Dorsal Finner

A category of Sea Monster identified by Gary Mangiacopra.

Physical description: Length, 70-100 feet. Diameter, 9-15 feet. Smooth skin, with occasional scales or warts. Dull green to dark brown in color. Yellow, shading to lighter, on the underside. Froglike or alligator-shaped head, 15 feet long. Large green or red eyes. Jaw, 5 feet long, with 6-inch-long teeth. Round neck. One pair of frontal flippers. Large fin standing straight up on the back.

Behavior: Swims rapidly by vertical undulations. Churns up the water. Possibly attracted to ships.

Distribution: Atlantic coast of the United States.

Significant sighting: Captain Delory of the sloop Mary Lane sighted a huge, alligator-like head sticking out of the water southwest of Point Judith, Rhode Island, on August 4, 1888. He estimated its length as 70 feet as it passed close by, its bright green scales glistening.

Present status: Mangiacopra identified five sightings from 1878 to 1888, then seems to have dropped this category.

Possible explanation: Some type of unknown whale.

Sources: "The Sea Serpent Once More," New York Times, August 7, 1888, p. 5; Gary S. Mangiacopra, "The Great Unknowns of the 19th Century," OfSea and Shore 8, no. 3 (Fall 1977): 175-178.

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