You’re fishing the long Island Sound on your boat near Port Jeff with your buddy. It’s getting towards sunset and it’s time to call it a day. The water shines with red highlights and you have a few fish aboard. Your buddy is pulling up the last fish of the day when the water begins to wildly swirl around your boat. A giant “What the f--- is that” surfaces and a giant black saucer eye focuses on both of you. Then this huge serpent scoops your friend off the deck faster than he can mutter “Holy S—t”!
Back in port you are interviewed by the police, marine patrol, Coast Guard and attend a hearing. It doesn’t help that your friend owed you some big bucks, which you brought up many times in text messages to him. He also never knew you were having a torrid affair with his wife Alice, who holds a $5 million dollar Insurance policy on him! You wonder if you will end up on Dateline as a murder suspect.
Sea Monsters; are they fact, fiction, misidentification, or BS stories? Perhaps they are a bit of all of those. At this time, I give you fair warning: If you are a squeamish boater, perhaps you should just watch Gilligan’s Island or Antiques Roadshow, rather than continuing to read this and not let your imagination fester and lose sleep.
When the coasts were settled by Europeans, Native Americans shared stories of monsters they encountered when fishing, shellfish gathering, and whaling along the coasts of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and New England. Many monsters were also brought to life in illustations on the maps of that time.
Regular reporting of sea monster encounters in the New World started in 1638 when the first newspapers were published. The east coast of Colonial America existed through sea trade and the more the oceans were crossed, the more tales of beasts rose from the depths. Every sailor brought home another gruesome monster tale to scare and impress.
New Netherland, 1652 - “ Jan Van Hoot is holding court at the “Battery Spirits and Rooming House” telling a blood curdling tale of surviving an attack on the cod fishing grounds by a beast with an enormous mouth filled with sharp curled teeth. The demon attacked and crushed his fishing boat and devoured his crew by shredding them. Van Hoot saved himself by hiding in a wooden barrel and only coming up to gasp for some air. The water was red with the blood of his crewmates. That did it! After 35 years at sea, Jan sought employment as a farmhand in Flatlands Brooklyn”.
All types of sea serpents have been reported along our coasts. They have been the “Go to” sea demons since the Ancient Greek, Phoenician, and Roman galleys ruled the Mediterranean. The sea serpent seemed to be everywhere- attacking ships, grabbing slave rowers, or wrapping themselves around masts to pull down ships, carrying amphora’s filled with wine and olive oil down into the depths. They continue causing havoc to this day.
Pelham N.Y., 2015 - “The infamous City Island Sea Serpent” was spotted by a new boat owner as he practiced his seamanship in the early morning of June 17, with his wife and family. They were eating their bagels when they spotted a sea serpent measuring over 90 feet long. The new captain became hysterical and his children hid in their cushy cabin. The captain's wife took the helm and bravely guided the vessel back to the marina. The boat was put up for sale the next week in Boating World. It was sold at a huge loss two weeks later to a less timid mariner.”
This sea serpent has harassed seafarers on Long Island Sound since Colonial times. It appears every 25 years or so. There has never been a carcass or any other evidence other than descriptions to support additional sightings in Whitestone, Stanford, Huntington and out to Block Island. I can assure you it will appear again perhaps when you are out there on your boat. What will you do???
There have been tales of giant octopus and squid off Long Island’s ocean and sound dating back to the Native Algonquin people who left pictographs on boulders showing canoes being attacked and hurling crews into the air. These monsters have been recorded in all the oceans of the world on medieval maps. They are often described as the “Kraken” which also appears in “Pirates of the Caribbean’’. The Vikings were especially fearful of this beast. In Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues under the Sea” a “Kraken” attacks the Nautilus. Some sailors in recent encounters claim they can be 100 ft. or more with giant black or green eyes and long tentacles.
Three years ago, outside Port Jefferson, the tugboat Four Seasons was making its way down the sound to the General Dynamics Submarine facility at Croton, Conn. It was pulling a barge with eight shipping containers. The captain, Jed Finn’s had a crew of five seamen aboard. As they passed Port Jeff at 2 AM, the lookout noticed the water became turbulent and lit up with phosphorescence. The boat began to rock and suddenly a huge sea creature rose from the depths. Its tentacles flayed about and grabbed two crewmen off the deck. The beast was a whitish and Day-Glo green color that was flashing on and off. Its giant eyes rolled up as it fed on the screaming, struggling victims into its huge beak that made short, bloody work of two of the men. The first mate and other crewman retreated to the wheelhouse with the captain who was frantically radioing the Coast Guard for help. When help arrived, the sea was a dead calm. The wheelhouse was wrecked and glass was all over the deck. The survivors were delirious and holding fire axes that took an hour to pry from their hands. A bloody 12 ft. section of a tentacle was on the deck and still moving. The Coast Guard took the tug and barge in tow to Croton. The captain and two survivors now own operate an Italian Ice Store in Wyoming.
Sharks visit our shores every year and this year has been causing quite a problem on our ocean beaches. There have been aggressive bull sharks close to shore giving surf casters a chance to land some big ones. Beaches have been closed many times due to their sightings in the waters we swim in. Pound for pound the “Bull” is the most aggressive of all sharks. Second to the bulls is the great white, which has also increased in number but generally, stay off the beaches. In 1916 at Long Beach, New Jersey, four people were killed by a rogue bull shark. In deeper waters off Long Island are makos, threshers, duskys, blues, and sand tigers, to note a few. All have to be treated with caution.
New Jersey is also noted as a place to collect petrified “Megaladon Teeth’’, I’ve held them in my palm. One tooth can fill my entire hand. Megalodons lived 3.5 million years ago and were 60-90 ft. long making it the largest, most toothy, badass shark of all time. This creature is the definition of “Monster”. But could some still exist in the oceans and know enough, after millions of years of experience, to stay deep during the day and surface in the night. There have been quite a few alleged sightings and encounters.
In the summer of last year, I left for an overnighter at the shelf due south of Shinnecock Inlet. We arrived at 1 AM and the night and stars were incredible out there. Even the Milky Way performed a show. We were going to start trolling at first light. About 3:30 AM we felt a persistent bumping on the bottom of the hull. We turned on every arc light and looked over the gunnels to see if we could find the culprit. The lights tempted the annoying pest into the light. A black mass moved out of the shadows and into the lights. My boat is 40 ft. but what appeared was much longer with the girth of a submarine. It was a shark unlike any we ever caught. Her mouth was gigantic and when I saw her teeth I yelled: "Megaladon” her mouth was so wide that she got it around the four lower units of my new outboards. She tugged and tugged and we could hear the transom giving way. We began to throw the harpoons, gaffs, rods and boat hooks at her to no avail, Dave ran into the cabin and came out firing his semi automatic AK-47. Nothing worked. We sent out a distress call but we were way out there, too far for an immediate rescue. Our doom was impending facilitated by a beast thought to be extinct! Our lives flashed before us as the transom was ripped off and we went sliding towards the Megaladon’s gaping jaws and palm-sized teeth. I couldn’t believe I was going to die in the jaws of a sea monster!!!
I woke up on the floor of my bedroom covered with sweat. My friends were throwing pebbles at my window to get me up and not disturb my wife Linda. I went downstairs, opened the door, looked them in the eye and said, “Buddies, today's trip is off. The boats staying in the slip. I’m going back to bed.”
You know something? Golf is a really fun sport! I never knew it could be so relaxing. I don’t mind the sand traps at all even though I spend a fair share of my time in them plus I have yet to find a Megaladon’s tooth in them.