The Morgawr is a sea monster that many people have claimed to have seen over the years in the Falmouth Bay area of Cornwall. Its name Morgawr is simply from the Cornish (and Welsh too as it happens) words 'mor' for 'sea' and 'cawr' for 'giant'.
The first recorded sighting dates back to the nineteenth century when in the year 1876, two fishermen claimed they had caught what they described as a sea serpent at Gerran's Bay. Exactly fifty years later in 1926, another group of fishermen caught a creature supposedly twenty feet long with an eight foot tail, scaly legs and a beak-like head.
Morgawr was then quiet for another fifty years until the mid seventies when there was a rash of sightings of the monster.
There were two sightings in 1975; one at the river Helford, near Durgan where two London bankers out on a fishing trip reported seeing a pair of monsters frolicking at the mouth of the river and another at Pendennis Point in Falmouth where a Mrs Scott from Falmouth reported seeing a humpbacked creature with a long neck, stumpy horns and bristles down its back. Mrs Scott described how she'd seen the creature dive and resurface with what appeared to be conger eel in its jaws.
In the January of 1976 there were another two separate sightings off Rosemullion Head and another off Trefusis Point by a woman enigmatically identified only as 'Mary F' photographed the monster. The photographs which were published in a local newspaper the Falmouth Packet, are disappointingly typical of all such photographs and depict a shapeless blob floating on the water that could be just about anything. As it turns out the 'Mary F' photographs, according to an investigation carried out by one Mark Chorvinsky and published in Strange Magazine, were indeed a hoax and believed to be the work of one Tony 'Doc' Shiels.
Another six sightings occurred in 1976 - a family spotted the beast at the mouth of the river Helford once more; a sailor saw a forty foot long 'worm-like' creature pass by as he sailed about thirty miles north-west of the Scilly Isles; a couple in a motorboat saw two large humps in the water off Restronguet Point and a man described a creature like a gigantic eel with humps on its back swimming offshore at Gyllyngvase.
On the 9th July 1976 another local newspaper the Western News, published a report of two fishermen who saw the creature, who said that;
It looked like an enormous tyre about four feet up in the water, with a back like corrugated iron. We came towards it and it could have woken up, because a great head like an enormous seal came out of the water. It just turned it's long neck, looked at us, and slowly submerged. The body was black and the head was grey, and we saw a total length of about 22 feet.
After the long hot summer of 1976 the Morgawr seems to have made itself scarce once more until the January of 1992, when a couple walking along the cliffs in Falmouth saw a creature which they described as looking very much like the Loch Ness Monster.
Then in 1999, at Gerran's Bay a former higher scientific officer at the Natural History Museum by the name of John Holmes claimed to have videotaped the Morgawr. Mr. Holmes of St Austell sat on the film for three years (for fear of being ridiculed) and whilst he believes it to be a genuine monster, one Mike Thomas, the managing director of Newquay Zoo, having examined the video footage believes that Mr Holmes' has captured nothing more exciting than a sunfish.
At least the majority of the sightings offer a fairly consistent description of the monster, in that it appears to be a hump-backed creature around twenty feet long with a long neck. Whether it actually exists or is merely the product of the collective imagination remains an open question but various explanations have been offered as to what the Morgawr might be, aside from the obvious one that it is entirely the invention of the Cornish tourist industry;
- Some kind of plesiosaur which has survived in Cornish water despite the rest of its kind becoming extinct some seventy million years ago. (Although it has been pointed out that a cold blooded reptile such as a plesiosaur would find it difficult to survive in the temperatures off Falmouth Bay.)
- A type of otherwise unknown long-necked seal; an explanation apparently favoured by experts such as Peter Costello and Bernard Heuvelmans.
- Or according to the aforementioned Tony 'Doc' Shiels a 'parapsychical entity', which exists in more than three dimensions and is capable of changing its size and shape at will.
A. Mawnan-Peller The monster of Falmouth Bay
from the The Centre for Fortean zoology at http://www.cfz.org.uk
Further articles on, and references to the Morgawr at;