Saturday 5 June 2010

The strange tale of the Hilbre creature

Hilbre is an island in the Dee estuary, between the Wirral Peninsula and Wales. It's accessible on foot when the tide is low. It is not unknown for people to get stranded there when they don’t take notice of the tidal times. It is mainly visited because of the seal population and the wildlife that can be spotted.
I came across this strange story about the island:
The first report comes from a 13-year-old named Susan Rogers, who was visiting Hilbre Island in the winter of 1954 with her 18-year-old cousin Tina Jones. Susan had a row with Tina on the island and ran off to hide. Tina looked for her cousin and shouted out to her, warning that the tide would soon be coming in and the island would be cut off from the mainland. Susan went sulking into the Ladie's Cave' on the island as the rain-laden skies turned gloomy. Susan was gazing out from the cave to see if Tina was looking for her - when she heard a rattling sound. Something touched the girl's bare ankle. She looked down and saw what looked like a dark brown length of cane covered with bristles, quivering between her sandals. She spun round in fright and saw something horrifying. A huge crustacean creature, about four feet high and six feet wide, was standing on four, perhaps even six jointed legs. It was grey and clad in segmented shells. The most frightening thing about it was the pair of huge blood-red eyes. Susan almost fainted with fear. The bristled cane' prodded at her skirt, and was one of two antennae attached to the head of the monstrosity. It's mouth opened and closed with a rattling sound and it's legs clicked as it lunged forward. Susan leaped from the cave mouth and landed on the rocks below with a sprained ankle. She still couldn't scream, and almost blacked out twice as she scrambled across the beach, because she could hear the rattling sound in the distance. Tina found her in a sorry state on all fours, and shuddered when Susan told her about the thing' in the cave.
The unknown shelled creature was allegedly seen on several more occasions at Hilbre Island in the 1960s, and there is even one report of a similar creature being washed ashore on Parkgate Promenade during a fierce storm in the late 1940s. Men delivering beer to a waterfront pub said the crab-like creature was some seven feet in length, and it kicked furiously on its back until a wave crashed over the promenade and righted it. The scary creature then crawled back into the sea.

I have been unable to find out any more about this giant crab like creature. The story may of course be an urban myth. It is not the first strange thing to be seen in that area though.A creature with a long neck with a greyish green body was allegedly seen chasing a baby whale near Hilbre Island in 1901.In the mid 1960s, two men onboard the Liverpool to Dublin Ferry spotted a similar  long necked creature moving at 30 knots through the waters of Liverpool Bay. Both men were seasoned mariners but they were  not taken seriously  and accused by being drunk.

If the crab creature existed , what could it be? One possibility is a Red king crab. They  can grow quite  large, sometimes reaching a leg span of  6 feet (1.8 metres).   It is an invasive species in the Barents Sea being introduced I believe by Russia in it’s waters as a food source. Local fishermen say the crab eats everything it comes across and is posing a threat. It has spread westwards along the Norwegian coast but has not reached the UK yet. It could have been an odd specimen washed here in a storm but it seems unlikely in the 1940’s and 50’s. It may of courses have been some deep sea creature washed up and stranded that was unknown at the time. It is still an odd story and if anyone has any ideas or knows anything about this please post a comment.


M S said...

Great Scot! I used to sunbathe nude on Hilbre Island.
As I do not have any bristly appendages that rattle when I'm angry, I am officially ruling myself out of any future ID parade.

Tabitca said...