As regular readers of Mysterious Universe will know, I am a big believer in the possibility that at least some so-called lake-monsters are actually giant eels. And when I say “giant” I really do mean that. You can find one such case here and another one here. But, for me, one of the most intriguing cases of all was that of a man named John Weatherly (who, I should stress, is not related to David Weatherly, the author of The Black Eyed Children). John related his account as follows:
“I am British and live in Florida. My family and I came to Florida by sea from Australia in 1969. Our ship left Acapulco and sailed along the west coast towards the Panama Canal. It was the first week of July 1969. The sea was calm and we were cruising quite slowly because of congestion in the canal. As we cruised along the west coast of Costa Rica and Panama we were about 7 or 8 miles from shore and just a few yards from the flotsam line. It was clearly defined line of sea weed about 30 feet wide with odd bits of wood and the occasional small tree limb,
“We cruised along this path for several hours in bright sunshine between about 10 AM and 2 PM. There were many fish visible and some very large turtles but the significant sighting was huge eels. These creatures were always in pairs and we saw a pair perhaps every 20 minutes or so. They averaged about 15 feet long and had a diameter of about 1.5 feet. They were khaki or olive in color and were identical to the eels for which I used to fish as a boy in my home town of Canterbury Kent, except they were so large. They were lazily swimming very slowly along through the flotsam or just wallowing at the very surface.
“The ship was carrying about 1200 passengers and most were on deck on this idyllic day so the eels were seen by many people. Most were engaged in counting the enormous numbers of sharks which were clearly visible around the ship. I wonder if you have any idea what species of eel these were? They could easily have swallowed a child or a small adult.”
I wondered, too, and I sent John a bunch of photos of eels known to inhabit the waters in question, but he advised me that the beasts he saw were far stranger in nature: “Thanks for the inputs, Nick. Unfortunately they did not add a great deal to the identity of the eels that I and my fellow passengers saw all those years ago. The images are still very clear in my minds eye. I am not much of an ichthyologist or zoologist for that matter, being a retired communications engineer by profession, so I can only speculate and very possibly be in error. However I would suggest that since we only saw these creatures in pairs that possibly they had come to the surface for mating as I believe do some other relatively deep water species?
“Also, every moray eel picture that I have ever seen usually depicted a fish with a spotted or patterned body. These were not like that but a uniform smooth light khaki or even green/mustard color. Also the snout of the moray is quite pronounced. If memory serves me correctly the ones we saw had a more rounded nose. I do not recall the eyes being specifically prominent either although we are now stretching my memory a bit. I only wish I had access to a good telescopic lens for my camera at the time.”
Indeed, having heard John’s story, so did I. Whatever the true identity of those giant eels seen back in 1969, it seemed they are destined to remain a mystery.