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Cetaceans, sex and sea serpents: an analysis of the Egede accounts of a “most dreadful monster” seen off the coast of Greenland in 1734

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A re-evaluation of the "most dreadful monster" originally described by the "Apostle of Greenland" Hans Egede in 1741 suggests that the missionary's son Poul probably saw an unfamiliar cetacean. The species seen was likely to have been a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), a North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) or one of the last remaining Atlantic grey whales (Eschrichtius robustus) either without fl ukes or possibly a male in a state of arousal.
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Archives of natural history 32 (1): 1–9. 2005 © C. G. M. Paxton, E. Knatterud & S. L. Hedley 2005.
Cetaceans, sex and sea serpents: an analysis of the
Egede accounts of a “most dreadful monster” seen off
the coast of Greenland in 1734
C. G. M. PAXTON
A
, E. KNATTERUD
B
and S. L. HEDLEY
A
A
Research Unit For Wildlife Population Assessment, Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental
Modelling, University of St Andrews, The Observatory, Buchanan Gardens, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9LZ, UK.
B
Bratlien Farm, Nesveien 1081, 2353 Stavsjoe, Norway.
ABSTRACT: A re-evaluation of the “most dreadful monster” originally described by the “Apostle of
Greenland”
Hans Egede in 1741 suggests that the missionary’s son Poul probably saw an unfamiliar
cetacean. The species seen was likely to have been a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), a
North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) or one of the last remaining Atlantic grey whales
(Eschrichtius robustus) either without fl ukes or possibly a male in a state of arousal.
KEY WORDS: sea-monster – fl ukeless whales – whale’s penis – Hans Egede – Poul Egede.
INTRODUCTION
The famous account of the Danish-Norwegian missionary Hans Egede, “the Apostle of
Greenland”, of “a most dreadful monster” (H. Egede, 1741, 1745) seen off the coast of
Greenland in 1734, has been a regular feature of sea-monster books ever since Henry Lee’s
Sea monsters unmasked (1883). The case is interesting in that Egede had drawn and described
a number of large northern whale species in his book so he obviously felt the “dreadful”
monster was something different.
Conjectures about this curious animal have included such known animals as a giant
squid (Ellis, 1998; Lee, 1883) or an (extinct) Basilosaurid whale (Thomas, 1996) as well
as such speculative animals as a giant marine otter (Heuvelmans, 1968) or a giant long-
necked seal (Oudemans, 1892). However most authors have relied solely upon the imperfect
1745 English translation of Hans Egede’s book A description of Greenland, rather than the
additional accounts of this incident in the original Danish. We consider four early sources
for this encounter, one by Hans Egede, two by his son Poul and fourthly some remarks
attributed second-hand to another witness, a Mr Bing, and we offer a novel interpretation
of what was seen.
ACCOUNTS
Hans Egede (1686–1758) was not a witness and his account is second-hand based presumably
on the recollection of his son Poul (1708–1789) which was published separately later
(P. Egede, 1741). Nonetheless it contains some information not given in the other accounts.
Hans Egede’s (1741: 47– 49) account was as follows
1
:
Men ingen af dem ere i vore Tider kommen os til Siune, uden allene et forfærdeligt stort Hav-Dyr, som 1734
blev seet i Søen uden for Colonien paa 64. Gr. og var af denne Gestalt og Skikkelse. Det var et saa overmaade
2 CETACEANS, SEX AND SEA SERPENTS
stort Bæst, saa dets hovet ragte sig lige jevnt ved Skibets Mers, der det kom op af Vandet, og Kroppen var
nok saa tyk omkring som Skibet, og vel 3 à 4. gange saa lang. Det havde en lang spidz Snude, og blæste som
en Hvalfi sk havde breede store Laller, og Kroppen syntes at være begroet med Skiæl, og var meget runken og
ujevn paa Huden. Den var ellers skabt neden til som en Orm, og der det gik under Vandet, laftet det sig bag
over, og reiste saa Stierten op af vandet, en heel skibs lengde fra Kroppen.
