We’d Like to Report a Sea Serpent…

To the Editor of the Connaught Journal:
From the Quebec Trader, off South Islands of Arran, Galway Bay, Feb. 8, 1827.

SIR – Having this favorable opportunity of transmitting to you the following wonderful occurrence, which may be the means of setting to rest all doubts as to the existence of a marine monster, supposed to be the Sea Serpent, I readily do so, particularly as I have so many respectable witnesses to support me in the truth of what we saw.

Being bound from Rhode Island for Liverpool, on yesterday morning, the south Islands of Arran, came in sight, 30 milers east. We at the same time discovered, about two miles ahead, a vessel, seemingly a wreck, not having a spar or rope standing. On nearing, I ordered the gig and six men to board her; and was shortly after hailed by the mate, who was one of the party, for assistance, they pulling from the wreck with all possible speed.

I hove the Quebec to the wind, and presently learned that Thomas Wilson, being the first to board, was instantly devoured by a most horrible animal, the like of which they had never seen or heard of.

By this time the wreck was driven to about a cable length of our stern from which I could plainly and distinctly see a monster of the serpent kind, lying partly coiled upon the deck, its head erected about four feet, and its hind part in the hatches, the hat of poor Thomas lying close alongside it. The surprise and consternation which struck all on board deprived us of the though of planning any mode for its capture, was such a thing possible, the thought of our unfortunate companion filling us with horror.

However, I fired a shot from a six pounder, which unluckily could not be brought to bear sufficiently high. It struck the hull, at the same moment the animal raised its head, body and tail, in six or seven folds, to the height of a man each; its eyes were large, of a red colour, and much distorted; its throat and neck larger than any other part, of a bright green hue, as were its body and sides, and the back black and scaly. It had ears or fins suspended near the head, similar to an eel, and on the nostrils a horny excrescence, blunt and about 18 inches long; its chops were broad and flat.

Whilst I was preparing a second salute with ball and slugs, it glided majestically into the sea, gave a splash with its tail, and disappeared. Shortly after, myself, John Adams, mate, Mr. William Nightingale, and Mr. Robert Crocker, passengers, boarded her, and with grief had our foreboding for the fate of Wilson verified, he being no where to be found; the vessel was water logged, and in a sinking state; a substance of a tar like nature, but highly corrosive, as it blistered the hands upon taking it up, was upon the deck, some of which has been preserved; it is supposed to be the excrement of the animal.

Our conjecture is that the monster being attracted by the bodies of the sufferers in the wreck, had taken up its abode there, and devoured them. We consider its length to be about 60 feet, and its girth from 8 to 12 feet.

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,


We, the undersigned, certify the truth of the above.

ROBERT CROKER, Passengers.

P.S. Mr. Crocker having occasion to proceed to Dublin, chooses that route for going to Liverpool, and will be the bearer of this statement. T.C.

Source: Freedom’s Journal
Date: 1827-06-08
Title: Sea Serpent

Extra Context on Sea Serpents

Reports of sea serpents in the North Atlantic precede this  report by centuries and were part of common sailing lore.

Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus (better known as History of the Northern Peoples) was a monumental work by Olaus Magnus on the Nordic countries, and printed in Rome 1555. It was a work which long remained for the rest of Europe the authority on Swedish matters. Its popularity increased by the numerous woodcuts of people and their customs, amazing the rest of Europe. It is still today a valuable repertory of much curious information in regard to Scandinavian customs and folk-lore. The woodcutting below could be found in the first edition.

A sea serpent from Olaus Magnus's book History of the Northern Peoples (1555)

A sea serpent from Olaus Magnus’s book History of the Northern Peoples (1555)

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

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