Saturday 31 July 2010

Nessie in Devon?

A LOCH NESS monster-type creature has been snapped at sea off Paignton — just days after the sighting of a sperm whale in Tor Bay.The mysterious Plesiosaur-like creature was spotted just 30 yards off shore by locals who reported a sighting of what they first thought was a turtle.But pictures taken by one of the baffled witnesses reveal its neck may be far too long for any known sea turtle.A sperm whale was also been seen in the bay last week, but the description of the Paignton creature does not match that of the whale.Boffins at the Marine Conservation Society say the creature may be some kind of turtle, but at present it remains unidentified.Gill Pearce photographed the creature following a shoal of fish at Saltern Cove near Paignton at 3.30pm on Tuesday.She at first thought it was a large sea turtle but baffled experts say it doesn't fit the description because the greenish-brown beast with a small reptile head has too long a neck.Mrs Pearce reported her sighting to the Marine Conservation Society where it was studied by sea life experts.Peter Richardson, MCS biodiversity programme manager, said that the creature may be a leatherback or green turtle which are known to visit coastal waters in the South West.But the creature did not match the usual description of such creatures.Mr Richardson said: "At the moment it's an unidentified mystery creature and we don't know what it is."Two people have reported seeing a creature about three metres long with a small head on a two-and-a-half foot neck."From the photographs it looks like it could be a basking shark and the tail fin could have been mistaken for a head but the people who saw it said it had large flippers and was about the size of a sea lion."It would be great to find out what it is so we are asking people in the area to look out for it."Asked if it could have been a rare sighting of the Loch Ness monster, Mr Richardson replied: "That would not be my official explanation."The MCS said the mystery creature was reported to be chasing a shoal of mackerel when it was first spotted part of which was said to be so scared it swam in to the shallows close to shore to escape.Another eyewitness Graham Oxley, 63, from Paignton, was also just as baffled.He said: "I went down to the beach with my dog and I saw what I thought was a turtle."I saw a black dome which was more rounded than a turtle's shell and its head kept popping out of the water every five minutes."It seemed to lurk over some weeds in about four foot of water for around half an hour."The semi-retired electrician rushed home to get his camera but when he returned the creature was swimming away."That was when I realised it wasn't a turtle at all," he said."What I thought was the shell was actually the creature's back and it seemed to change colour like a chameleon."When it was in the shade it was a black colour and then when it swam off it changed to a greeny-brown."It seemed to camouflage itself."That's probably why not many people have spotted them."It was standing feeding on the weeds and had its back arched."My eyesight is perfect, I don't drink and I'm not on drugs."Just six days previously angler Trevor Smart, of Leicestershire, reckons he spotted a sperm whale, first seen in Tor Bay at the end of June.Mr Smart, who was staying on his boat in Torquay harbour, had gone out fishing early on July 21 when he says the creature surfaced near him in flat calm conditions a quarter of mile from shore.He said: "I was totally enthralled. I don't think I would have seen it if the sea hadn't been so flat. I hadn't got a clue what it was."I have visited this area since the early 1960s and fished all my life, seeing dolphins and basking sharks and other sea life in our seas, but I've never seen anything like this."The marine conservation charity Sea Watch sightings officer Gemma Veneruso said: "We do have some concerns that it might strand itself."Sperm whales feed on deep sea squid and fish close to the edge of the continental shelf in the North Atlantic but rarely come into shallow waters."It is very rare for a sperm whale to travel as far east as this in the Channel and to come so close to shore."Meanwhile, the unexplained creature is causing a stir on the MCS website where theories range from sea serpent to salt water crocodile.An MCS spokesman said: "It was reported as a turtle but was also said to have a small head on a thin neck about two feet long which craned above the surface like a Plesiosaur. It's described as being as long as a sea lion with a long neck. This is not a fake."

 posted by J on behalf of tabitca. She thought you wouldn't want to miss this!The summer silly season has started .

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