By Ron VandenBoom
Having covered the Loch Ness Monster and the Bermuda Triangle in earlier columns I decided this week to keep my toe in the water by investigating one of the oldest mysteries man has ever known sea monsters.
Ever since man went down to the sea in ships the issue of sea monsters has highlighted stories around the campfires throughout the world.
Where else but in the deep, dark, briny, ocean depths that cover three fifths of the planets surface is man more likely to discover, or be vulnerable to, some unknown monster.
In my continuing search to find the truth about these mysteries, I once again dove into the murky waters of the Web to see what useful information lurked in its undiscovered recesses.
Not surprisingly, I had little trouble finding stories, tales, and myths about sea monsters that have lingered in the archives of popular folk tales for centuries.
But what struck me most was not a tale centuries old, but a modern day mystery that is complete with photographic evidence and eye witnesses.
The story began in 1977 when a Japanese trawler named the Zuiyo-maru hauled on board the decayed carcass of what, at first glance, appeared to be a marine reptile that strongly favored a long extinct plesiosaur. Plesiosaurs are supposed to have disappeared some 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous Period.
Several photographs of the carcass and samples of the flesh were taken before the smelly remains were pushed overboard by the crew of the Zuiyo-maru.
This was the first time photographic, as well as physical evidence, of the existence of some kind of a sea monster had been taken for scientific study.
Examine the results of the tests and view the photographs by visiting http://members.aol.com/Paluxy2/plesios.htm.
The conclusion of the report first published by the National Center for Science Education provides an abundance of evidence that what was really captured in the nets of the Japanese fishermen was not a plesiosaur, but a common ordinary shark basking shark to be exact.
While the evidence either way is not entirely conclusive, it is somewhat compelling. Studies done on the carcass by reputable Japanese scientists seems to confirm the basking shark theory.
Unfortunately, little publicity was given the less sensational results of the scientific investigation conducted primarily on the tissue samples that identified the substance as shark.
Of course, one can argue that scientists have no way of telling how shark tissue might have compared to the tissue of the plesiosaur since no plesiosaur tissue survived to the present day. Nor can it be proven that the only possible candidate was a basking shark.
The photographic evidence is also suspect in that while it is already known how basking sharks decay after death, and what they are likely to look like, it is not known how a plesiosaur might decay and what it might look like.
This site offers a scholarly look at both sides of this on-going debate.
Dont look for movies or other entertaining features here. This site is as dull as they come, with only the printed word to stimulate your imagination. It just happens to be the most scholarly investigation of the subject I found.
If you would like to investigate some of the other mysteries from the depths, surf over to http://unmuseum.mus.pa.us/index.htm and click on main entrance. You can examine all the pop monster stories that today inhabit the campfires of modern American lore.