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The Real Sea Monster of Cadboro Bay

John Steinbeck once said, people “ really need sea-monsters in their personal ocean - an ocean without its monsters would be like a completely dreamless sleep”.

It all began in 1933 during a sailing trip off Cadboro Bay when a Victoria couple reported seeing a horrible serpent with the head of a camel swimming past Chatham Island.  This prompted Archie Willis of the Victoria Times to sponsor a ‘name the monster’ contest, the winning name was ‘Cadborosaurus’. Over the years hundreds of sightings have occurred usually describing the creature as serpent like, with a head shaped like a horse or camel, flippers, red hair along its neck and between 15 to 70 feet in length.

Eye witness sightings and many old photos of what were believed to be the sea serpent’s carcasses are all that supports the existence of Vancouver Island’s Sea Serpent.  Only dead or dying specimens are usually seen and recorded. Most carcasses were very much decayed and when analysed the majority were thought to be the remains of basking sharks.

I do however, have a theory.  We know more about outer space than we know about our inner space, the oceans. It seems like every year we find another fish that was thought to be extinct. Most of them live in the deepest, darkest parts of the ocean below 1,000 feet, an environment seldom explored by man.

We are all familiar with the Anglerfish whose monstrous appearance belies the fact that the males are the size of a golf tee. The lighted lure they use for fishing in the dark is impressive but there is a darker side to our little friend. Have a look at their sex habits in ‘Did You Know’. Anyway, I digress; could it be that Cadborosaurus is a prehistoric, deep sea creature that lives in our waters? Oh yes, I believe so.

I have a likely suspect. The Giant Oarfish. As the world’s largest bony fish, recorded at 36 feet and unconfirmed at 56 feet, the Giant Oarfish has a silvery body, red fins and red appendages that appear to be much like a lion’s mane.  It is known to live in the middle pelagic or twilight zone that extends from 650 feet to 3,300 feet below the surface.  

This is not to say that they are cryptid (meaning those whose existence has been suggested but is not recognized by science) as in fact this fish is well known. 

The following photo was taken in 1996 in San Diego and shows some US Navy sailors holding an impressive Giant Oarfish specimen.

Look at the creature’s head on the far right. If this came swimming past me with its horse’s head and red mane glistening in the sunlight, I too would believe in sea serpents. If nothing else it makes my next row around the bay a little more exciting.  

If you have an idea as to the fact or fiction of Vancouver Island’s Sea Serpent drop us a line.