Following the Indian Army’s claims that yeti footprints were photographed by its elite mountaineering unit, renewed interest has been sparked in coastal B.C.’s own mystery beast – Cadborosaurus.
“Caddy” as the creature is affectionately known, is either a sea creature unknown to science or a range of well-known mammals variously misidentified over the years, depending on who you ask.
Skeptics sigh and point at basking sharks, whales or giant oarfish as the culprits behind the legend, but cryptozoologists think animals in Indigenous folklore could be real and should be investigated.
First Nations from Alaska down to B.C. have similar stories of a sea monster, variously named but with closely matching descriptions, operating in northern Pacific waters. The Manhousat people’s hiyitl’iik closely matches modern descriptions.
Since the 1930s there have been hundreds of reports from yachtsmen, fishermen and observers on land of strange creatures, all given the name Cadborosaurus, after a particularly famous sighting in Cadboro Bay.
Today, a group of enthusiasts run the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club (BCSCC), inspired by the romantic, perhaps Quixotic, idea of scientifically proving elusive creatures exist, such as Caddy.
BCSCC acknowledges that the sightings have produced very different reports, with some describing reptilian or amphibian beasts, while others have seemed more mammalian.
“The only ones we’ve ever had possession of, including the 1937 Naden Harbour, Haida Gwaii carcass, has tended to look more mammal even though it’s rather serpentine in aspect. Cadborosaurus is a generic title that applies to all of them, but in recent years we’ve felt the mammal type found at Naden Harbour is what we’re going to call Cadborosaurus because it by far matches the description of the majority of witnesses,” says John Kirk, co-founder and treasurer of BCSCC.
The Naden Harbour carcass refers to an animal pulled from the belly of a dead whale. Some say it was simply a fetal baleen whale, while Kirk claims newspaper reports of the time describe is as looking more like a mammal and being covered in hair.
Most Cadborosaurus sightings describe a 30- to 70-foot snake-like creature, with a head the shape of a horse and four webbed flippers.
The group say that due to a “preponderance of sightings” in Alaska and local Indigenous groups describing a similar mythical creature, they speculate that if Caddy does exist he comes from Alaska.
In order to catch one of the animals on camera, the group maintain cameras at strategic points, including at Deep Cove, in Saanich Inlet, which have been operated since 1999. The most recent digital iterations run 24/7.
In 2009, fisherman Kelly Nash claimed to film a sea monster close to Caddy’s description in Nushagak Bay, Alaska.
Skeptics dismiss the video as shaky and inconclusive, but the BCSCC says they will continue to investigate.
“We don’t want to prove this to anybody except for our own personal satisfaction, to ensure they are catalogued and their habitats are conserved. We certainly wouldn’t want the Cadborosaurus species to die off,” says Kirk.