It washed up in 2006 on a beach in Sakhalin, an island in eastern Russia near Japan. Found by Russian soldiers in the area, it was estimated to have once been 20 feet long and covered with hair or fur. Tests at the time failed to conclusively determine what the creature was and it was thought to be a sea monster, plesiosaur or some other prehistoric beast. Now, eight years later, it has finally been identified. Maybe.
Sakhalin, located in the North Pacific Ocean, is Russia’s largest island and one fifth the size of Japan, which it is north of. It has been part of both countries and the Soviet Union throughout history with ownership continuously in dispute. Sakhalin’s last big claim to fame occurred on September 1, 1983, when the South Korean civilian airliner Korean Air Flight 007 was shot down by the Soviet Union just west of the island, killing all passengers and crew.
OK, back to the bones. Shortly after the 15-foot-long remains were found, the bones and teeth were examined by Russian scientists who determined that it creature was not a fish, alligator or crocodile. There’s no indication that they checked to see if might be anything else, allowing speculation to run rampant that it was some sort of sea monster. The fur or hair was puzzling and the decayed condition led to theories that it could have been much larger when alive.
According to a recent analysis by marine biologists reported by Above Science, they have determined that the remains belong to a beluga whale. Belugas are Arctic whales and, while the females are only 9 feet at maturity, males can reach up to 15 feet in length. The distinctive snout and peg-shaped teeth of belugas certainly resemble those of the mysterious carcass.
Does that clear things up? Not for everyone. What about the fur or hair? Only young belugas have hair and this is definitely an adult due to its size. Also, why did it take eight years to finally identify the creature? The analysis seems to have been done using photos, not DNA. Belugas are often the go-to animal when mysterious sea creatures are found, as in the recent news about the Lake Champlain monster.
Is this case closed or is the identity of the Sakhalin monster still to be determined conclusively?