Monday, January 5, 2009

HISTORY'S MYSTERIES: Monsters of the Sea

History Channel - Original Air Date:

The show starts with a supposed sound recording of a lake monster from Sweden, and then quickly flashes through some intriguing looking video of various possible lake monsters.  It then talks about Champ (in Lake Champlain), and its history and sightings -- the earliest sighting may have been a gar pike.  But other people saw things that resembled dinosaurs, and the sightings continue to this day. The leading theories about Champ are that it is either a prehistoric reptile or whale.  One expert says it is a tanhysophius (sp?) a long-necked reptile with legs.  But that expert's Champ footage has been debunked as possibly just beavers crossing the lake.  The show then displays the famous long neck 1977 Champ photo.  What the photo shows remains unknown.  A quick recap of the discovery of the celocanth and the megamouth shark follows - indicating strange, unknown creatures may still be found in the future.

Dead specimines of an oarfish and a frill shark (very eel-like) are displayed, and the history of washed-up carcasses are discussed.  Could some of them have been giant octopuses? The New England sea serpent of 1641 is then discussed, and the 1870 Gloucester sighting.  (Sadly, no pictures, though 600 witnesses over a month of sightings.)  Various historical sea serpent sightings are then discussed.  One serpent supposedly slain by a fishing crew, was cut loose from a net rather than hauled into port.  What scientific information may have been lost in that decision is unknown -- unless it was just a fish tale.

A series of 1983 sea monster sightings in California are discussed, where many people saw a sea serpent frolicking in shallow water. The creature even swam toward some surfers -- who swear it was one long creature, and not a pod of whales or seals.  Scientific investigation of the serpents has not been helped by hoaxes and showman frauds (Barnum and others).  The show then moves onto Cadborosaurus "Caddy," in Canada.  A fuzzy film of Caddy is shown.  A sea serpent carcass supposedly from the stomach of a whale (fuzzy photo) disappeared before any scientists could investigate.

Ogopogo is then discussed, and its legend recounted.  More fuzzy films and pictures follow, as do witness sightings.  Only one local offers the explanation that Lake Okenagan is known to be populated by very large sturgeon.  Finally, the Loch Ness Monster is discussed, including photos (the famous fake), and even (scripted) motion picture clips.  Dr. Roy Mackal claims to have seen it, and thinks it's a zeuglodon (prehistoric whale).  Attempts to find the monster and famous hoaxes are discussed (including the "surgeon's photo").  The show concludes that thoug skeptics and believers may never agree, sea monsters, and sightings of them, are here to stay.

This is a decent overview of the phenominon of sea & lake monsters, but offers very little in the way of tangible evidence or scientific analysis.  If you're looking to get up to speed on sea and lake monsters, this may be useful.  For the rest of us, there's nothing new or particularly insightful.

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