Myth Monday: Attack of the Killer Sea Globsters
Myth Monday: Attack of the Killer Sea Globsters
It came from the briny deep! More specifically, this time it emerged out of the Bering Sea, washing up on the shores of Siberia—a large, lumpy, white, furry formless mound of … something … with a tentacle-like appendage stretching out beside it. It didn’t look like the remains of any animal known to man, with no discernible shape, no flippers, no tail, no apparent head, and covered in white fur—and not to mention stinking to high hell. It was clearly a dead animal, but what was it? Could it be a giant octopus? A colossal squid? The decaying corpse of a fuzzy sea serpent?
The thing found in Siberia on August 15, 2018 is just one in a long line of globsters—a term coined in 1962 by famous cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson to describe any large lump of flesh that washes up out of the ocean that has no obvious resemblance to any known animal (also known as blobsters). These unidentified sea-going carcasses are usually first discovered by an average person (that is, somebody who isn’t educated in marine biology) who is out for a stroll on the beach. The discoverer understandably has no idea what the formless, often huge mass of flesh is and, more often than not, they soon come to the conclusion that they are looking at the dead body of some kind of sea serpent.
Hate to break it to everybody, but of the globsters that have been found, recorded and tested since the early 1800s or so, not a single one of them has proven to be a sea monster … or, at least, that’s what they want you to believe, but that’s a topic for another blog. Anyway, almost every globster that has been discovered has been proven to be the blubber from a decaying whale, the remains of a dead shark (often a basking shark), and, on occasion, parts from a dead giant octopus or squid. Sometimes the globsters will still have jaws, beaks or flippers attached, but the subsequent rotting of the animal’s flesh alters the appearance, leading witnesses to believe—and quite stubbornly so—that what they’re looking at is not the body of a dead porpoise, it’s the body of a dead sea monster.
Here’s a case in point: on April 25, 1977, off the coast of New Zealand, the Japanese fishing trawler Zuiyo Maru snagged something big in one of their nets. Unsure of what it was, the crew pulled the thing up onto the deck and were beside themselves with shock when they saw it: it looked like the rotting body of a dead plesiosaur! The crew managed to take a few pictures of the thing and obtained a few samples, but it smelled so ungodly that they were forced to throw it back rather than have it contaminate their fish. Now, when I first saw those pictures when I was like ten or so years old, I was 100% certain that this thing was an honest-to-God sea monster. I mean, look at it (here, because it’s copyrighted and I don’t have permission)! It looks just like the sea serpents you would see in books in movies. How could it not be?
Well, there’s like a 99.99999% chance that it’s not a sea monster. Without a body to examine to be absolutely sure, there will always be some doubt, but what you’re looking at in this picture is very likely the remains of a dead basking shark. Weirdly, when basking sharks and similar animals die and decay, they tend to break down in a similar way, leaving their bodies to look as though they were long-necked sea serpents in life. It’s highly likely that the discovery of these corpses back in ancient and medieval times prompting people to believe that there were long-necked sea monsters out there, waiting for them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ruling the possibility of sea monsters out entirely, but we have to look at the facts before we jump to conclusions.
But what about the reports of white fur? Well, I’m not a biologist and I haven’t seen a “real live” globster up close and in person, but my guess is that it’s just the fraying remains of blubber or fat, coming apart due to a combination of rot and scavenging sea animals—hey, these bodies have probably been floating around for weeks before coming ashore, it’s not like a bunch of fish, sharks and seagulls are going to pass up the opportunity for a floating buffet. Also, newborn whales and dolphins are born with fur, but they lose it shortly after birth. Maybe it’s possible that every now and again a cetacean grows up still retaining its fur, but it’s highly unlikely.
But then again … there have been sightings of unidentified sea-going creatures that appear to have fur, the most famous likely being Trunko.
The creature known as Trunko was sighted off the coast of South Africa in October of 1924 and reported in London’s Daily Mail the following December. Witnesses claimed to see a furry, snow-white whale-like creature with an elephantine trunk fighting with two killer whales for about three hours, using its tail to fend them off and apparently raising itself about twenty feet out of the water. One of the witnesses, a farmer named Hugh Ballance, said it looked like a “giant polar bear” … except for, you know, the trunk. (And I know what you’re thinking, NO, it WASN’T Tuunbaq from The Terror.)
Apparently, the beast succumbed to injuries from the battle and washed ashore, where it laid for about ten days but was never examined by researchers. About four photos were taken of the thing, but it seems they weren’t discovered until September 2010. Furthermore, the body was left on the beach so long that the tide eventually carried it back out sea, and nothing like it has been reported since. People who saw the body have differed on their accounts a bit, with some saying it had a trunk, others saying that it had a pig nose, and a few claiming it had a tail like a lobster. There were disagreements on the actual date of the orca vs. sea monster battle as well, though the recovered photographs were dated as being taken in July 1925. Karl Shuker, another big name in cryptozoology and apparently the guy who actually christened the creature “Trunko,” examined the photographs and concluded that the globster in question was just whale blubber, and suggested what the witnesses had actually seen was just two orcas maowing down on a dead whale.
One thing’s for certain, whether the globsters are known animals or not, they’re appearing with increasing frequency all over the world. This past August it was Siberia. In 2017 globsters appeared in two different places in the Philippines and on Seram Island. In 2003 a globster appeared in Chile, one showed up in Newfoundland in 2001, and from 1990 to 1997 four different globsters washed up in Scotland, Bermuda, Nantucket and Tasmania. Maybe we should be less concerned with what these things are and more concerned with what’s going on with our oceans.