But none of them are in our time [by] us been seen except a terribly big sea creature which in 1734 was seen in
the sea outside the colony at 64 degrees. And was of this form and shape. It was a so enormously big creature,
[that] its head reached the [ship’s] yard arm and the body was as thick as the ship and was 3 to 4 times as
long. It had a long pointed nose, and blew like a whale, [it] had big broad fl ippers, and the body seemed to be
covered with a carapace [“shellwork” (H. Egede, 1745); “scales” (Thomas, 1996)], and the skin was wrinkled
and rough. It was otherwise created at the rear like a serpent and when it went under the water it lifted itself
backwards and raised then the tail up from the water a ship’s length away from the body.
This passage is slightly misleading as Poul Egede’s (1741: 6–7) account makes it clear that
the witnesses were on a voyage from Denmark to the Danish settlement at Disko Bay (69º N),
three days past the other Danish colony at Nuuk (64º N) on the west coast of Greenland.
Den 6. loed sig Tilsiune et meget forskrekligt Haf-Dyr, hvilket reiste sig saa høyt over Vandet, at Hovedet af
det, ragte over vores store-Mers. Det havde en lang spids Snude, og blæste som en Hvalfi sk, havde breede
store Laller, og Kroppen syntes at være begroed med Skiell, og var meget runken og ujefn paa Huden; den
var ellers skabt nedentil som en Orm, og der det gik under Vandet igien kastet det sig bag over og reyste saa
Stierten op af Vandet en heel Skibs længde fra Kroppen.
The 6th [July] let itself show [be visible] a very horrible sea-creature which rose itself so high over the water
that the head of it reached above our big yard arm. It had a long pointed snout and it blew [spouted] like a
whale [it] had broad big fl ippers and the body seemed to be grown [covered] with carapace and [it] was very
wrinkled and uneven [rough] on its skin; it was otherwise created below like a serpent and where it went
under the water again threw itself backwards and raised thereafter the tail up from the water a whole ship’s
length from the body.
This account was illustrated in a map (drawn by Egede senior: Figures 1–3).
Poul Egede ([1789]: 45 – 46) gave a slightly different account many years later; the
undated book was probably published in 1789.
Her lod sig tilsyne et usædvanligt forfærdelig Dyr, der reiste sig saa høit over Vandet at Hovedet syntes at
rekke til vor Mers. Dens Aande var ei stærk som Hvalfi skens, da den anden gang kom op af Vandet. Første
Gang blev vi den ikke vaer, førend den stod saa got som over os paa et Pistol skud nær. Hovedet var smalere
end kroppen, som syntes blød og runken, havde brede nedhengende Laller, det var 3 Gange over Vandet. Sidste
Gang langt borte. Naar det dukkede under, kastede det sig bag over. Siden kom den lange Hale op bag efter,
meer en Skibs Længde fra Kroppen.
Here let itself be shown [be visible] an extraordinarily horrible creature, that rose so high over the water that its
head seemed to reach to our yard arm. Its breath was not strong as the whale’s, when it the second time came
out of the water. The fi rst time we did not notice it until it stood as good as over us at a pistol shot close [to us]
[at a pistol shot’s distance]. The head was narrower than the body, which seemed to be soft and wrinkled, [it]
had broad down-hanging fl ippers, it was 3 times above the water. The last time far away. When it dived under,
[it] threw itself backwards. Then came the long tail up behind more than a ship’s length from the body.
The earlier account (P. Egede, 1741) appears to be a more-or-less verbatim transcription from
his diary, whereas this later one seems a more considered work, with diary-like material as
well as commentary.
2
Whether the additional material was from memory or from the original
diary is unclear. The later account has a revised picture of the monster from the map in a more
naturalistic setting although the morphology of the animal is the same.
The meagre fourth source for the encounter is an indirect quotation in Pontoppidan’s
(1755) Natural history of Norway: “Mr Bing ... informed his brother in law, that this creature’s
3CETACEANS, SEX AND SEA SERPENTS
eyes seemed red, and like burning fi re, which makes it appear it was not the common Sea-
snake.” This eighteenth-century translation of the original Danish of Pontoppidan (1753)
retains the essential meaning of the original.
