Maine “sea monster” the subject of recent post on science magazine’s website

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Remains of an oarfish. Courtesy of NOAA Photo Library on Flickr.

 

A recent feature in coastal science publication Hakai Magazine uses an example from Maine to illustrate how scientists relied on fisherman in the 19th century. We love sea monsters here at #Maine, so we thought we’d share this post with you.

Hakai’s Rachel Fritts writes about a Maine fisherman’s encounter with a “marine monster”:

Poor S. W. Hanna didn’t realize what he was getting himself into when he told Maine’s Sea-Side Press about his unusual fishing expedition off New Harbor. The day had begun normally enough, but then a dead “marine monster” had the audacity to get stuck in his net. After examining the creature for 10 or 15 minutes, Hanna decided to toss it overboard.

Soon after that fateful day in 1880, Hanna received a letter with a series of questions from J. M. Allen, an enthusiastic scientist from Hartford, Connecticut. After replying—and likely thinking that was the end of that—Hanna was hit by another slew of questions from the scientist, and from the US commissioner of fish and fisheries himself, Spencer Fullerton Baird.

Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Click the picture to access their website.

An early drawing of an oarfish. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Click the picture to access their website.

Fritts went on to write that the monster was likely an oarfish, a long bony fish found around the world. Scientists in Europe knew all about the oar fish, but in America they weren’t so familiar, the questions Hanna was asked hinted that officials thought it was a sea serpent.

Even though we probably know what this is now, you won’t find me in Bristol’s New Harbor. Check out the first drawing from Hanna in the original article.