Pal Rai

Sea Monster of Alaska.

Etymology: Inuktitut (Eskimo-Aleut) word. Variant names: Tizheruk (on King Island), Yuk.

Physical description: Thick fur. Snake- or crocodile-like head. Short horns. Long tongue. Depicted with three pairs of legs (the middle pair is rudimentary) and three dorsal fins. Tail has a flipper on the end.

Behavior: Rears 7-8 feet out of the water. Carnivorous. Said to attack humans in kayaks. Can be summoned by tapping on boat bottoms or wooden piers.

Habitat: Seen more often in bay areas than on the open ocean.

Distribution: Nunivak and King Islands, Bering Strait, Alaska; also said to frequent the Kuskokwim River, Alaska.

Possible explanation: An unknown species of long-necked Seal (Suborder Pinnipedia), suggested by Roy Mackal.

Sources: Edward William Nelson, "The Eskimo about Bering Strait," Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 18, pt. 1

Searching for Hidden Animals (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1980), pp. 30-31.

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