Trunko

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On October 25th, 1924, eye witnesses reported seeing an unidentifiable creature doing battle with two orcas, also known as killer whales, off the coast of Margate South Africa. The battle reportedly raged for upwards of 3 hours, with the unidentified creature using what witnesses perceived to be its’ tail to attack the whales. One of the eye witnesses, Hugh Ballance, described the creature as looking like a giant polar bear, a report which lead to the naming of an article about the creature in London’s Daily Mail. The article, entitled Fish Like a Polar Bear, was reportedly published on December 27th 1924 and outlined the details of the melee.

Though no eye witness accounts pertaining to the conclusion of the battle could be located, the fate of the mysterious creature would be revealed the following day, when its’ corpse washed ashore not far from where the reported skirmish took place. The corpse of the creature was described by locals as being covered in snowy white fur, possessing an elephant like trunk, having no recognizable head, and a lobster like tail. It was measured at approximately 47 feet in length with a width of 10 feet and a height of 5 feet. The trunk was reportedly 5 feet in length and 14 inches in diameter while the tail reportedly measured 10 feet in length. Some reports also state that the animal was void of blood, an odd trait which may help us identify the creatures’ true form later. Since the carcass did not have a discernable head, and because it had such a visible trunk like appendage, reportedly attached directly to the animal’s body, noted British zoologist, media consultant, science writer, and well regarded cryptozoologist Karl Shuker would come to dub the creature Trunko, a name which has stuck with the creature in cryptozoological circles.

Unfortunately, no scientific study was done on the corpse of Trunko during the approximately ten days it spent on the beach before being reclaimed by the sea. Because of this, theories abound as to the true identity of this mystery denizen of the sea. An early article, entitled “Whales Slain by Hairy Monster” reportedly published on March 27th 1925, in the Charleroi Mail, circulated in Charleroi Pennsylvania, reported that Trunko was not slain by the whales after all, but instead vanquished its attackers only to succumb to exhaustion and fall unconscious on the beach, later returning to the ocean under its own power.. However it would be hard to believe that the people who witnessed the corpse first hand would not be able to identify it as being alive, and it is pretty safe to say that corpse of Trunko was just that, a corpse.

But whether or not  Trunko was dead or alive when it washed up on that beach does not help us determine it’s true identity, or does it? It was long speculated that Trunko was nothing more than a globster, so if Trunko was in fact dead on that beach, it would go a long way to support the globster theory. Globster, a term coined by Cryptozoologist Ivan T Sanderson, refers to an unidentified organic mass that washes up on the shoreline of any body of water. Globsters are usually the remnants of very large animals, typically whales or basking sharks, that have been adrift at sea for a long period of time, decomposing as the currents carries it towards its final destination. Along the way the corpse is usually feed upon by all manner of sea creature, and as it continues to deteriorate, the solid, heavier parts of the animal, mainly the skull and backbone, break free of the mass and sink to the ocean floor. This process leaves an unrecognizable, un formed, mass of collagen, fat, bone and other organic material that no longer resembles what it once was. When the mass washes ashore the human imagination runs wild, often seeing things like tusks, trunks, and tentacles that were not part of the original creatures biology. Because no samples of Trunko were taken, there was no way to know whether Trunko was the remains of a real, unidentified creature, or simply the remains of a real, yet unidentifiable creature.

The case of Trunko breathed new life in November of 1930, when the carcass of a 24 foot long elephant headed sea monster with white fur and a 14 foot tail was discovered floating on it’s back among ice bergs from Columbai Glacier in Eagle Bay located in Alaska’s Glacier Island. After being towed to shore by locals, and the flesh being used for bait, the skeleton was preserved and  later examined by a team of scientists led by W.J. McDonald, supervisor of the Chugach National Forest. The team of researchers would go on the tentatively identify the remains of this Trunko like creature as those of a minke whale. The remains, nicknamed Son of Trunko in some circles, made a brief tour around the US and now reside at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.

In September of 2010, Cryptozoologist Karl Shuker revealed that he had discovered several photographs of the original Trunko from 1924. Mr. Shuker, along with his German correspondent Markus Hemmler, discovered the photographs on a long forgotten website. The Photographs were shot by Mr. A.C. Jones of Johannesburg, and were originally published in the Rand Daily Mail in 1925. After examining the imagines, they reaffirmed Mr. Shuker’s previous opinion, first presented in his book Extraordinary Animals Revisited, that Trunko was in fact a globster, and not a mythical, undiscovered sea monster some had hoped it would be.

Written by Sean – PACC Admin

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