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Witness from a Royal Navy Captain

To falsify a ship's log would cause a captain to face court-martial, the loss of his career, reputation and pension, and cause great trouble to the crew members judged complicit in the deceit.

Declassified files recently released from the National Archives indicate that huge sea serpents were a fact of life for mariners. This account is taken from a captain of the Royal Navy. It.is in no sense legendary and comes from the 19th century. This sea-serpent was seen close to the island of St Helena on May 9, 1830 by the crew of the Rob Roy. Its captain, James Stockdale recorded the encounter in his official log.

“About five p.m. all at once while I was walking on the poop my attention was drawn to the water on the port bow by a scuffling noise. Likewise all the watch on deck were drawn to it. Judge my amazement when what should stare us all in the face as if not knowing whether to come over the deck or to go around the stern, but the great big sea snake! Now I have heard of the fellow before, and I have killed snakes twenty-four feet long in the straits of Malacca, but they would go in his mouth. I think he must have been asleep for we were going along very softly two knots an hour, and he seemed as much alarmed as we were and all taken aback for about fifteen seconds. But he soon was underway and, when fairly off, his head was square with our topsail and his tail was square with the foremast....My ship is 171 feet long overall and the foremast is 42 feet from the stern which would make the monster about 129 feet long. If I had not seen it I could not have believed it but there was no mistake or doubt of its length, for the brute was so close I could even smell his nasty fishy smell....When underway he carried his head about six feet out of water – with a fin between the shoulders about two feet long. I think he was swimming about five miles an hour – for I watched him from the topsail yard till I lost sight of him in about fifty minutes. I hope never to see him more. It is enough to frighten the strong at heart.”

Witness of another Sea Captain

This second report of a sea-monster sighting has been declassified at an official level by the British Government. It describes an 1857 encounter that also occurred in the vicinity of the island of St. Helena. The following is from Commander George Henry Harrington.

Commander Harrington's ship Castilian

“While myself and officers were standing on the lee side of the poop looking toward the island, we were startled by the sight of a huge marine animal which reared its head out of the water within twenty yards of the ship when it suddenly disappeared for about half a minute and then made a reappearance in the same manner again, showing us its neck and head about ten or twenty feet out of the water....Its head was shaped like a long buoy and I should suppose the diameter to have been seven or eight feet in the largest part with a kind of scroll or ruff encircling it about two feet from the top. The water was discoloured for several hundred feet from the head, so much so that on its first appearance my impression was that the ship was in broken waters, produced, as I supposed, by some volcanic agency, since I passed the island before....But the second appearance completely dispelled those fears and assured us that it was a monster of extraordinary length and appeared to be moving slowly towards the land. The ship was going too fast to enable us to reach the masthead in time to form a correct estimate of this extreme length, but from what we saw from the deck we conclude that he must have been over two hundred feet long. The Boatswain and several of the crew, who observed it from the forecastle, state that it was more than double the length of the ship, in which case it must have been five hundred feet”

Once again it is reasonable to ask whether or not a witness like Commander Harrington is anything less than about the most convincing of any that could be imagined.

Witness of Sea Captains