Jul 18, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Monsters of Modern Times: Pollution is Creating Them

Sightings of strange creatures have been reported for centuries. Particularly sea serpents and flying monsters, such as the Thunderbirds of Native American history. But, what about monsters that have only been around for a few decades? How can such creatures suddenly surface after not having been seen until the last ten or fifteen years? Where did they come from? These are important questions. The fact is, we are quite possibly creating our own monsters. We'll begin with what has popularly become known as the "Texas Chupacabra." Without doubt, a good friend of mine - and cryptozoologist - Ken Gerhard, is the leading figure in the study of these creatures. Ken has presented a fascinating scenario to explain how and why these monstrous hound-like things have surfaced only over the last decade or two. He said to me: "Many of these Texas Chupacabras have been reported in areas in and around coal-burning power-plants. Coal-burning power-plants release massive amounts of toxins, including something sulfur-dioxide, which – in laboratory tests – has been proven to be a mutagen. This is a toxin that can get into an animal’s blood make-up and actually cause their cells to mutate. Maybe, as a result of the pollution, the immune-systems of these animals have been weakened to the point where, when they do contract the mange mites, their resulting symptoms are much more extreme than anything we’ve encountered before. This may be why they become completely hairless, so fast, and why they look so sickly. It might also explain the physical changes, like the forelimb lengths, the overbites, and the pouches.”

(Nick Redfern) Beware of the Chupacabra

That the state of Texas is home to around twenty coal-burning plants, alone, is notable. Ken says: "Many of these Texas chupacabras have been reported in areas in and around coal-burning power-plants. Coal-burning power-plants release massive amounts of toxins, including something called sulfur-dioxide, which – in laboratory tests – has been proven to be a mutagen. This is a toxin that can get into an animal’s blood make-up and actually cause their cells to mutate. Now, let's take a look at monsters in the U.K. In this case, what seem to be grossly huge, giant eels. They, too, are almost certainly the creations of pollution. Of course, eels have been around for untold times. But, in the last few decades people have been seeing massive eels. Creature-seeker Richard Freeman has come up with a fascinating reason as to why we are seeing such massive eels, as you will see. Make mention of Scottish lake monsters to most people and it will inevitably conjure up imagery of the world’s most famous unknown water beast, the Loch Ness Monster. It’s a little known fact, however, that there are more than a few Scottish lakes with legends of diabolical creatures attached to them.

(Nick Redfern) This stretch of canal can be found in the U.K.'s city of Birmingham. I have eight reports of huge eels seen in this area. Their sizes? Around fifteen-feet-long. Maybe ever larger.

While many of the stories are decidedly fragmentary in nature, one of them is not. Welcome to the world of Morag, the resident beasty of Loch Morar. At just over eleven and a half miles in length, it has the distinction of being the deepest body of freshwater in the British Isles, with a depth of just over 1,000 feet. Unlike Loch Ness, the water of which is almost black, Loch Morar can boast of having practically clear water. It takes its name from the village of Morar, which is situated close by and specifically at the western side of the loch, and which was the site of the Battle of Morar – a violent, death-filled confrontation between the Mackenzie and MacDonell clans. As for the monster, Morag, the tales are many. What makes them so different to the ones coming out of Loch Ness, however, is not the descriptions of the creatures, but that such reports are often hard to uncover. Unlike Loch Ness, Loch Morar is an isolated, seldom visited loch. It is bereft of much in the way of a large population, and not particularly easy to access. The result is that tourists to Scotland very rarely visit it. The same goes for native Scots, too! For that reason, just like Las Vegas, what happens at Loch Morar is very often destined to stay there.

Nevertheless, there are enough classic cases on record to strongly suggest strange things lurk in Loch Morar. One of the earliest reports came from a man named James McDonald, who claimed a sighting of a three-humped creature snaking through the waters, late one, cold, dark night, in January 1887. Rather ominously, superstitious locals perceived this as a distinctly ill-omen: the three sections were seen as death, a coffin, and a grave – such was the fear that the villagers had of the monster in their midst. Eight years later, Sir Theodore Brinckman and his wife were fishing at the loch when a long thing, shaped like an upturned boat, surfaced from the depths. “It’ll just be the monster,” said one of the locals, a man named MacLaren.

