the Log editor visited a nearby beach and found a stranded sea monster-I assume
it had been inshore on its annual spawning run ( our local black plastic
species is, I believe, a fall spawner,) and got stranded. I went back up the
next day, but it had vanished.
a long history of “sea monster” stories told tongue in cheek on Lake Ontario.
Richard Palmer, historian, has e mailed me a couple of them. Here’s one below.
As far as I know, no one had been dumping mash locally, so I can’t really account
for the mysterious stranding that occurred this fall although the town of
Wolcott water plant might know something….
Note the horny tubercles on the head-typical of spawning condition
for this species
Oswego Palladium, Feb. 1, 1877
An Old Tar's Twister
In the summer of '40, I think it was, a schooner I was in cut a
sea sarpint in two. We stood out from Kingston about noon with the wind from
the nor'east, a pipin' rather strong, and as the schooner was flyin' light she
traveled astonishin' to see. Just after passin' the Ducks the 'old man,' who
was pacin' the deck, called the mate's attention to sumptin' in the water about
a quarter of a mile dead ahead. Lookin' off that way a long object, resemblin'
the back of a shoal, was plainly seen. For a minute or two the 'old man' was in
doubt what to do, but finally concludin' that a shoal had no business in such a
place, he ordered the man at the wheel to steer dead for it.
All of us on deck, exceptin' the man at the wheel, run for'ard to
sight of the obstruction and got on the forecastle deck jest in
time to see that the thing was nothin' more nor less than a huge sea sarpint,
sound asleep. The monster wasn't less'n fifty feet long, with a head sumthin'
similar to that of the firey dragon we see in picter books. It was a full dull
brown color, scales on its back, hair jest back of the neck, and a tail like a
harpoon head. In less time than it takes to tell it we was atop the monster and
crushin' its bones in an awful way.
Our headway was deadened a trifle but we kept on, and as the
monster come up under our stern we
could see we had cut it clean in two and the two halves was swimmin' away in
opposite directions. Before then there hadn't been but one see sarpint on Lake
Ontario, but since then two have been seen most every year. Morton's
distillery, near Kingston, was in full blast at that time, and I account for
the sarpint bein' asleep this side of the Ducks instead of the other side of
Snake Island, its usual haunt, by the fact that that mornin' the men at the
distillery dumped two or three hundred bushels of mash into the lake and the
sarpint had got a trifle 'how come you so. '
Diamond of Napanee, who made quite a stir a few years ago by
pilotin' the lost Ivanhoe from the Ducks into the upper gap of the
Bay of Quinte, had a big tank built two or three years ago for the sarpint. The
idea was to ketch the chap, put him into the tank and sell the whole thing to
The tank had a gate like a lock gate, and it was sunk in South
the favorite feedin' place for the sarpint. The plan was drive him
into the tank, when the suction would close the gate and the wonder of the
lakes would be trapped.
The steam barges Adventure of Kingston, Ivanhoe of Napanee, and
Norman of Belleville was to frighten the brute into the trap, and either one of
them boats was fully able to the task. As luck would have it, the day the three
boats left here there was a fog so thick the captains lost their reckonin,''
and when it cleared up the Ivanhoe was tryin' to get into Sandy
Creek, the Adventure was up near Charlotte, and the Norman had turned
completely 'round and was in the river runnin' a race with the plaster mill.
The tank is still in the same spot and
will stay there till Calvin & Breck launch their ship from Garden Island,
hopin' that when she slides into the water the sarpint will rush into the tank
in its anxiety to escape the huger monster.
If the plan works, 'there's millions in it,' and the Bay grangers
can keep their barley and handle it themselves or all turn malsters and