6 November 2009

Of coelacanths and sea-monsters

On the subject of sea serpents - while many of the specific cases in the literature are inconsistent or unconvincing there is a substantial body of evidence suggesting that at least one species of large marine animal quite different in form to the baleen whales still exists and remains to be formally recognised. The evidence from the north-west Atlantic (as described in the book The Great New England Sea Serpent) is I think particularly strong - with well over 200 reports from the 19th and 20th centuries (not all of equal quality of course) and a particular peak of sightings in the period from 1815 into the 1830s, with many sightings involving tens of people and some witnessed by over 100 people. I particularly find interesting the fact that the 19th century observations showed seasonal behaviour, with sightings suggesting that the fish shoals were followed and fed on at certain times of year, and that the drop off in reports correlated with the collapse of the fish stocks due to over fishing.
-- from a comment by Mark Lees on a post by Darren Naish.

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