ANALYSIS
The original language of all accounts is ambiguous and the images of the monster are at least
partially stylised (Figures 1–3). Only one pair of limbs is mentioned but there is a strange
protuberance visible in the drawing half way down the body, which could represent one of
a second pair of limbs, or it could be a penis (but see below) or dorsal fi n (depending on
the orientation of the body). This assumes the diagram is an accurate representation of the
encounter. It is only the rear end/underside of the monster that is described as serpent-like;
Egede (1789) omitted this simile. The only estimate of size was provided by Hans Egede
(1741) who stated that the monster was three to four times the length of the boat. The
boat has been estimated by Landstrøm (1994) to be between 21 and 24 metres long which,
accepting Egede senior’s account, could mean an animal between 64 and 98 metres long;
an implausible estimate of length. Furthermore, Hans Egede’s (1741) estimate contradicted
his own illustration, which suggests a creature about twice the length of the boat. Length
estimation of animals in the field is notoriously unreliable (Murphy and Henderson,
1997).
What did the witnesses see? Several diagnostic features were given (Table 1). The animal
“blew like a whale” (P. Egede, 1741), or “its breath was not strong as the whale’s” (Egede,
1789). Assuming the 1741 account is the more correct (early source), then the statements
can be interpreted in a number of ways. Poul Egede obviously did not think it was a whale,
hence the simile and the fact it was referred to as a “creature”. Nonetheless things that blow
like whales are, all other things being equal, most likely to be cetaceans. It had a long snout
or the head was narrower than the body. The word “Skiœl” can be variously translated as
“carapace”, “shell”, “scales” (for example Thomas, 1996), or as “shellwork” (for example
Egede, 1745), the latter in this context might signify encrusted with barnacles or callosities.
It had at least two (observable) fl ippers (pectoral limbs). If these were the only limbs, then
the animal would have to be a cetacean as most fi shes have two pairs of paired fi ns (although
eels have only a single pair of fi ns). However there is the strange protuberance depicted
in the midriff of the animal (Figures 1 and 2). The monster lifted itself backwards when
it dived. It is diffi cult to know what exactly this description means but possibly it was an
attempt to say that the creature came out of the water and fell back again on to its side or
back. The animal had a serpent-like tail that appeared out of the water when the rest of the
beast had disappeared. The creature had red eyes that, according to the interpretation of the
(exaggerated?) metaphor of Mr Bing, were glowing. Assuming the encounter took place in
daylight (as it was the Arctic summer), this luminosity would seem unlikely.
Most of these features could apply to a cetacean, especially one of the few species to
exhibit obvious “shellwork” (notably barnacles and callosities). Possible cetacean candidates
for the creature are compared in Table 1. Three species of whales which might have been seen
in the North Atlantic in the eighteenth century could be described as possessing “shellwork”.
One species, now locally extinct, is the grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus (Lilljeborg 1861))
which, if still present (Mead and Mitchell, 1984) in the North Atlantic in the 1730s, would
have been quite rare and thus may not have been recognised, even if the Egedes were
4 CETACEANS, SEX AND SEA SERPENTS
Figure 1. Pictorial map of the Godthaab (Nuuk) region, Greenland, published in P. Egede’s account (1741) (original
map 28.5 × 37.3cm). Note the stylised depiction of the creature (lower right) and the drawing of the serpent-like tail
(middle left).
5CETACEANS, SEX AND SEA SERPENTS
Figure 2. The creature as depicted in P. Egede (1741) (see Figure 1). Enlarged.
Figure 3. The fi gure of the serpent-like tail from the map (see Figure 1) in P. Egede
(1741). Enlarged.
Figures 4 (left) and 5 (right). Serpentine penises of whales. Figure 4: North Atlantic right whale photographed on 15
August 2001, Bay of Fundy (© New England Aquarium. Reproduced by permission of New England Aquarium, Boston,
Massachusetts). Figure 5: grey whale, photographed 1970s, Pacifi c coast of Baja California (© Steve Leatherwood,
reproduced by courtesy of Randall Reeves).
6 CETACEANS, SEX AND SEA SERPENTS
Table 1. Diagnostic features of the “monster” and some suspect large cetaceans (M = present; V = absent).
“Monster”
Eubaleana
glacialis
Balaena
mysticetus
Eschrichtius
robustus
Balaenoptera
spp.
