Friday, September 16, 2011

A Baby Cadborosaur No More. Part 2a: Hagelund's Account

Hagelund (1987), pages 177-180:
     With my two sons and their grandfather aboard our centre cockpit sloop, we spotted a small surface disturbance in the calm anchorage where we had dropped the hook for the night. Lowering the dinghy, my youngest son Gerry and I rowed out to investigate. We found a small, eel-like, sea creature swimming along with its head held completely out of the water, the undulation of its long, slender body causing portions of its spine to break the surface. My first thought that it was a sea snake was quickly discarded when, on drawing closer, I noticed the dark limpid eyes, large in proportion to the slender head, which had given it a seal-like appearance when viewed from the front. When it turned away, a long, slightly hooked snout could be discerned.
     As the evening's darkness made observation difficult, and the swiftness of the creature's progress warned that he could quickly disappear, I decided to attempt a capture and bring it aboard the sloop for closer examination. Reaching out with a small dip net as Gerry swung the stern of our dinghy into the path of the small vee of wavelets that were the only indication of the creature's position, I was pleased to find him twisting angrily in the net when I lifted it up.
     Under the bright lights aboard the sloop, we examined our catch and found he was approximately sixteen inches long, and just over an inch in diameter. His lower jaw had a set of sharp tiny teeth and his back was protected by plate-like scales, while his undersides were covered in a soft yellow fuzz. A pair of small, flipper-like feet protruded from his shoulder area, and a spade-shaped tail proved to be two tiny flipper-like fins that overlapped each other.
     I felt the biological people at Departure Bay would be interested in this find, but without a radiophone to contact them, the next best thing was to sail up there in the morning. Agreeing on this, we filled a large plastic bucket with seawater and dumped our creature into it. We retired early, for I intended to leave at first light, but sleep would not come to me. Instead, I lay awake, acutely aware of the little creature trapped in our bucket. In the stillness of the anchorage I could hear the splashes made by his tail, and the scratching of his little teeth and flippers as he attempted to grasp the smooth surface of the bucket. Such exertion, I began to realize, could cause him to perish before morning.
     My uneasiness grew until I finally climbed back on deck and shone my flashlight down into the bucket. He stopped swimming immediately, and faced the light as though it were an enemy, his mouth opened slightly, the lips drawn back exposing his teeth, and the tufts of whiskers standing stiffly out from each side of his snout, while his large eyes reflected the glare of my flashlight. I felt a strong compassion for that little face staring up at me, so bravely awaiting its fate.
     Just as strongly came the feeling that, if he was as rare a creature as my limited knowledge led me to believe, then the miracle of his being in Pirate's Cove at all should not be undone by my impulsive capture. He should be allowed to go free, to survive, if possible, and to fulfill his purpose. If he were successful, we could possibly see more of his kind, not less. If he perished in my hands, he would only be a forgotten curiosity. I lowered the bucket over the side and watched him swim quickly away into the darkness, then returning to my bunk for a peaceful rest, my mind untroubled by the encounter.

After Hagelund (1987), page 178. It included the following notes: 3 inches (brackets including head), 16 inches (brackets including entire animal), hooked upper jaw, tiny teeth in both jaws, large eyes, plate scales, yellow fuzz, black on top and brown on sides, approximately 1 to 1½ inches in diameter, yellow tail, ragged ends (pointing to tail).

Hagelund noted that the encounter took place at Pirate's Cove; LeBlond and Bousfield (1995) clarified that the encounter occurred on De Courcy Island in August 1968.

An annotated version of this account will appear soon. I felt it was important for Hagelund's account to be available uninterrupted and uncut.

Previous entry:

Tet Zoo Coverage: 
A baby sea-serpent no more: reinterpreting Hagelund’s juvenile Cadborosaurus


Hagelund, W. A. (1987). Whalers No More. Vancouver: Harbour Publishing.

LeBlond, P. H. & Bousfield, E. L. (1995). Cadborosaurus, Survivor from the Deep. Victoria, British Columbia: Horsdal & Schubart.