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Time to Give the Gloucester Sea Serpent a Chance...and a Name?

Typically the mention of Gloucester, MA, brings to mind images of fishing boats, whale watching tours, and packed summer beaches. But just as Loch Ness has Nessie and Lake Champlain has Champy, to name but a few water monsters, it seems as though Gloucester may have its own (yet unnamed) cryptid.

One of the earliest sightings of the creature dates back to 1638, when a John Josselyn wrote of a serpent coiled up on a rock being spotted by a passing boat. A spate of reports were recorded in the 1800’s in Gloucester and neighboring areas on Boston’s North Shore. And these sightings continued through the 1960’s.

While not all reports agreed on every detail of the creature, the snake like form and surprising length all concur. A report or two might be passed off as delusion, hysteria or “connecting the dots” of a school of whales, but many of these sightings were reported by experienced fisherman who made their living on the sea.

If you head to Gloucester you’re guaranteed a sighting of your own though not likely in the flesh…or scales. On Cressy Beach, a small picturesque beach overlooking Gloucester Harbor is a mural of the sea serpent. According to J.W. Ocker of the website, it was first painted in 1955 by Robert Stephenson. Over the years its been touched up, vandalized, and repainted but through it all this colorful depiction persists.

Another nod to the beast was constructed outside of the Cape Ann Museum in 2017. This bronze and granite statue was unveiled on the 200th anniversary of the first sighting in 1817. While not true to size, this statue by Essex artist Chris Williams is still quite a sight to see at nine feet high with razor sharp teeth and flickering tongue.

To this day there is no physical evidence of the sea serpent and there are theories to debunk this cryptid. I want to believe. I prefer to think that the Gloucester Sea Serpent has just gotten better at playing hide and seek.

1 Comment

Joshua McKerrow
Joshua McKerrow
Apr 12, 2021

Fun fact, Gloucester is believed by some to be the primary source for HP Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Insmouth, a story about a decadent town interbreeding with sea creatures.

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