Megaptera
novaeangliae
Physeter
catodon
Hyperoodon
ampullatus
Other Ziphiid
whale
Visible blow
MMMM M M M M M
(generally)
“Shellwork”
(callosities /
barnacles)
MM
V
M
VV
(but
tubercules on
head)
VVV
Limbs /
“fl ippers”
2 or more ? 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
Dorsal hump / fi n?
VV
M
(hump)
MM
(hump)
M
(hump)
MM
Red eyes
M
(but see text)
VVV V V V V V
Wrinkled skin
M
V
(where no
callosities)
V
M
VV
M
V
(but scarring)
M
Narrow jaw /
head
M
VV
MM
(generally)
VV
Broad head,
narrow
protruding beak
Sometimes
7CETACEANS, SEX AND SEA SERPENTS
familiar with most species of North Atlantic whale. This species has a dorsal hump which
might explain the protuberance shown in the diagram (Figure 2). The Pacifi c representatives
of this species are often not uniform in coloration, are covered in whale lice and barnacles
and can have wrinkles (or at least visible lines) (Jefferson et alii, 1997). A second species is
the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalena glacialis (Müller 1776)). It is not regularly found
as far north as Greenland although its range is thought to have extended there in the recent
past (Brown, 1986; Reeves and Mitchell, 1986). The third species is the humpback whale
(Megaptera novaeangliae (Borowski 1781)) which has tubercles around the jaw and can
have a small number of barnacles primarily on the lower surface of the body (Carwadine
et alii, 1998) although they may not be readily noticeable to the casual observer.
3
Did the
witnesses see a large unfamiliar baleen whale, perhaps exhibiting a relatively infrequent
behaviour, for example breaching?
One objection (Gould, 1930) to the monster being a cetacean is that both Egedes were
familiar with whales. There are descriptions and fi gures of several species in Hans Egede’s
works (1741, 1745). Hans Egede described eight “types” of whales (including porpoises)
in detail, and distinguished between whales and “fi shes properly so called”. The whales
described by Egede (1745) were as follows.
1. A “fi n whale”: there is no reason to think that the Egedes could necessarily distinguish
between different Balaenoptera species.
2. Another sort of unnamed whale which was fi gured (H. Egede, 1741: fi gure opposite
p. 79): appears to be a bowhead (Balaena mysticetus Linnaeus 1758).
3. “Northcaper”: a term later used exclusively for North Atlantic right whale (Eubaleana
glacialis) but Hans Egede (1741) did not describe it in any detail.
4. “Swordfi sh”: a confused account of something like a killer whale (Orcinus orca
(Linnaeus 1758)) that eats the tongues of larger whales.
5. A “sperm whale”: clearly Physeter catodon (Linnaeus 1758).
6. A “white sh”: the beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas (Pallas 1776)).
7. A “buthead”: from the description almost certainly a northern bottlenose whale
(Hyperoodon ampullatus (Forster 1770)).
8. The “unicorn”: the narwhal (Monodon monoceros Linnaeus 1758).
9. Porpoises: not described in detail.
It seems reasonable to conclude that Poul Egede, having grown up in Greenland and having
read his father’s book, would have recognised at least some of these species. The mention
of “Northcaper” (North Atlantic right whale) by Hans Egede (1741, 1745) may weaken the
case of the monster as a right whale because it should have been recognised. Nonetheless
this would not necessarily preclude the monster being a right whale if the Egedes were not
familiar with, or had a confused concept, of the “Northcaper”. The account of the “Northcaper”
does not give any diagnostic characters and Hans Egede was clearly confused about other
species. There was nothing in Egede’s list of whales resembling a humpback whale, unless
it was classifi ed as a “fi n whale”. It can be said with certainty that Egede made no mention
of a grey whale suggesting he was not familiar with this animal.
A more serious objection to a cetacean is that the rear of the animal was described
and drawn as serpent-like. Although whales are found, and can survive, without fl ukes
(for example grey whales (Gilmore, 1950)), serpent-like or eel-like bodies are not usually
associated with the rapid thrust (Webb, 1978) that would be required to rear the whole body
high out of the water.
