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Old Ned: The Fundy Sea Serpent

Old Ned: The Fundy Sea Serpent

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Published by Charles Francis
Did a descendant the famed Lake Utopia serpent make its way across the Bay of Fundy to Nova Scotia? Was Old Ned, the monster killed in Passamaquoddy Bay more than 100 years ago, another incarnation of the creature?
Did a descendant the famed Lake Utopia serpent make its way across the Bay of Fundy to Nova Scotia? Was Old Ned, the monster killed in Passamaquoddy Bay more than 100 years ago, another incarnation of the creature?

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Published by: Charles Francis on Apr 21, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Old Ned: The Fundy Sea SerpentBack in the early 1950's there was a flurry of interest over the alleged sightingof a sea serpent off Parker's Cove in southwestern Nova Scotia. The report, whichmade the local papers, came from two fishermen, James Longmire and Harry Gregory.Longmire and Gregory, both of whom have since passed away, were in separate boats.The boats were not the large inboard-engine lobster boats we are familiar withtoday but rather the smaller outboard motor driven craft that were in common usethen. The size of the fishermen's boats is important because it provided themwith a close-up view of whatever it was they encountered.According to Longmire and Gregory, the creature was some thirty feet long andsnakelike. It moved through the water in a manner reminiscent of a land boundsnake's undulating style of locomotion. Both fishermen reported the creature cameso close to them that they thought it would overturn their boats.There are still people in the Parker's Cove area who remember this story and knewJames Longmire and Harry Gregory. One of them, Kinsman Gregory, cousin of HarryGregory, has spoken to the veracity of the two fishermen. He also says that thestrange creature that was brought into the Parker's Cove docks in 2002 andidentified as a species of shark seldom found in the Fundy region was probablywhat Longmire and Gregory saw back in the 1950's. Backing up the idea that the seaserpent Longmire and Gregory saw was nothing more than a rare species of shark isthe fact that the decomposed remains of creatures first thought to be sea serpentsand later identified as the remains of basking sharks have been found all aroundFundy.The scientific explanation that Bay of Fundy sea serpents are in reality nothingmore that rare sharks is a simple way of dealing with a subject that many peoplefind fascinating. In fact there are people on both sides of Fundy who will swearto having seen sea serpents. And, the purported existence of Fundy sea serpentsgoes back in time to well before the alleged sighting of a sea creature byLongmire and Gregory.One of the great mysteries of the sea- one that periodically engenders a spate ofnewspaper and other media coverage- is that of the sea serpent. The most famous ofthese creatures of the deep is, of course, Scotland's Lock Ness monster. Oddly,there actually seem to be more tales of landlocked sea serpents like Nessie thanof true oceangoing sea serpents. Lake Champlain on the New York/Vermont border hasChamp and Lake Okanagan in British Columbia has Ogopogo. Pohenegamook Lake on theQuebec/New Brunswick border has Ponik. Then there is the Lake Utopia sea serpent,the creature that some have dubbed Old Ned.Lake Utopia is in southern New Brunswick not far from Passamaquoddy Bay. Thenearest community of any real size is St. George. At various times in recordedhistory the marshy area between Lake Utopia and Passamaquoddy has flooded.Native American lore has it that Lake Utopia was long the home of a great seaserpent. Aboriginal folk myth described the creature as possessing a huge mouthand a set of extremely intimidating teeth. According to Native tradition, duringwinter months, the creature would sometimes break through Utopia's ice to snap atwayfarers walking across the lake. Later, when Europeans began to settle the area,legends of the creature persisted. It was back in the early days of whitesettlement that the creature acquired the rather mundane name of Old Ned.
Legends of Old Ned continue to this very day but there is a caveat to them. It isquite possible that Old Ned met his end at the hands of Passamaquoddy Bay arearesidents in the mid to late 1860's.According to a story that was published in Harper's Weekly in 1868, a mammoth seaserpent was killed on or near Treat's Island in Passamaquoddy Bay. The Harper'sstory credited a now long defunct Maine newspaper, the Bangor Daily Whig, as itssource. Among other things, the article cited a scientist and professor from theSmithsonian named Baird as verifying the creature's existence and gave anitinerary for a tour of the creature's remains. The tour included stops in Bostonand New York City.According to eyewitness accounts, Old Ned- if indeed the Passamaquoddy Baycreature was Old Ned- was enormous. It was over thirty feet long and measured justover twenty feet around the mid section. It had a dorsal fin, stabilizing fins atthe middle and a flat tail like a shark. Its skin was loose like an elephant andit was boneless so that its movements were undulate like a snake. Its mouth wasnearly five feet long. The estimated weight was eleven tonnes. Incredibly, it hadsturdy webbed feet, suggesting it could motivate on land as well as in the water.Its teeth were said to resemble popcorn. If that were so, it means the creaturewas a plant eating herbivore.The creature was dispatched on shore. Witnesses described it still struggling toget away after having been struck with over seventy musket balls. Severalobservers thought it was trying to go in the general direction of Lake Utopia andmany more believed it was in fact the Lake Utopia monster.Stories of sea serpents are as old as man. Ancient Babylonian myths tell of thesea monster Tiamet. Norse mythology has the Midgard Serpent. In the Bible there isthe great Leviathan. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that there would be NativeAmerican tales of marine monsters.In the early 1800's reports of sea monsters in Maritime and New England waterswere an almost yearly occurrence. The most famous of these was the New EnglandSerpent, so named by Gloucester fishermen who encountered it everywhere from theGrand Banks and the Bay of Fundy to Gloucester Harbor.The problem with stories of most sea serpents is that they either fall into thecategory of myth and folk tale or are the reported sightings of only one or twopeople as is the case with the creature reported by Longmire and Gregory offParker's Cove. In the case of the Passamaquoddy creature, however, there were anynumber of witnesses including the Smithsonian scientist Baird. Professor Baird,however, was not able to place the Passamaquoddy monster in any known taxonomy.Professor Baird aside, some seem to think that the Lake Utopia creature or Old Nedfalls into the taxonomic classification of plesiosaur. Plesiosaur wereherbivores, characterized by a long neck, a thick body and long tail. And, theywere quite at home in lakes. The problem with the stories of Old Ned or thePassamaquoddy monster- if they were one and the same- is that members of Old Ned'sfamily still seem to be around.In 1982 a New Brunswick man by the name of Sherman Hart reported seeing a creaturebreak the surface of Lake Utopia and then submerge. Others have reported seeing atrail through the brush and undergrowth created by something large they believedlived in the area of the lake. In addition, there have been reports in New

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