Born in the 1820s, Henry Lee was a notable character. As well as being a member of the Zoological Society of London, he was a naturalist and someone who had a deep interest in tales of sea serpents. Although Lee was highly skeptical of many such reports of massive, unknown animals in the waters of our oceans, fjords and lakes, some of the cases that caught his attention are worthy of a renewed look. Consider the following one, which, Lee recorded, came from the “Archdeacon of Molde.” Lee said the man “…gives the following Norway-based account of an incident that occurred there on the 28th of July, 1845.”
In the Archdeacon’s own words: “J. C. Lurid, bookseller and printer; G. S. Krogh, merchant, Christian Flang, Lurid’s apprentice, and John Elgenses, laborer, were out on Romsdalfjord, fishing. The sea was, after a warm, sunshiny day, quite calm. About seven o’clock in the afternoon, at a little distance from the shore, near the ballast place and Molde Hooe, they saw a long marine animal, which slowly moved itself forward, as it appeared to them, with the help of two fins, on the fore-part of the body nearest the head, which they judged by the boiling of the water on both sides of it.
“The visible part of the body appeared to be between forty and fifty feet in length, and moved in undulations, like a snake. The body was round and of a dark color. As they discerned a waving motion in the water behind the animal, they concluded that part of the body was concealed under water. That it was one continuous animal they saw plainly from its movement.
“When the animal was about one hundred yards from the boat, they noticed tolerably correctly its fore parts, which ended in a sharp snout; its colossal head raised itself above the water in the form of a semi-circle; the lower part was not visible. The color of the head was dark-brown and the skin smooth; they did not notice the eyes, or any mane or bristles on the throat.
“When the serpent came about a musket-shot near, Lund fired at it, and was certain the shots hit it in the head. After the shot it dived, but came up immediately. It raised its neck in the air, like a snake preparing to dart on his prey. After he had turned and got his body in a straight line, which he appeared to do with great difficulty, he darted like an arrow against the boat. They reached the shore, and the animal, perceiving it had come into shallow water, dived immediately and disappeared in the deep.
“Such is the declaration of these four men, and no one has cause to question their veracity, or imagine that they were so seized with fear that they could not observe what took place so near them. There are not many here, or on other parts of the Norwegian coast, who longer doubt the existence of the sea serpent. The writer of this narrative was a long time skeptical, as he had not been so fortunate as to see this monster of the deep; but after the many accounts he has read, and the relations lie has received from credible witnesses, he does not dare longer to doubt the existence of the sea-serpent.”
It’s incredibly difficult to know what to make of this story. Of course, the skeptic would likely say that it was nothing but a concoction. A hoax, in other words. Or, maybe, a case of misidentification. Both scenarios seems unlikely though. After all, we have a number of names – people who were apparently willing to be quoted. Plus, we have the fact that the story came from an archdeacon, not the kind of person to concoct such a tale, we can probably say. Yet, the description of the beast was notable. Incredible, in fact. There was its length: between forty and fifty feet. And, we have a creature that “raised its neck in the air.” Put those two angles together and what we have does indeed sound like the classic description of a mysterious monster of the deep.
In light of all the above, as chronicled by Henry Lee, just perhaps there are still massive, unknown animals to be found in the waters of our world.