8 CETACEANS, SEX AND SEA SERPENTS
However, there is an alternative explanation for the serpent-like tail. Many of the large
baleen whales have long, snake-like penises (Figures 4 and 5). If the animal did indeed fall
on its back then its ventral surface would have been uppermost and, if the whale was aroused,
the usually retracted penis would have been visible. The penises of the North Atlantic right
whale and (Pacifi c) grey whale can be at least 1.8 metres long (calculated from Collett,
1909), and 1.7 metres long (Rice and Wolman, 1971) respectively, and could be taken by
a naïve witness for a tail. That the tail was seen at one point a ship’s length from the body
suggests the presence of more than one male whale.
DISCUSSION
Like Owen’s (1848) interpretation of the famous sea-serpent observed in the South Atlantic
Ocean from HMS Daedalus, we have no “unmeet confi dence [sic]” in our interpretation of
the Egede creature. Nor are we suggesting that whales’ penises are a universal source of
sea-serpent sightings although we do think that one other sighting, that from the merchant
vessel Pauline in 1875 when a sea-serpent in the form of a “whitish pillar” was seen amongst
a pod of sperm whales “frantic with excitement” (Heuvelmans, 1968; Oudemans, 1892),
could be a misidentifi cation (the sperm whale penis can be pale (Harrison, 1938)). In the
case of the Egedes, we are assuming that the use of the serpent simile and the drawings
were not wholly accurate. If they were accurate, then the strongest objection to the baleen
whale interpretation of the Egede sighting is the presence of obvious teeth in the drawing.
Our explanation also assumes that the witnesses would not have recognised a whale’s penis
and that some species would display their penises in the summer off Greenland. Hans Egede
(1741, 1745) described the large “membrum virile” of a whale but the Egedes may not have
realised it could be seen at sea.
Despite these objections, even if the monster was an unknown species, the diagnostic
features (the blow, the two obvious fl ippers and the possible breaching behaviour) suggest a
cetacean. Ultimately, we will never know for certain. Whatever it was Poul Egede saw that
day, be it an amorous wandering grey, humpback or North Atlantic right whale, a fl ukeless
whale or an unknown species, it was a most unusual sight both at the time and now.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Thanks to Randall Reeves, Sonja Heinrich and some anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript and
Sascha Hooker for interesting Hyperoodon facts.
NOTES
1
The English translations following are by E. Knatterud. Interpolations (in square brackets) include variant
readings of the original Danish text.
2
We have been unable to determine if the original diary still exists.
3
S. L. Hedley, personal observation, South Atlantic Ocean, 2000.
9CETACEANS, SEX AND SEA SERPENTS
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Received: 27 July 2003. Accepted: 26 June 2004.
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... Recently, many authors have been discussing the possible misidentification of cetaceans as these large and monstrous sea serpents (e.g. Ellis, 1994;Paxton et al., 2005;France, 2016). What is now believed is that, eventually, a part of the back of a giant whale or of a whale shark, or even a pod of dolphins' porpoising -moving in high speed in a straight line -, might resemble the physical aspect of a serpent at the sea surface and might give the visual sense of such strange "animals" (Fig. 1). ...
... What is now believed is that, eventually, a part of the back of a giant whale or of a whale shark, or even a pod of dolphins' porpoising -moving in high speed in a straight line -, might resemble the physical aspect of a serpent at the sea surface and might give the visual sense of such strange "animals" (Fig. 1). For instance, Charles Paxton and colleagues (Paxton, 2005) offer a plausible explanation for the 18th-century sighting in the North Sea of the so-called Egede Sea Serpent (Fig. 2). They believe it was not a serpent that was observed but rather a large whale and they support their debate on the local occurrence of a couple of baleen whales, as well as on their anatomy and behaviours. ...
... As above mentioned, many researchers have been trying to understand historical accounts and descriptions of sea monsters -or sightings of 'unidentified marine objects' -through the lens of science and based on present-day biological knowledge of marine species and its habitats and behaviours (e.g. Paxton et al., 2005;Sent et al., 2013;France, 2016). Following this idea, we argue that some of the historical documental and are included in his tomes of natural history. ...
