Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Monday, April 12, 2010


RICHARD FREEMAN: The Monster of Pembroke Dock

A few months ago Lindsay wrote a blog about the Pembroke Dock sea monster. I have just unearthed Richard Freeman's article about the beast from the 4th issue of the late and unlamented Tropical World magazine back in 2004. As no-one ever read the damn thing at the time, mainly because it was being used for nefarious purposes by the publishers, here is his article:

In the spring of 2003 cryptozoological news groups received a report of a sea serpent seen in the River Cleddau off Pembroke Dock, Wales. The reports spoke of a creature with a long row of humps, or loops, much like a type of sea serpent christened the “Many Humped” by Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans.

Earlier this year I travelled to Pembroke Dock to interview the witnesses. What I found was a case of Chinese whispers and a story more interesting than I had ever anticipated.

It was 1pm on March 5, 2003. Lesley John, the barmaid at the Shipwright Inn on Front Street, was pouring a pint when she looked out into the river and saw something strange. “It was a big black fin moving slowly through the water and drawing ripples after it.” The landlord David Crew and three regulars rushed out to get a closer look.

One man, Peter Thomas, was having a meal by the window at the time. He was one of the first out. “I saw a diamond-shaped, snake-like head lifted a couple of feet clear of the water. It was gliding along smoothly, without moving side to side, or up and down. It swam against the tide and caused turbulence. I love the river. I spend most weekends on it but I have never seen anything like this before.”

David Crew added, “It moved smoothly and I felt that it had limbs below the surface that it propelled itself with. A car ferry goes across this part of the river regularly. The monster was about five times as long as a car.”

As well as the people in the pub there was a crowd milling around outside whom all saw the monster. A few days later a photo was anonymously dropped into the pub. It shows a long, dark form in the water visible between the old sea fort and a dock wall. In the foreground is the beach and a long outcropping of rocks. By using the outcropping as a frame of reference I estimated the object in the photo to be 60ft long.
It does not resemble the description that did the rounds on the internet, the “Many Humped” animal Dave Crew says “It didn't look anything like the classic Nessie with a row of humps or a long neck.”
Dave, Lesley, and Peter say that the photo exactly matches what they saw. The witness descriptions sound very different from the Internet description as well. It has a largish head on a relatively short neck. A long, wide body, and a long tail. It more closely resembles a type of sea monster Heuvelmans calls the “Marine Saurian”. Alun Lewis runs a dive boat called the Cleddau Queen. Pembroke Dock is the world's second- deepest natural harbour. The waters are far warmer than they should be at this latitude and attract marine life usually found further south. Ergo it is popular with divers. Alun has his own idea about the monster.

“A couple of weeks after the sighting I saw a Ministry of Defence ship a few miles down river (Pembroke Dock is nine miles inland from the sea). A number of big Chinook helicopters were coming and going from it. One of them had a mini submarine strapped to it. It was about 40ft long. I think that is what they saw.”

I put this to the witnesses but they were adamant that what they saw was a living creature. Peter saw it raise its head up. If the Pembroke Dock monster was an actual animal what could it be? Heuvelmans postulated that the “Marine Saurian” was a giant sea-going reptile, possibly a descendent of the mososaurs (a group of vast aquatic lizards) or the thalattasuchian, finned sea dwelling reptiles of the Mesozoic era. Unlike the popular plesiosaur theory, this idea involves animals with close living relatives, varanid lizards and modern crocodiles respectively.

Quite how the Pembroke Dock monster was transformed into a long necked humped animal by the media is unclear. Perhaps it was something to do with preconceptions of what a sea serpent should look like. Sadly the negatives from the photo were never sent to Dave and his friends; so once again we are left with a fascinating picture and compelling eyewitness accounts but no hard evidence. I think the people of this sleepy little Welsh town did see something strange in the waters of the Cleddau but as is mostly the case in cryptozoology I came away with more questions than answers.

If you are ever in Pembroke Dock do pop into the Shipwright Inn. They have kept the photo and you can examine it yourself. The three main witnesses are in there most nights and the steak pie is to die for.


Hi Jon,

After reading your blog post “What’s in a Name?” yesterday, about the word chupacabra, I was doing a little searching and I came across a snippet when delving amongst Google Books, at this link:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Tb1oAAAAMAAJ&q=chupacabra&dq=chupacabra&lr=&cd=364 where you can see the word chupacabra highlighted in yellow. So I went over to Amazon UK and found the title, listed as having been published in 1984: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Latin-America-Teaching-Cathryn-Lombardi/dp/0299097145/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271001185&sr=1-1

I don't know if the info is of any use at all, but thought I'd send it over anyway.

Best wishes,


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1951 Peter Moffett was born. He is better known by his stage name Peter Davison and his role as vet Tristan Farnon in ‘All Creatures Great and Small’, he was the Fifth incarnation of The Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’ as well.
And now, the news:

Missing link between man and apes found in South Africa
Stuffed animals to be sold at auction

Some of the things being sold in that auction are the ‘stuff’ of legend.