An astonishing sighting occurred in 1948, when a man named Alexander MacDonnell sighted one of the Morags actually on the bank of the shore, at Bracorina Point. In a few moments it practically belly-flopped back into the water and vanished. It was a beast described as the size of an elephant. Needless to say, there is no known, indigenous creature in the British Isles that rivals an elephant in size. In the same year, a number of people, led by a Mr. John Gillies, caught sight of an approximately thirty-foot-long animal, displaying no less than four humps. Then, in August 1968, John MacVarish had a close view of an unknown animal in Loch Morar, one that displayed a snake-like head of about six-feet in length, and had very dark, or black skin. 

Without doubt the most amazing - and, for the witnesses, nerve-wracking – encounters occurred on the night of August 16, 1969. That was when William Simpson and Duncan McDonnell were traveling on the waters, near the west end of the loch. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a large animal – possibly thirty feet in length – loomed into view and actually collided with their motor-boat. Or, perhaps, rammed would be a better term to use. When Simpson tried to blast the creature with his shotgun, it sank beneath the waves. Now, back to the matter of pollution and chemicals.

(Nick Redfern) Richard Freeman, Cryptozoologist

As for what the Morags might really be, monster-hunter Richard Freeman says: “As with the Nessie I think the best bet are giant sterile eels. The common eels swims out to the Sargasso Sea to breed then die. The baby eels follow scent trails back to their ancestral fresh waters homes and the cycle begins again. Sometimes, however a mutation occurs and the eel is sterile. These stay in fresh water and keep on growing. Known as eunuch eels no one knows how old they get or how big. One theory suggests that these rare, naturally occurring, mutations may now be on the increase due to pollution. PCBs and Beta Blocker chemicals have long been implicated in causing sterility in fish. Could they be causing more eunuch eels in the deep lakes of Scotland? For now, we just don’t know.” 

Now, let's take a look at mutated frogs in Minnesota. Back in 1995, there were an incredibly large number of deformed frogs that were found in a pond in southwest Minnesota. The story provoked a great deal of controversy. Such was the concern surrounding a series of bizarre, genetic and physical changes in the frog population, none other than the U.S. Government’s Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, undertook careful and concerned studies. Its staff noted at its website: “Malformed frogs first became the topic of national news in August 1995 when students at a middle school in southern Minnesota discovered one-half of all the frogs they caught in a nearby pond were malformed. Since then, malformed frogs have been reported throughout Minnesota and elsewhere in the United States and Canada.”

As the USGS said, the mutations were downright weird: “Malformations included missing limbs, missing digits, extra limbs, partial limbs, skin webbing, malformed jaws, and missing or extra eyes.” On the matter of how, exactly, the mutations might have occurred, the USGS had a few ideas. All of them were controversial and disturbing: “Pesticides are known to cause malformation or death of frogs when present in sufficient concentrations. Studies in Canada show a relation between the percentage of malformed frogs and pesticide use. Methoprene, an insecticide widely used to control mosquitoes, also has been suspected as having caused malformations. Endocrine disruptors also are being studied to determine if they are responsible for some of the frog malformations in Minnesota. Endocrine disruptors are natural and human-made chemicals that interfere with or mimic natural hormones that control development, growth, and behavior of organisms. The number of endocrine disruptors is unknown; only during the last decade has screening of chemicals begun to evaluate endocrine disrupting activity.”

The conclusion of the USGS: “It is likely that one or more combinations of chemicals, biological, and physical factors are responsible for causing the malformations in Minnesota frogs. Chemical combinations may be mixtures of natural and human-made organic chemicals, each of which is harmless on its own but toxic when combined. The number of possible combinations of chemicals, biological, and physical factors is enormous, which may explain why finding the causes for frog malformations has been a difficult task.” Notably, over the years I have received a number of cases of mutated frogs. In these cases, we're talking about frogs the sizes of small dogs. Imagine seeing one of those!  Are we creating our very own monsters because of pollution?  We just might be.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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