... At the rear, it was formed "like a serpent" and when it raised its tail from beneath the water, the tip was "a ship's length" away from the body. A recent analysis of the text concludes that the sighting was a cetacean, but for our purposes modern debates over taxonomy are perhaps less revealing than the manner in which Egede presented his narrative [52]. His language, for example, was laden with comparisons between the familiar and the unfamiliar in a way that would support the external reader in deciphering and imagining the scale of the creature (like a whale, like a serpent, reached the yard arm.) ...
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The pages of early modern natural histories expose the plasticity of the natural world, and the variegated nature of the encounter between human and animal in this period. Descriptions of the flora and fauna reflect this kind of negotiated encounter between the world that is seen, that which is heard about, and that which is constructed from the language of the sacred text of scripture. The natural histories of Greenland that form the basis of this analysis exemplify the complexity of human–animal encounters in this period, and the intersections that existed between natural and unnatural, written authority and personal testimony, and culture, belief, and ethnography in natural histories. They invite a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which animals and people interact in the making of culture, and demonstrate the contribution made by such texts to the study of animal encounters, cultures, and concepts. This article explores the intersection between natural history and the work of Christian mission in the eighteenth century, and the connections between personal encounter, ethnography, history, and oral and written tradition. The analysis demonstrates that European natural histories continued to be anthropocentric in content and tone, the product of what was believed, as much as what was seen.
... It is not known if all the reports are truthful or indeed necessarily of living things or animals. Nor can it be known if the witnesses have interpreted anatomy correctly (e.g., Paxton, Knatterud, & Hedley 2005). Exposed and admitted hoaxes or absolutely known misidentifications were omitted from the dataset. ...
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Little work has been undertaken on the consistency/repeatability of reports of natural historical anomalies. Such information is useful in understanding the reporting process associated with such accounts and distinguishing any underlying biological signal. Here we used intraclass correlation as a measure of consistency in descriptions of a variety of quantitative features from a large collection of firsthand accounts of apparently unknown aquatic animals (hereafter "monsters") in each of two different cases. In the first case, same observer, same encounter (sose), the correlation was estimated from two different accounts of the same event from the same witness. In the second case, the correlation was between two different observers of the same event (dose). Overall, levels of consistency were surprisingly high, with length of monster, distance of monster to the witness, and duration of encounter varying between 0.63 and 1. Interestingly, there was no evidence that sose accounts generally had higher consistency than dose accounts.
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In 1881 George Drevar, a merchant captain who had survived a shipwreck in the Cape Verde Islands, was tried at the Old Bailey for libel and threatening the life of the Commissioner of Wreck, Henry Cadogan Rothery, in part because of a disagreement over the existence of the great sea serpent. This article explains the background to the trial, including Drevar’s own sea serpent sightings, the trial’s eventual outcome and some later related events in Drevar’s life. Drevar’s actions seem to have been driven by mental illness caused by the stress of shipwreck coupled with a fervent religiosity with regard to the sea serpent.
Article
As many sightings of purported sea-serpents are now recognized to have been misidentified cetaceans, this anecdotal literature can provide a valuable resource for extending inferences about whale biology backward in time. For example, a re-interpretation of the 1857 sighting of a “sea-serpent” seen off Cape Town suggests that the unidentified marine object was probably an animal, likely a cetacean, observed entangled in fishing gear or other maritime debris. This is one of the earliest cases of pre-plastic entanglement, and suggests the problem has a much longer environmental history than what is commonly believed.
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Eyewitness reports and cultural representations have been interpreted by some researchers to suggest the existence of a large, long-bodied marine vertebrate in the northeast Pacifi c. Dubbed “Caddy” or “Cadborosaurus” (after Cadboro Bay, British Columbia), it was formally named and described as Cadborosaurus willsi by Bousfi eld and LeBlond in 1995. Among the supposedly most informative accounts is the alleged 1968 capture of a juvenile by William Hagelund, detailed in his 1987 book Whalers No More. Reportedly morphologically similar to adult “Cadborosaurs,” the specimen was comparatively tiny, and apparently precocial. Bousfield and LeBlond argue that this strongly supports their contention that “Caddy” is reptilian (juvenile reptiles are typically precocial, recalling “miniature adults” in both behavior and morphology). Anomalous traits suggest some degree of misrecollection in Hagelund’s account, furthermore a quantitative analysis of the similarity of 14 candidate identities with the specimen indicates that it most strongly resembles the bay pipefi sh (Syngnathus leptorhynchus)—far more so than a cryptid or reptile. While this detracts from the plausibility of the cryptid, the reidentification of this particular specimen does not discount the data as a whole nor does it suggest that all “Caddy” reports are necessarily of known fish. We contend that the “reptilian hypothesis” does, however, need to be seriously re-examined in light of the removal of a strong piece of evidence.
