The Louisiana Leviathan

“But more wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of ocean”.
– H.P. Lovecraft

I love the ocean. I’ve had, on a number of occasions, the opportunity to interact with some of it’s fascinating denizens including dolphins and giant sea turtles. Yet the ocean still holds uncounted mysteries and for many it represents a dark, brooding world of unknown horrors. One of those aquatic-figura washed up on shore in Louisiana in 1914.

The Louisiana LeviathanLovecraftian-abnormality was discovered on the southern coast of Louisiana, partly embedded in sand, off Isle Dernier. Once discovered a telegram was sent to President Wilson, Louisiana Congressman Droussard, the Smithsonian Institution and the Louisiana Conservation Commission. The telegram read, in part, “It is our pleasure to announce as your Christmas greeting that the State of Louisiana has furnished history, and science the most wonderful discovery of centuries the Leviathan of Anthology”

At first some thought the creature to be a decomposed whale but further accounts muddied the waters. A few days after the original news story was printed a more detailed description of the monstrosity was released.

The creature was described as having the head of an elephant, with eyes and jaw of a crocodile. It’s tongue was seen to be of a jelly-like construction, porous with suckers and shaped like the trunk of an elephant. The tusks on the monster’s face protrude in a straight line five feet and are eighteen inches wide at the jaw. The size of the beast was given as approximately eighty feet long, sixteen feet wide, and about ninety tons weight.

Was it a decomposing whale? A misidentified Architeuthis? The excitable imagination of polite society? Or was it that which only the darkness of the unreachable deep can create; one of many who sit below the tides waiting for their chance to ensnare we who walk the sandy ground?

1 Comment

  1. Markus

    It was a fishy tale. The New Orleans Times-Picayune and the State Conservation Commission sended an science reporter to Derniere Island (also know as Last Island) which came to the conclusion (naturally) that it was a baleen whale (The Donaldsonville Chief, Jan 9, 1915). The tusks are a common description for the two round halves of the lower jawbone of a baleen whale.

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