Here Be Monsters is the true account of Captain Jason Seabury, young master of New Bedford whaleship Monongahela, reported to have captured and killed a sea serpent in the Pacific Ocean on January 13, 1851.
“The tail and head would occasionally appear in the surging bloody foam, and a sound was heard, so dead, unearthly, and expressive of acute agony, that a shrill of horror ran through our veins.”
– Jason Seabury, Master, whaleship Monongahela, 1851.
Something horrible occurred in the Bering Sea at the end of the 1853 bowhead whaling season. The 500-ton New Bedford whaleship Monongahela, with twenty-eight year old Captain Jason Seabury and crew of thirty-three, was mysteriously destroyed and lost. In the icy waters swirling around her sinking hull a mystery and a monster were also lost.
Here Be Monsters! Centuries ago cartographers tried to make their charts as accurate as possible, including any known hazards to be encountered by ships sailing the deep oceans. They included depictions of sea monsters indicating, "Hic sunt dracones." They weren't just cute caricatures to decorate the charts, they were serious warnings.
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* These are not in the proposed book.
Sea serpents have been sighted and known for thousands of years. Ancient Vikings, great sailors and explorers of unknown seas of the world, adorned the prows of their boats with sea serpent figures, and displayed sea serpents on their jewelry. The Viking god Jörmungandr was a sea serpent that encircled the Earth. A series of petroglyphs located in the Petroglyph Provincial Park, Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, BC in part depicts whale-like sea monsters, complete with forelimbs, crocodilian snout, and large eyes; they closely match the sea monster reportedly captured by Jason Seabury. These petroglyphs were made by a civilization of people before written language, and date to approximately 1000 BC. These rock writings depict what these people knew, and recorded great events. Why would they depict sea monsters? Note the similarity with the earliest recorded sighting by Olaus Magnus in 1550 (see detail in the section, Sea Serpents.) The illustration on the right below is the Olaus Magnus sea serpent. All had similar features although they were widely spread over time and place. Coincidence? I think not.
Nanaimo Sea Serpents, 1000 BC Olaus Magnus Sea Serpent, 1550
On October 1, 1850 Captain Jason Seabury sailed the New Bedford whaleship Monongahela to the newly opened bowhead whaling grounds beyond Bering Strait in the Arctic Ocean. On February 24, 1852 the New-York DailyTribune published a lengthy account by Seabury, brought back by another whaleship while Monongahela continued to hunt the bowhead. The manuscript was his first-hand account of the capture of a sea serpent. The story was immediately picked up by almost every newspaper around the world and became the talk of societies around the world.
Photograph of Jason Seabury from the Steve Crandell Collection.
The narrative is still debated today. There are many authors who tell their version of the story, including "new information." Not one of them, from 1852 until now, has been correct, but all have fired the confusion and controversies with inaccuracies, assumptions and plagerism by other authors. It has been labeled a hoax by many due to the lack of evidence and contradictory statements.
Famed cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans wrote in his book, In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents (1968), that there are “signs that this fantastic hoax may after all have had a germ of fact. To unravel the whole confused story would require much more time and careful research than I have been able to give it.”
I have done the research and unraveled the facts that have been lost for over 155 years. The complete story reveals a much more fascinating true account of what happened than previously thought. There is much more to it. Is it true? I am writing a book, Here Be Monsters: The Great Sea Serpent Caught At Last!, which examines all facts including many that have been long hidden and unknown. This web site is to provide some background, sample chapters and additional chapters that I have cut from the book. Is the account true? The account is based on six very true, related stories intertwined resulting in this true account. Please read the book when it becomes available and you will fully understand this greatest of sea mysteries. Meanwhile, please read the sample chapters. I would appreciate your feedback, comments and questions.
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Copyright © 2007, 2008 Thomas Lytle. All rights reserved.
Preface - The Voyage - The Sighting - The Capture
The Sea Monster - Sea Serpents - K-T Extinction - Jason Seabury Ancestors
When was the capture? - Links - Bibliography