Article
Large extant marine vertebrates continue to be discovered and described: during the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, several cetaceans and chondrichthyans exceeding three metres in total length have been described, including the megamouth shark, Omura's whale, Bandolero (or Peruvian or Lesser) beaked whale, and Perrin's beaked whale. Statistical methods have been employed by several workers in an effort to estimate the number of such species that remain to be described, and results indicate that between 10 and c. 50 such species remain. Here, we examine the description record of the pinnipeds using non-linear and logistic regression models in an effort to determine how many members of this group might remain undescribed. Regression based on a Michaelis–Menten function suggests that as many as 15 such species remain, whilst logistic regression suggests a far lower number (closer to 0). We combine these approaches with an evaluation of cryptozoological data, as ethnozoological evidence suggests the existence of several large-bodied marine vertebrates that have been interpreted by some authors as unusual pinnipeds. These include the so called ‘long-necked sea-serpent’, ‘merhorse’ and ‘tizhurek’. Because cryptozoological data are mostly discussed in the ‘grey literature’, appraisals of these cryptids have never appeared in the mainstream literature, perpetuating a cycle whereby these putative animals remain unevaluated.
Article
The gray whale (. Eschrichtius robustus) is the only living species in the family Eschrichtiidae. It is a slow-moving sturdy mysticete, slimmer than right whales and stockier than most rorquals. It attains a maximum length of 15.3 m (50 ft) and its skin is mottled light to dark gray with whitish blotches and heavily infested with barnacles and cyamids, or " whale lice, " especially on the head. Instead of a dorsal fin, the back has a hump followed by a series of fleshy knobs, or " knuckles" along the tailstock. The behavioral ecology of the gray whale is unique among mysticetes, as it is the most coastal; makes the longest migration; calves in warm bays, lagoons, and coastal areas; and is an intermittent suction feeder that regularly forages on benthos, apart from feeding opportunistically on plankton and nekton by gulping and skimming. Once found throughout the Northern Hemisphere, the gray whale became extinct in the Atlantic and now is a relict species confined to the productive neritic and estuarine waters of the North Pacific Ocean and adjacent waters of the Arctic Ocean. The eastern population (also called the American , California , or Chukchi stock) occurs in the eastern North Pacific and Amerasian Arctic Oceans, whereas the remnant western population (also called the Asian , Korean , or Okhotsk stock ) occurs in the western North Pacific (off Asia). The western gray whale is now a remnant population close to extinction that occurs off Russia, Japan, Korea, and China and is one of the most critically endangered populations of whales.
Chapter
This chapter discusses the hydrodynamics of nonscombroid fish. Biologists and hydrodynamicists have taken different approaches to the problem of how fish swim and the calculation of thrust and power required. The traditional biological approach to the mechanics of fish swimming has not led to satisfactory quantitative solutions. The hydrodynamic approach has led to numerous models amenable to quantitative solution, but these have largely been neglected by biologists. Recent hydromechanical models have led to generalizations on the mechanical importance of variation in body and fin morphology. Concerted efforts to rectify the two approaches have recently begun, which include biological approach and hydromechanical approach. In nonscombroid fish, the pressure in the water decreases up to the shoulder and subsequently increases toward the trailing edge. The former pressure change results in a favorable pressure gradient increasing in the direction of mean flow. The basic mechanical assumption of the rigid-body analogy is that the flow around a swimming flexing fish is mechanically equivalent to that around an equivalent rigid body. There is currently no evidence to support this assumption, while the scant data available tend to refute the assumption.
American pelagic whaling for right whales in the North Atlantic
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