Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Sea Serpents Galore! (Australia, 19th Century)

     Take note! Most of what you are about to read in this post, and in those of the following months, have never been presented in any significant publication as a collection. In other words, they are new: unknown to the general public.
     I have been going through the digitalised Australian newspapers on Trove for the nineteenth century, and my system has been simple. I just used the advanced search option to look for the phrase, "sea serpent" for a particular year. Frequently what turned up was a flippant remark, and all too often a reference to a horse or a ship of that name. (I regret to say that the latter was never involved in an encounter. I would have loved to have read the headline, SEA SERPENT SEES SEA SERPENT.) Nevertheless, quite frequently I was met with a report of an actual (alleged) sea serpent sighting, which typically appeared in a large number of periodicals over a considerable period of time. If the story could not be found in Bernard Heuvelmans' comprehensive tome, In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents (1968), I have assumed it is unknown, and have copied what appears to be the earliest and/or most detailed account. I only wish the journalists had been prepared to ask questions. As if was, they normally recorded merely the information provided by the witness, without any attempt to obtain more details. But at least they took the subject seriously - which is more than they do today. In any case, this month's post shall deal with the Australian encounters. At this period, it is important to note, most trade between the Australian colonies was by sea.

The Possum Book

I am pleased to provide a link to a website of a friend of mine, Robyn Tracey, who has written a fascinating story about her dealings with brush-tailed possums in the outer suburbs of Sydney. You can download the book for free, or read it on the site. Go to: The Possum Book.

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