The day a sea monster 'half-mermaid half-whale' washed up on Porthleven beach
Villagers 'could see no legs to it, but it appeared to crawl on its belly, raising its body at times a little from the sand'Some described it as having a human-like head on a 48ft body. Others said it could be a mermaid. One thing is certain, something washed up on Porthleven beach long ago and it terrified the villagers.The hair-raising event happened on September 14, 1786, during a violent storm.Two local boys were running around Porthleven beach, looking for shipwrecks, when they discovered an 'enormous' creature.The story was shared upcountry in the old weekly newspaper Hereford Journal in October of the same year. It was reported by a man from Cornwall who related how villagers slew the unknown beast.
Called 'Sea Monster', the article reads: "A just and particular description of a very curious and most surprising sea monster driven on shore in Portleaven Bay (sic), on the coast of Cornwall, on the 14th of Sept. 1786, by the strong westerly winds and tempestuous weather, which continued to a violent degree for several days successively, and did much damage at that place and neighbourhood.
"This monster was first discovered by two boys who (agreeable to the custom of that place) went in search of wreck soon after day break; and as they stood on the cliff which commanded a prospect of a small sandy cove, they, at a distance of about a mile, discovered something of enormous hulk near the shore, and which after a short time they apprehended to be the side or part of an unfortunate ship which had the preceding night been broken to pieces by the extremities of the shore.
"They immediately went towards the place with sanguine expectation of great success, and as they approached the spot (the breaking waves at times leaving it dry) they were both struck with the utmost consternation to perceive such motions as it was something which had life." Terrified, the boys ran towards a group of men they knew and told them what they had witnessed.The men did not believe them at first, but eventually decided to follow them and see the monster for themselves."A great number of people soon collected themselves into a body, and determined to go armed, some with large sticks and pokers, others with hatchets, spits, etc, which was, after some deliberation, carried into execution," the article reports."On their coming near the spot they perceived it to be something living, as was represented, and it raised its head, which had not before been perceived, and appeared to direct its course towards them. All were alarmed – some stood their ground, others possessed of greater fear turned back, they could see no legs to it, but it appeared to crawl on its belly, raising its body at times a little from the sand." No one knew what the animal was."Various were the opinions about this creature; some said it was a mermaid, others a whale – but the greater number disbelieving the existence of the former, and adhering to the improbability of the latter, they were all equally at a loss," the story reports.
"When it was agreed to examine what it was, they all went towards it, and after an hour’s beating, stabbing it, etc, it expired with a groan. Its length was found to be from the top of its head to the end of its tail, 48 feet to inches, and its circumference in the largest part of the body 24 feet and a half. Its head was large, and prickly in the hinder part, and not formed much unlike that of a man; its eyes were greenish; its mouth large; its nose flat, and from its neck to the navel, resembling nearest to the human kind; its back was hard and more difficult to penetrate than the shell of a turtle; it had two short fore feet, formed like the paw of a monkey, and its hinder parts shaped measured full seven feet in width at the extent, and but five feet long."
It is not known what was done with the body of the creature, or if anyone studied it."It is supposed a large quantity of oil will be produced from it, which, with the shell of its back, and its fins, are judged, if properly managed, to be of great value, and will be of considerable benefit to this neighbourhood," the Cornish man who sent the article added."No one that has seen it knows its name, nor has any monster like it ever been described in record, or come within the knowledge of this kingdom."
The description of the strange creature sounds very similar to a spooky sea serpent many have spotted in the Cornish waters over the years. Called Morgawr, it is said to slither its way through the sea and live off Falmouth Bay.Described as a long-necked beast with dark skin and humps on its back, it has been - reportedly - seen several times in the last 140 years.
You can read about Morgawr here: https://cryptozoo-oscity.blogspot.com/2013/09/is-there-cornish-sea-serpent.html
What was it? Sounds like an Elephant Seal.It could ,of course, be an unknown creature but without sketches/diagrams it is impossible to know.
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