifestyle. 🙂

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