Monday 31 December 2012

Is the Altamaha river creature a snake or a fish?

The Altamaha river Creature ....The Altamaha-ha
There is said to be a creature living in the Altamaha river . The South Georgia coast is characterised by tiny islands, canals, waterways, deep rivers, and lots of inter-crossing creeks and streams. The Tama , indigenous natives to the area, told stories about the animal. According to Jim Miles in Weird Georgia, "Centuries ago, the Tama Indians first told tales of a huge water serpent that hissed and bellowed." The creature is called Altamaha ha, also known as Altie.”
The Altamaha-ha inhabits the Altamaha River and the surrounding waterways and marshes. This creature has been claimed to  be seen stranded on the banks of the river, trying to free itself frantically, and has also been observed cavorting on the surface. Some have said it approached them in a menacing way and even attacked a boat. It has been described as having a horizontal tail, like that of a porpoise, which moves up-and-down. It’s size is estimated  to be around 20 feet (6/7 metres) long. There have been some smaller creatures seen which are presumed to be youngsters and about 6 feet (2 metres )long. In appearance the creature is said to look somewhere between an alligator, an eel, and a dolphin, with large, protruding eyes and a pronounced alligator-like snout armed with large conical teeth. It has a serrated ridge across the back, like a series of small dorsal fins next to each other, and a true dorsal fin which is rather low. It is very elongated, grey on top and a white underbelly. There are said to be 350 sightings recorded.
In the 1920s, timbermen who rode the river reported sighting a creature , they described as a snake monster.
In 1935, a group of hunters spotted what they called a "giant snake" swim through the river.
A Boy Scout troop from the 1940s reported sighting a creature
In the 1950’s two officials from the Reidsville State Prison reported seeing a strange creature.
Then there is this from 1969:
On a night in July 1969 , Donny Manning and his brother embarked on his boat on the Altamaha River at Clark’s Bluff. The lights on the house boat allowed them to see for some distance. Fishing for catfish, Donny decided to use an old trick he had learned as a kid which was oatmeal and soda mixed on a three pronged hook. They were fishing in a little depression outside the rough water when something took the hook. It did not act like a regular catfish after a catch. Most catfish would take the hook, run and stop, and turn; instead it ran with the hook. Every once in a while it would come out of the water where they could see it. They say it measured about ten to twelve feet long and at first they thought it resembled a sturgeon, but after a few more jumps, they could tell it wasn’t. Donny claims it had a snout almost like an alligator, or, he thought, of a duck-billed platypus. He says it had a horizontal tail, instead of a fish like vertical one, and it also had a spiny kind of bony triangular ridge along the top of its body. The dorsal fin that was down, but he could see it on the back. The teeth were shining in the light were sharp pointed. The Creature was gun-metal gray on the top and oyster white-yellow on the bottom. It didn’t move along side to side like a snake either, but it moved up and down like a dolphin.” Mr. Manning says he has lived on the water all his life and has seen all kinds of creatures, but this was the most amazing thing he had ever seen. He also claims he was using a salt water rig with a 40 lb. test line and the creature snapped it like it was nothing. Mr. Manning estimates from the way it felt on the line and the way that it snapped it that it was at least 75 lbs.

During the summer of 1980 Andy Greene and Barry Prescott reportedly saw Altamaha-ha stranded on a mud bank near Cathead Creek. The creature lay halfway in the water, thrashing and trying to free itself from the bank. They described it as a dark coloured, with a rough skin and that it moved like nothing they had ever seen before. The creature was very large, three to four feet thick (1 metre) and twenty feet long( 6/7 metres). They observed the creature for ten minutes, before it freed itself, submerged, and disappeared.
In December of 1980 Larry Gwin spotted what he thought was Altamaha-ha in Smith Lake, located up the Altamaha River, while eel fishing. He described the creature as  fifteen to twenty feet( 5-7 metres) long and snake-like, with two brown humps that protruded from the water. It disappeared and did not resurface. The creature was spotted several more times in the early 1980s, particularly near Two-Way Fish camp. One eyewitness, Ralph Dewitt, a crab fisherman of fourteen years, described Altamaha-ha as "the world's biggest eel".
One of the most recent reports was from 2002 when a man who was pulling a boat up the river near Brunswick reported seeing something over twenty feet(7 metres) in length and six feet wide( 2 metres) break the water. The man reported that the animal seemed to emerge from the water to get air and then submerge again beneath the depths.
The story is popular in the McIntosh and Glynn County areas, which both border the Altamaha River. The local newspaper , The Darien News has covered the story several times . 

I can’t help thinking the description sounds like an alligator Gar. I may be wrong of course and some snake /eel like creature of an unknown species is still waiting to be discovered.

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