|Nags Head, North Carolina|
I have a very supportive family. I guess a lot of people do, but I also wager that when most people tell their families how that they have a real fascination with strange animals, myths and the like, most people would be a little apprehensive. Not my family though. I was blessed to have a great many people around me who completely supported and even took a great interest in the very subjects that fascinated me. And that is how this next little curious adventure began.
A few days ago I got a Facebook message from my Step-mother reposting an article about a very strange sea creature caught off the coast of Nags Head, North Carolina. She forwards stuff like this to me a lot, because she knows that I’m into this kind of thing. And even though nine times out of ten I’ve already heard it somewhere else first, I still really appreciate it. Now this is especially significant for me for another reason. Nags Head is a place where I and my family spent many years vacationing, because we owned a summer home there.
Nags Head is most famous worldwide for being the place where the Wright Brothers practiced and latter achieved flight. And today in many places it is a much built up tourist attraction. However a great deal of it still remains wild and open, with lots of beautiful marsh and swamp land. One more than one occasion I have seen wild river otters, sea turtles, marsh deer, and porpoises. I even had the displeasure of coming in contact with some rather large Jellyfish there on more than one occasion.
The article was about a recently caught fish off the coast that was unlike anything the tourists or even the vast majority of locals where familiar with. The creature in question was a Lancet fish. Lancet fish are a family of Deep Ocean going fish that usually stay far out to sea and very close to the bottom. As such their body shape is very unusual, especially in comparison to the kinds of fish most people expect to find at the beach.
Now I have to say the thing I liked about this article is that while they freely admit the reason they even reported it was because the fish was rare, they didn’t try and play it up as some “fabulous unknown monster coming up from the deep to terrorize our shores.” Often newspapers in order to sell copies will either fail to mention the exact species of fish it is, and try to play it up as some truly unknown sea creature. Or just casually mention it at the end of the article, but still play it up as something truly unknown. I get that weird sells, but as a journalist your obligation is supposed to be the truth. But these kinds of article can serve a good purpose, especially if they are written like this one was, by highlighting the truly fascinating creatures of the planet, even the ones most people aren’t familiar with.
This however, was not the first time someone had gone to Nags Head and brought back a photo of a strange creature for me to look at. In high school one of my Ecology classmates went to Nags Head over spring break and came back with a picture of something she thought I might be interested in. When I saw the picture I recognized the identity of the creature in it right away, but something was a bit off. The photo showed her and her family on the beach in front of a large beached Bull Shark, Carcharhinus leucas. Now Bull Sharks are native to Nags Head, but this one was a bit different. The largest Bull Shark officially caught in Nags Head was a little over four feet, this animal was at least twice as long if not more. This photo goes to show that large animals can live right by tens of thousands of tourists and locals without ever being seen.
Remembering this story as well as this recent article made me want to do a little digging and try to find any reports of strange or unexpected creatures in this still wild place. And I just so happened to find one. On June 18, 1888, George Thomas, mate aboard the ship Alice Hodges told the Baltimore Sun that he had recently seen a strange creature off the coast of Nags Head, North Carolina. The creature he estimated was almost 100 feet long, and he was convinced it was some kind of sea serpent. The paper doesn’t give a lot of detailed descriptions outside of that. And while I’ve found a couple of other interesting sea monster reports from North Carolina, nothing else has come from around the Nags Head area.
Just like when I first started to research the possible Cryptids living in my own back yard, like the supposed Bigfoot sightings and loose mountain lions, I was pleasantly surprised to see that potentially there were some Cryptid sightings in one of my most beloved childhood vacation spots too. Not only that, but to know that these places still have large areas of beautiful nature habitat probably the most gratifying of all. So I have a little “challenge” for everyone out there who would like to participate. I would challenge you to do a little research your favorite vacation spots and see if you can find anything of Cryptozoological interest about them. Whether they be reports of contemporary sightings, historical ones, or just bizarre phenomena. And when you’re planning that family vacation for this summer, may I make one small suggestion? Try a place the main attraction isn’t a theme park or a celebrity’s birth place. Instead how about a place where nature is the most spectacular thing you’ll see. Trust me, your family, all future nature lovers and the planet will thank you.