When something weird looking shows up on the shoreline, there’s always a rush to call it a sea monster or some other more interesting thing than what it probably is: a decomposing fish. Sea creatures look weird as is, and half-eaten sea creatures even more so. Yet every once in a while something strange does show up. On Friday, March 16 2018 the corpse of a strange and as-of-yet unidentified creature was reported to have turned up on the shore near Wolf Island, Georgia. Curiously, the description of this strange sea creature matches the description of the Altamaha-ha, a legendary cryptid of southern Georgia lore, with sightings reported as far back as 1830. Interestingly, the Altamaha-ha reportedly bears a strong resemblance to one of the most famous cases in all of cryptozoology: the Loch Ness monster.
Jeff Warren of Waycross, Georgia was fishing with his son near the Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia when he spotted what he said looked like a dead seal on the beach. Upon closer look, it looked more like the Loch Ness monster than a seal. While birds were picking at the carcass of this mysterious animal, Warren was able to snap pictures and a video of the creature, according to First Coast News. Warren released one of the photos to News 4 Jax in Jacksonville, Florida, which can be seen on their website. He says the creature was approximately four to five feet long with two fins, a long neck, and a mouth containing teeth one-eighth-inch long.
Later, at a local restaurant, Jeff Warren told fellow diners what he had seen. The locals informed Jeff that what he was describing was the Altamaha-ha, which means monster of the Altamaha river. The Altamaha-ha (Alty for short) is a famous cryptid of coastal Georgia folklore often seen near the city of Darien at the mouth of the Altamaha river, approximately six to eight miles west of where Jeff Warren saw his sea monster.
Darien, Georgia was founded by a group of Scottish immigrants from Inverness, which is—you guessed it—the location of most Loch Ness monster sightings. Alty, to its credit, has had its fair share of sightings too, and is used as a mascot of sorts for the town of Darien. Local oral history says that Alty was described in native American folklore from the region, and documented reports of sightings stretch as far back as 1830. However, the mysterious creature came to prominence in 1981, when a newspaper publisher saw “two humps” moving very fast through the water. After he published his sighting, many other reports began to surface, some dating back decades.
The Altamaha-ha of lore retains a few traits every time a sighting is reported: serpent like characteristics, a long neck that can rise out of the water, a head described as resembling either an alligator or a snake. All of those could describe an obscured view of the sea-monster photographed by Jeff Warren. What doesn’t line up is the size. Most sightings of the alleged cryptid put Alty at between 20 and 30 feet long. The creature on the beach is described as four to five feet long.
That doesn’t necessarily mean anything. After all, many “big fish” yarns have been spun about previously identified sea creatures, why not one that hasn’t yet been named?
For now it’s still an enigma. It is unknown at this time what sort of investigation is being conducted, but if there’s a chance of proving the existence of one of America’s most well known mystery creatures, it is almost certain that more information will come to light. Whether it turns out to be another “big fish” story is anyone’s guess.