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The Gloucester Sea Serpent

The first recorded sighting of a giant sea monster in the Cape Ann area was in 1639. One appeared again in the Gloucester Harbor in 1817. It was described as being between 80 and 100 feet in length and appearing like a “chain of cask”. It was also described as having a “head like a turtle with a long prong”.

“Why?” you may wonder is it featured on a skeptics website? This is because it was investigated in 1917 by the The Linnean Society of New England. This group was begun by a group of distinguished Boston scientists and physicians. At that time Linnean Societies were springing up in major cities all over the world. They were named after Carl Linneaus, the Swedish Botanist, physician and zoologist who is known as the father of modern taxonomy.

The Linneans decided to be very methodical and scientific in collecting information on the Gloucester Sea Monster. People who had seen the Monster answered a list of 25 questions, the testimony was taken down in writing then “after being deliberately read to the person testifying, to be signed by him, and sworn to before a magistrate.”

The Linneans came to the conclusion that a dead snake found on Cape Ann was the progeny of the Sea Serpent. They dubbed it Scioliophis Atlanticus because of the scalloped shape of it’s back. Unfortunately, it was later, determined to be a common Black Snake with a malformation. Yes, they came to dubious conclusions, they also concluded that the Giant Serpent was the real thing, but they did approach the phenomenon with logic and a well planned methodology. That was progress.