“Globster” Mysteries

May 22, 2017

Cryptozoologists call them “globsters”—great decaying masses usually seen when they wash ashore somewhere. The unidentified carcasses are typically called “sea monsters”—until science determines their true identity. Such a creature—a 50-foot leviathan–appeared on an Indonesian island beach in early May 2017. The rotting corpse was first thought to be that of a giant squid (the “Kraken” of sea lore).

I have been researching such monsters throughout my investigative career. One creature had appeared on a Scotland shore in 1808. Known as the Strousa Beast, it turned out to be the rotting carcass of a basking shark. This large shark decays in such a manner that its jaws fall away to leave what appears to be a serpentine neck and small skull—again and again causing sea serpent reports.

Probably history’s most famous globster appeared as the remains of “an enormous monster” that washed ashore on an island near St. Augustine, Florida, in 1896. The case shows the persistence and corrective nature of science. At the time, the Smithsonian cited the expense of conducting such a remote investigation and decided from available evidence that the creature was a whale. Seventy-five years later, a study utilizing photos, description, and preserved bits of the reportedly invertebrate creature led to the postulation of a gigantic octopus, although that prompted much scientific ridicule. (Such was the status of the case when I included it in my book Entities: Angels, Spirits, Demons, and Other Alien Beings, 1995, 239–240.)

Nearly a quarter century later, the samples were subjected to electron microscopy and biochemical analysis. The results revealed the mass to be “virtually pure collagen,” lacking either the characteristics of invertebrate collagen or the collagen fiber arrangement of an octopus’ mantle. It instead proved to be a large mass of whale (probably sperm-whale) blubber. (See S.K. Pierce et al., “On the Giant Octopus . . .,” The Biological Bulletin 188: 2, April 1995.)

The term globster (linking “glob” and “monster”) was reportedly coined by paranormalist Ivan T. Sanderson after curious remains washed up on a western Tasmainian shore in August 1960. It was subsequently determined to have been the partial carcass of a whale. (See Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark, Cryptozoology A to Z, 1999, 99–100.)

As to the previously mentioned “giant squid” that landed on an Indonesian island beach in 2017, marine experts identified the carcass instead as a baleen whale, based on parts of its protruding skeleton—skull, jaw, vertebra (giant squids being invertebrates)—and apparent baleen plates (that act as a strainer as the marine mammal feeds). That the remains looked unlike a whale was due to decomposition gasses that produced bloating, while the presumed “tentacles” were probably blubber ripped into strips by scavenging sharks. (See Huffington Post May 12, 2017, and UK Daily Mail, May 15, 2017.)