Manatee spotted off coast of WalesThe original report was on the Western Telegraph (Wed Aug 6th, page13) but is reproduced here.
WalesOnline, United Kingdom -
10 Aug 2008
Marine experts last night said it could be a first for the UK – and comes after a 7ft Blue Marlin was washed up on a Pembrokeshire beach this week.
Marine experts say the possible sighting of a manatee in Pembrokeshire waters is further evidence of climate change. The creature was spotted by Carol Morgan who has a bird’s eye view of Hobbs Point, Pembroke Dock, from her home at 5 Connaught Way.
She was preparing her lunchbox early one morning when she saw an unusual shape in the water. At first she thought it was a very large plastic container covered in green algae. But when it moved she reached for a telescope to get a closer look.
“I caught sight of its face and it looked like a pot-bellied pig,” said Carol, who works at Pembroke Leisure Centre.
“It then pulled itself onto the slipway and seemed to be foraging for something. After a short while it sauntered into the water and that was the last I saw of it.”
She only became aware of the actual size of the creature when she saw a couple walking a dog on the slipway a few moments later.
“It was several times larger than that dog, more like the size of a small cow,” said Carol.
Manatees, or sea cows as they are also known, are largely restricted to tropical waters with the nearest populations to the UK found off west Africa and the Caribbean. Pembrokeshire-based marine biologist, Francis Bunker, says it is possible that the manatee was carried here on the Gulf Stream currents. “We do after all get tropical sea beans and the occasional coconut washed up as well as sea turtles from the Caribbean, so why not a manatee? If it is a manatee I think it could be a first for UK waters.”
To his knowledge there are none in captivity in the UK which could have escaped.
Bathers need have no worries about venturing in the sea, as manatees are strictly herbivorous, feeding mainly on seagrasses.
Interesting it was seen off Hobbs Point given the name's connection with goblin like creatures as Loren Coleman points out Hobgoblin at Hobbs Point at Cryptomundo.
Manatee's grow up to 15 feet long and weigh 3500 pounds and are found in West Africa as well as the Southern United States, South America and across Southern Asia. There is a long-standing cryptozoological theory that Manatee are believed to have inspired some of the stories of Mermaids. In 1493, when Columbus's ships were taking on fresh water at the island known as Hispaniola, he recorded in his journal that his men "saw three sirenas (mermaids) who rose very high from the sea, but they were not as beautiful as they are painted." It is generally agreed that the creatures that Columbus and many other similar reports saw were manatees. There are a lot of Welsh legends concerning mermaids all round the Welsh coast which in Welsh are called Morgens or Plant Rhys Ddwfn. If the Welsh legends were inspired by any creature it would be a seal one would think. Some Welsh mermaid stories mention magic sealskin caps which give mermaids their powers and there is some similarity to the Gaelic tradition of the Selkie. A number of the Welsh stories concern fishermen marrying mermaids they catch at sea who later abandon their husbands, after he insults or beats them to return to the sea, their husbands being cursed by them. Or fishermen being tricked into the water and drowning the usual sort of tale.
So one presumes this beast in Pembroke Dock is either a Manatee a long way from home or perhaps more likely a misidentified seal - but there is another local candidate.
THE MILFORD MONSTER
In 2003 a sea serpent was seen once in Pembroke Dock close by the location of the Manatee sighting within the famous natural harbour which is also called Milford Haven, which is huge 10 miles by 2 miles. I wondered if the two sightings were connected but the description of the creature sounds very different. The Milford monster was described as massive and serpentine. But I believe it has been suggested that misidentification of Manatees may be involved in some some sea-serpent sightings as well as in Mermaid sightings. Here is an extract from the 2003 report.
The lunchtime customers at the small waterfront pub had never seen anything like it. They were enjoying a quiet drink when suddenly they saw a mysterious serpent-like creature in the water outside
It was dark and snake-like and roughly the length of four to five cars.
If it was Nessie she was a long way from home, as the mysterious creature of the deep was spotted in the Milford Haven waterway, just yards away from the busy Irish ferry terminal.
Now the sighting has become the talk of Pembroke Dock and the pub's landlord is offering a £150 reward to anyone who can catch the monster alive. David Crewe of the historic Ship-wright pub, said, "There was definitely something out there.
"It could be anything. I just want to find out what it is."
The mysterious creature was spotted first by barmaid Lesley John in the deep channel of the waterway, close to where Irish ferry boats turn around before heading for Pembroke Dock ferry terminal.
"I was pulling a pint for one of the lads and I was watching the ferry, you know how it leaves a white trail as it goes?"
"Then I saw what looked like a big black fin. I carried on pulling the pint and it was still there. I said to the lads `What the hell is that?' "
The customers went outside to investigate and also saw something strange.
"From a distance it appeared to have a snake-like head," said Peter Thomas. "And you could see a commotion in the water, a lot of splashing, about 10 metres away.
"It was a rather odd thing. I do a lot of boating on the waterway and I have never seen anything like that. It was something really strange. But you can only say what you saw."
Milford Haven was also a key area in the massive number of UFO reports in the Welsh Triangle incidents of the 70s. One theory claimed there was a secret alien underwater base off the Pembrokeshire coast. So it could be an Alien Manatee :) Meanwhile another few unusual fishy guests came along recently in the area.
It has been a strange year for welsh weirdness with the Swansea croc, the UFO wave and the Ghost slug being covered widely too.
Weighing in at around 450 pounds and over seven feet long, the magnificent Blue Marlin was found in the surf on Saundersfoot's Glen Beach on Wednesday by commercial fisherman Gavin Davies.
"I saw something in the water the previous evening, but it wasn't until I was walking the dog at 5.30am that I realised it was a marlin," said Gavin. "It was an amazing specimen." He and fellow fishermen Neil Lewis, Mel Matthews, Neil Thomas and Ruru Norbury pulled the marlin onto the beach with a Land Rover, before lifting it on the vehicle and contacting South Wales Sea Fisheries officer Mark Hamblin to verify their fishy find.
"I was gobsmacked," admitted Mark. "I would have loved to have caught that with a rod and line!"
The marlin, usually found offshore in deep blue tropical or temperate waters, is known to migrate towards the Atlantic, but apparently never as far afield as the UK.
"We are wondering if it could have been attacked by dolphins out at sea, and just drifted in," said Gavin, who fishes for Neil Thomas on board the Evan George.
"We're currently seeing dolphins by the hundred when we are out in Carmarthen Bay, and they are known to be extremely aggressive to other fish."
Less rare but still intersting is another fish found in Wals this summer:
"3rd July 2008 A Broad-billed Swordfish, Xiphias gladius, was discovered washed up dead on Barry Island beach, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales. It was carefully examined by Dr Peter Howlett, (Curator of Lower Vertebrates, National Museum, Wales) who confirmed the identification and found it to be a young specimen 2.24 metres long and between 60 and 80 kg in weight. It had been dead only a few days, but it had been scavenged by other creatures and it was not possible to determine the cause of its death. "