Sea monster encounter relived 42 years later
Shag Harbour incident story continues
The 1967 Shag Harbour UFO crash is not the only strange, unexplained occurrence that has happened in Shelburne County over the years.
Shag Harbour UFO Festival goers were treated to an eye witness account of a sea creature encounter, experienced by Cape Sable Island fisherman Rodney Ross in July 1976, while fishing with his father on the fishing grounds known as Pollock Shoal.
The opening night of the UFO Festival (Aug. 3) was only the third time that Ross has told the story to an audience. He is the last of the five fishermen aboard three different boats that saw the creature during a one-week period 42-years ago.
“Some like to call it the South Side sea monster and I think I probably agree it looked like a monster,” said Ross.
The story begins on a Monday when a fellow fisherman, the late Eisner Penney, was out fishing on the Pollock Shoal. He had finished fishing for the day and started for home when he turned around and saw this strange looking creature following behind him, said Ross.
“It was something that kind of scared him, so he opened his boat full throttle and it was still following him. As he increased his speed the creature kept rising out of the water and was 12 to 14 feet out of the water. He was quite scared,” he said. As a tactical move, he steamed toward the shallow waters of the Horse Race where the depth is only two or three fathoms deep. The manoeuvre worked. The sea creature was gone.
When Penney got back to shore and told his story, people didn’t really believe him, said Ross.
“They laughed at him, told him he was crazy and said there had to be some logical explanation for it.”
Then Wednesday came and Ross and his father Keith headed to the fishing grounds. They hadn’t heard about Penney’s encounter so had no idea of what might be in store.
“It was sort of foggy that day,” recalled Ross. After fishing for a while and catching about 500 pounds of cod, the tide turned. Ross said his father went in the cud to have his lunch while he stayed on deck trying a new fishing rig.
With every cast he was catching fish, then nothing, he said.
“Everything got right quiet” except for a “swishing noise. I couldn’t see very far in the fog, so I kept listening and by and by seen this thing in the water. I thought it was something adrift in the water. I looked, and it was moving like a hump with big huge eyes on the top of its head. I mean huge, probably 10 inches across,” likening it to a crocodile.
Ross called to his father to come up on deck and have a look. Together, they watched it going back and forth from the east to the west, “not once looking at our boat and we were right there,” said Ross.
“Except for this one time. It stopped and turned and looked right at us. I could feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck. It started coming at the boat and coming and coming and coming until it was just a few feet away and it reared about 10 or 12 feet out of water and opened its mouth and there were row and rows and rows of teeth sort of like fangs or tusks,” he said.
“You could see its body was full of barnacles and corals and big bunches. It was probably 50 to 60 feet long. Its head was much bigger than its body,” he said, and its tail was vertical. “We watched this thing for about 15 minutes and not one time did it go under, it didn’t blow (like a whale) there was just that swishing noise.”
Once the creature started coming at the fishing vessel, Ross said, “Dad put it in gear wide open and I looked back and it came within inches of smashing our boat. I know in my heart if it wasn’t for my father’s quick thinking I wouldn’t be here to tell this story. He saved our lives that day.”
Outrunning the creature, the two fishermen stopped and listened.
“We heard the sound again,” said Ross. Not taking any chances and seeing another boat on the radar about a mile away, they decided they should steam down and tell them what they saw before heading home. It turned out to be Eisner Penney, the same fisherman that saw the creature two days before.
“He said you don’t have to tell me what you see. I seen it Monday and just hauled his anchor we went to land together.”
The third encounter happened on the Friday, when the late Edgar Nickerson and his son Robert went fishing to the Pollock Shoal.
“Edgar was bragging on the set, ‘I guess I got the Pollock
Shoal all to myself. Everybody is scared of this fish.’ He no more than said it and up came this thing close to his boat.”
The Nickersons also made it back to shore safely. Ross recalled telling the story to two retired fishermen in the community the day it happened and was told that in 1934 two fishermen out of
South Side that had an experience much the same.
“It was a scary creature,” said Ross, adding he thinks it was some sort of dinosaur or prehistoric creature from the ocean deep.
Cape Sable Island fisherman Rodney Ross holds up a clipping from the July 14, 1976, Yarmouth Vanguard that chronicled the story of the encounter by five fishermen aboard three fishing boats with a mysterious sea creature.
Third-generation ocean explorers Fabian Cousteau and Celine Cousteau, grandchildren of the legendary Jacques Cousteau, listen to witnesses of the 1967 Shag Harbour UFO incident tell their stories at the Shag Harbour UFO Conference on Aug. 3. The Cousteaus, along with a film crew, were in the area filming a documentary about the UFO incident.
Cape Sable Island fisherman Rodney Ross tells his story of an encounter with a sea creature in 1976 to Shag Harbour UFO Festival goers on Aug. 3.
A drawing of the sea creature seen by five Cape Sable Island fishermen in 1976 that appeared in an issue of the Bluenose magazine that year.