White River Monster
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|White River Monster|
|Sub grouping||River monster|
|Similar creatures||Elephant seal|
Some believe the White river monster may have had an impact on the Civil War. The river was used for transportation, and the monster was supposedly responsible for overturning a boat. Sightings of the monster began in 1915. On July 1 of that year, an owner of a plantation near the river saw the monster. He reported it having gray skin and "as wide as a car and three cars long." As the news spread construction of a rope net began, but ended due to lack of money and materials.
The White River Monster was sighted again in the summer of 1971. That year, eyewitnesses who encountered the creature described it as "the size of a boxcar" with a bone protruding from its forehead. "It looked as if the thing was peeling all over, but it was a smooth type of skin or flesh," said one, and it made strange noises that sounded like a combination of a "cow's moo and a horse's neigh." Other accounts of the White River Monster described three-toed tracks, 14 inches (360 mm) in length, on Towhead Island leading down to the river through a path of bent trees and crushed bushes.
According to scientists, the White River Monster is likely a case of mistaken identity. Cryptozoologist and biologist Roy P. Mackal has suggested that the creature is "a clear-cut instance of a known aquatic animal outside its normal habitat or range and therefore unidentified by the observers unfamiliar with the type." Mackal believes that the creature is in fact a large male elephant seal that wandered up the Mississippi River into White River. Measuring an average of 5,000 pounds (2,300 kg) and 14 feet (4.3 m) in length, a male elephant seal shares many of the characteristics described by those who've encountered the "monster": gray skin, three-toed tracks, summer molting and a farm animal's call.
Mackal's hypothesis does not cover how an elephant seal might have come to be in the Mississippi via the Gulf of Mexico, as the North Atlantic has no elephant seal population, although large male hooded seal's have occasionally been found as far south as Florida, California & and even the Caribbean, Furthermore elephant seals live an average of only about fifteen years (though one could conceivably survive longer in an area free of predators) and the White River Monster sightings were reported over an excess of fifty years. Another theory is more than one has wandered up the Mississippi River as sightings continue.
- The white river monster was featured in the 2009 Lost Tapes episode, "White River Monster".