Chessie (sea monster)
|Sub grouping||Sea serpent|
Chessie is a legendary sea monster said to live in the midst of the Chesapeake Bay. Over the years there have been many alleged sightings of a serpent-like creature with flippers as part of its body. Most sighting reports describe it as a long, snake-like creature, from 25 feet (7.6 m) to 40 feet (12 m) long. It is said to swim using its body as a sine curve moving through the water. There were a rash of sightings in 1977 and more in the mid-1980s.
Although there are alleged photographs of Chessie, there is no genuine evidence of its existence. Speculation to explain sightings has included a "mutant eel" theory, large river otters, prehistoric zeuglodons, and South American anacondas escaping from 18th and 19th century sailing ships.
According to Matt Lake in Weird Maryland, two perch fishermen, Francis Klarrman and Edward J. Ward, in 1943 spotted something in the water near Baltimore.
This thing was about 75 yards away, at right angles from our boat. At first it looked like something floating on the water. It was black and the part of it that was out of the water seemed about 12 feet long. It has a head about as big as a football and shaped somewhat like a horse’s head. It turned its head around several times—almost all the way around.”
A photograph of an unknown sea creature taken by Trudy Guthrie in 1980 was later identified as a manatee from Florida. Manatees are unusual this far from Florida. A manatee nicknamed “Chessie” was rescued from the Chesapeake's chilly water in October 1994 and returned to Florida, but has revisited the Chesapeake several times since then. It was photographed in the Patapsco River in 2010 (unconfirmed) and near the shore of Calvert County on July 12, 2011. The more recent photograph was confirmed by U.S. Geological Survey biologists. Unlike the reports of a serpentine creature, manatees do not swim undulating from side to side.
The last notable sighting of the beast was in 1997, off the shore of Fort Smallwood State Park, very close to shore.
Chessie, as an environmental icon for the Chesapeake Bay, was used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its educational coloring book in 1986, Chessie: A Chesapeake Bay Story. The coloring book focuses on the Chesapeake Bay and protecting its resources. A second coloring book, Chessie Returns was published in 1991.
In the 1980s, Chessie became a symbol for environmental advocacy in Maryland. Illustrations of the monster in newspapers and government publications, accompanying articles about environmental issues, gave the monster a friendly appearance. Eric Cheezum wrote, in Discovering Chessie: Waterfront, Regional Identity, and the Chesapeake Bay, "The friendliness of the monster, too, could not help but convey the sense that the Bay was a harmless victim of pollution."
- Lake, Matt: Weird Maryland Sterling Publishing, 2006. ISBN 1-4027-3906-0 , page 68.
- Official Biography: Chessie Save the Manatee Club, retrieved 2009-12-17
- Timothy B. Wheeler (October 21, 2010). "Aquarium tracking down reported manatee sightings". The Baltimore Sun.
- Steve Kilar and Timothy B. Wheeler (July 15, 2011). "Chessie the manatee pays return visit to Chesapeake Bay". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
- Jamie Harms (text) and David Folker (artwork) (1986). Chessie: A Chesapeake Bay Story. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Eric Alan Cheezum (2007). Discovering Chessie: Waterfront, Regional Identity, and the Chesapeake Bay. ProQuest Information and Learning Company. p. 230.