Mythical Monday: The Montauk Monster by Mae Clair

If you have even a passing interest in cryptozoology—the pseudo-science devoted to the study of animals that may exist but haven’t been proven to exist—you know that cryptids come in many varieties. From the aquatic Loch Ness Monster to the forest-loving Bigfoot and beings such as the Mothman that lurk around abandoned sites, cryptids haunt different terrains and habitats. Their knack for elusiveness is extraordinary, a testament as to why we only have grainy images, breathless onlooker accounts, and/or occasional snippets of sound to suggest they exist.

But what if a clear photo materialized to support eyewitness testimony? Hoax or legitimate proof?

Take the case of the Montauk Monster, an unidentified creature that washed ashore on a beach in Montauk, New York in July of 2008. Most people know that when a body (or animal carcass) is submerged in water for a prolonged period of time, it alters the subject’s physical form, sometimes bloating and distorting it beyond recognition.

Is that what happened to Montauk’s celebrated find?

Driftwood on a beachThe story begins on July 12, 2008, when Jenna Hewitt, a Montauk resident, and three of her friends were strolling along Ditch Plains Beach, a popular surfing spot, in search of a place to sit. Noticing a large crowd gathered around something lying on the sand, they took a closer look.

What they found was a creature that defied description, a pale, bloated dog-like thing with a hooked beak. The animal was so bizarre looking that Hewitt later joked it might have been something that escaped from Plum Island—a nearby center, specializing in animal disease.

She snapped a picture of the creature, an image that eventually ended up in several newspapers and found its way onto the internet where it exploded and became an overnight sensation.

Interestingly, the carcass of the creature disappeared, spirited away by a man who remains unidentified. As images circulated and weblogs surfaced, zoologists and other wildlife experts waded into the ring. Several speculated the creature could be a raccoon, its ghastly appearance the result of being submerged in the water for an extended period of time. Others suggested a turtle, and still others a dog or sheep. In all circumstances, there were those who refuted the claims—the legs were too long for a raccoon, sea turtles lack fur and teeth, and so on.

So, what exactly is the Mantauck Monster? To this day, its true identity remains a mystery shrouded in a cloud of speculation. Why not weigh in with your own opinion? You’ve likely seen this photograph before, but perhaps didn’t connect it with the story of the Mantauck Monster. Take a look now, then hop back here to share your thoughts about this potentially new cryptid. You can see multiple images here.

Freaky, wouldn’t you say?

21 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: The Montauk Monster by Mae Clair

  1. The images are very strange. I recall this story surfacing a while ago and was bemused by it then. The creature is so very odd. Every time I think, oh it must be, then I shake my head, no it can’t be. I wonder what it really is? I’d not like to meet it for sure. Great piece, Mae.

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    • It’s so odd, isn’t it. I know prolonged submersion in water does horrible things, but it’s so odd looking. And the fact that it vanished without a trace….what’s that all about? It really makes you wonder.

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    • Flossie, that’s actually one of the theories…it was something that escaped from Plum Island. That some weird experiment must have taken place there to mutate it, and that’s why someone showed up to whisk it away. So bizarre.

      And, wow, I remember The Island of Doctor Moreau. Read the book and watched the movie several times each!

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  2. Wow! I’ve never seen it, to be honest. When I look at the pics I think, Chupacabra. Funny thing about your post, I dreamt last night about dinosaurs and dragons, and being hunted by them. Kind of fits! We were flying over water too! 👀🙀

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    • LOL! You must have been channeling a Mythical Monday of your own without even realizing it. Soaring with dinosaurs or dragons would be cool, but not being hunted by them!

      Chupacabra is a good thought. It does kind of look like the sketches of one, doesn’t it? Poor thing. I always thought it was weird too, that it washed up on a beach and not a river or lake somewhere. As if maybe it was dumped from a boat?

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  3. I remember seeing this and quite honestly, I had no idea what it was…and I still don’t. I wonder who took the body and why? That’s disturbing in itself… Interesting post Mae. Maybe this creature will have to find its way into one of your books!

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    • I think the guy showing up and absconding with the body is the weirdest part of all. It never materialized anywhere after that, so why did he take it? Couldn’t have been for profit. So, of course, the hush-hush conspiracy theory fits better 🙂

      And yet another one for the writing list, LOL!

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  4. The name Montauk sounded familiar and then I realized it rang a bell about Montauk Project. I’m sure you read about this conspiracy theory.
    So, what I want to say is that just yesterday I read a bit about MUTO. The term “MUTO” (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) is a military acronym used to identify giant creatures that are yet to be named. Of course this creature isn’t one but it makes me wonder how little we know about the world we live in.
    Can this Montauk creature be a sort of breed between species as result of experiments that was lost or thrown after it died?
    I found an online magazine – Fortean Times Magazine. It has a forum with interesting discussions on topics you arefond of, Mae.

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    • Oh, Carmen, I love Fortean Times Magazine! One of these days I must break down and subscribe. For now, I just snatch certain issues for my iPad and read them here and there online. It has a great wealth of information on all manner of speculative thought and bizarre creatures. I wasn’t familiar with MUTO, but that would definitely make an interesting story line for a present day thriller. Dang, if only I had more time to write! Sooo many book ideas and so little time!
      Thanks so much for sharing!!

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