CapeCodHistory home
main documents
natural history
posted Jan 2007


B. A. Colonna
Science 8 (189):258. 17 Sep 1886
American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Sea-Serpent

    With this please find an extract from an official report by Capt. Robert Platt, assistant coast and geodetic survey, with accompanying sketch of a 'sea-monster' seen by him near Cape Cod in October, 1878. Captain Platt is a trained observer, whose daily occupation at that time was to record just what he saw, and nothing more or less. I know Captain Platt so well that I have never doubted the existence of such a monster from the time his report was made known to me ; and, if others have been sceptical, I hope that recent events have proven the matter beyond question. [Extract from a report by Capt. Robert Platt, U. S. coast and geodetic survey, to the superintendent; written on board, the U. S. coast-survey schooner Drift, Oct. 25, 1878.]

    " I would also beg leave to state that Aug. 29, while becalmed off Race Point, Cape Cod, about four hundred yards from the vessel, we saw a sea-monster, or what I suppose has been called a sea-serpent. Its first appearance was that of a very large round spar two or three feet in diameter, from twelve to fifteen feet high, standing upright in the sea, but in a few minutes it made a curve and went down. It was visible about three minutes ; the second appearance, about half an hour after the first, the monster came out of the water about twenty-five feet, then extended to about thirty-five or forty feet, and about three feet in diameter ; when out about forty feet, it curved and went down, and as it did so a sharp dorsal fin of about fifteen feet in length came up. This fin was connected to this monster, for the whole animal moved off with the same velocity. I looked at it with a good pair of glasses. I could not tell whether it had a mouth or eyes ; it was of a brownish color. I enclose to you a rough sketch made by me, and submitted to all on board who saw the animal, and they all agree that it is a fair representation of the animal as it appeared."                           B. A. Colonna.

U. S. coast survey, Sept. 4.

sea serpent


Samuel Lockwood.
Science 7 (162): 242. 12 Mar 1886

Apropos to Pteranodon and Homo.

    Professor Holder's explanation that the human figure was simply put with Pteranodon for the sake of comparison of size, reminds me that some years ago I got from the cretaceous deposit of my neighborhood enough fossil material to diagnose a new species of reptile, which, although with powerful paddles, was almost pythonic in structure, and warranted the belief that the animal was hardly less than twenty-five feet long. As an Irish digger had struck upon the relics, and the too general habit is to destroy rather than save these finds, I succeeded in enthusing the laborers by drawing a restoration of this "sea-serpent," to their amazement. This the boss digger had framed and suspended in his cottage. To my sorrow, the thing made me famous, for it became so much talked about that reporters came from the great city. A pictorial journal sent an artist, who borrowed my crude sketch, and elaborated it under his own conceptions. Judge of my surprise when, with full credit to my name, the said journal ap peared with an account of the resurrected ancient sea-serpent, and an engraving of the same, sporting in the ocean, and in the distance a three masted ship in full sail! As in Professor Holder's case, there was no explanation given that the ship "was introduced in the cut to give people some idea of the size of the animal."
Samuel Lockwood.
Freehold. N.J., March 5.