Freshwater Monster of Arkansas.
Etymology: From the river.
Physical description: Length, 10-36 feet. Weight, more than 1,000 pounds. Smooth, gray skin. Long, pointed object (a beak?) on the forehead. Spiny backbone.
Behavior: Creates a bubbly disturbance in the water. Tail constantly thrashes. Makes a sound between a cow's moo and a horse's neigh.
Tracks: Length, 14 inches long. Width, 8 inches. Three clawed toes. Pads on the heel and toes. Some show a spur extending from the heel. Distance between prints, 8 feet.
Distribution: White River, near Newport, Arkansas.
Significant sightings: Plantation owner Bram-blett Bateman saw a 12-foot, gray thing emerge from a "deep hole" some 60 feet deep in the river, near Newport, on July 1, 1937. It floated a few minutes on the surface, then submerged. He saw it again on September 22. As many as twenty-five other residents, including two deputy sheriffs, saw something that made a lot of bubbles and foam in the river that summer.
On June 28, 1971, south of the White River bridge, Cloyce Warren took a photograph of an animal that had been seen for about ten days. it shows a nondescript object disappearing beneath the water.
Ollie Ritcherson and Joey Dupree were boating on the river July 21, 1971, looking for the
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monster when something lifted their boat upward out of the water. Sightings continued through August.
R. C. McClauglen and his family watched an animal thrash in the river for five minutes near Jacksonport on June 5, 1972. Possible explanations:
(1) A stray Southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina), according to Roy Mackal. However, these bulky, 15-foot seals are found in the southern Atlantic and Pacific oceans surrounding Antarctica, though individuals have been found as far north as the equator.
(2) A large Lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens), with olive-gray coloration and scutes along its back and sides, can grow to 9 feet long. However, Whitey's skin was described as smooth.
(3) A large catfish, possibly a Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus), which can grow to more than 5 feet long.
(4) The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is found in this part of Arkansas, especially in areas where it has been restocked and reintroduced. It may account for some sightings of 10- to 15-foot animals.
(5) Hoaxed tracks, though some were found in unlikely spots.
(6) A giant penguin, suggested by Ivan T. Sanderson, based on the alleged similarity of the tracks with Three-Toes in Florida. Sources: "Fresh-water Monster Dropped,"
Fortean Society Magazine, no. 1 (September 1937): 5; "Arkansas Has a Problem," Pursuit, no. 16 (October 1971): 89-95; Roy P. Mackal, Searching for Hidden Animals (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1980), pp. 198-208; F. G. Wood, "Cryptoletter," ISC Newsletter 1, no. 2 (Summer 1982): 11; Roy P. Mackal, "Cryptoletter," ISC Newsletter 1, no. 3 (Autumn 1982): 10-11; James R. McLeod, "Cryptoletter," ISC Newsletter 2, no. 1 (Spring 1983): 10.
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