Posted by: Loren Coleman on October 28th, 2006
What is to be made of the recent reports of river-dwelling manatees and now a dolphin? Have some of these known species been misidentified as cryptids in the past? Well, yes, they probably have been.
First, let me share a mention of the newest account. Reporter Elizabeth Ratto of the Boston Globe writes that a “common dolphin” was sighted on Friday, October 27, 2006:
…swimming in the Fore River, just outside the Braintree Yacht Club, until it exited Boston Harbor with high tide around 3 p.m., according to Tony LaCasse, spokesman for the New England Aquarium.
The aquarium was alerted that the dolphin was in the river late in the morning and volunteer biologists were able to observe the 7-foot-long and roughly 200 pound dolphin from a yacht club float.
The news organization noted that the last time a dolphin was reported in Boston Harbor was in 2004.
This incident follows this summer’s Hudson River, New York sightings of an “out of place” (OOP) manatee nicknamed by the media, Tappie. Jokes about it being the “Loch Ness Monster,” as you will recall, were part of the reportage at the time.
October 2006 saw another OOP report from the Mississippi River’s Mud Island Harbor of sightings of a manatee. It was even photographed (see above), putting to rest any doubt about the reality of the “Memphis Manatee”.
As one recent commentator shared here, when pondering the Memphis event: “Hmm makes you wonder if this is actually a more common occurrence and we just don’t see manatees or misidentify them other times. Maybe there are many ‘lake monsters’ that are in fact manatees that have swam up river.”
I would agree wholeheartedly without going overboard, but, yes, this is one of the cautions that comes to mind for most cryptozoologists investigating Lake and River Monsters.
Indeed, Patrick Huyghe and I looked to a manatee to explain a frequently reported cryptid from a lake in South America. In The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep (page 188), we wrote: “Bolivia’s 12-foot ‘Lake Titicaca Seal,’ seen mostly around the Copacabana peninsula and the Strait of Tiquina, is most probably a form of the Amazon Manatee (Trichechus inunguis), the only exclusively freshwater form of Sirenian.”
OOP animals, I have always felt, need to be tracked as the possible sources of some explanations for a few cryptids. Even the out-of-place alligators….