LITTLE BAY EAST-FORTUNE BAY (Correspondent)
Charles Bungay has no doubt about what he saw rear
up out of the water after him on Sunday.
The creature was long with gray, scaly skin and dark eyes that looked right at him, the Fortune Bay fisherman said. It was frightening.
I shook for about five or six hours afterwards, he said. Iíve never witnessed anything like it in my life.
Jon Lien, a Memorial University marine biologist, was reluctant Monday to speculate on exactly what Bungay and a companion might have seen but he ruled out a humpback whale, large basking shark or a giant squid.
Lien, a whale researcher, said after receiving a full description heís more inclined to think along the lines of a similar creature called Cadborosaurus reportedly sighted on numerous occasions off the coast of British Columbia.
There have been hundreds of sightings of this, whatever it is, on the west coast, but no one has ever found a carcass, said Lien.
Maybe we have just discovered the east coast version of that so-called sea monster, I donít know.
Bungay said it was about noon on Sunday when he and a companion spotted what they thought were floating garbage bags.
They decided to haul them on board but when they got within 50 or 60 feet, something else reared its head.
It eyeballed us right away. It turned its head and looked right at us, said Bungay.All we could see was a neck about six feet long, a head like a horse, but his dark eyes were on the front of its face like a human.
The overall length he estimated at about 30 to 40 feet.
He said it had ears or horns six or eight inches long. He knows what its mouth looked like but he couldnít remember it being open, it all happened so fast.
He just looked at us and slid under the water and disappeared.
Another Bay LíArgent fishermen says he had a similar experience four or five years ago.
It was the year the ice floes came further south then weíve ever witnessed and flowed up into Fortune Bay, said John Hardiman, 66.It was exactly the same as them fellows described it.
But I never seen its head that was beneath the water. I did see its big long tail, more like those dinosaurs you see on TV. Thatís what it looked like to me.
Such incidents may be more common than most people may think. One U.S. report of 600 sightings concluded over half werenít obvious hoaxes or mistaken identity.
Most common is the long-necker, described as from 15 to 65 feet long with a large, rounded hump. The creature has been reported in nearly every ocean.
But Philip Hiscock, archivist at Memorial Universityís folklore department, wasnít impressed Monday.
He said the fishermen likely saw a giant squid.
In the summer of 1937 there were a lot of reports of sea monsters around Newfoundland and it turned out later to be giant squid, said Hiscock. The mid-60s was the next cycle and now the mid-90s.
Hiscock said nobody took the reports seriously 60 years ago but the sightings eventually led biologists to conduct a lot of research on giant squid.
Fishermen and biologists came across pieces of these monsters and discovered they were real, and by tracking down the stories in the press, they were able to figure out a cycle.
Monster or not, MUNís Lien said such sightings are not unusual, that sometimes science fiction does become science fact.
A lot of animals in their time were initially thought to be mythical or sea monsters, he said.Thatís applied to everything from large sharks like the basking shark in our waters to whales like the sperm whale, large turtles and giant squid.