Yellow Belly

A category of Sea MONSTER identified by Bernard Heuvelmans.

Physical description: Tadpolelike shape. Length, 60-100 feet. Pale yellow. Large, flat head. One black longitudinal stripe along the spine. Black transverse bands on its sides. Immense, cylindrical, tapering tail.

Behavior: Usually seen May-September. Swims with vertical undulations.

Habitat: Prefers tropical waters.

Distribution: Indian Ocean; Pacific Ocean.

Significant sightings: On September 11, 1876, Captain John K. Webster and surgeon James Anderson of the steamer Nestor saw a huge, yellow animal with distinct, black stripes in the Strait of Malacca off the coast of Malaysia. It remained in view about thirty minutes, moving around the ship. They could see no fins or flippers.

A Sea monster was seen by several people off the Dolphin Coast not far from Umhlali, KwaZulu Province, South Africa, on October 4, 1885. It was yellow with a dark dorsal stripe, had fins that struck the water on each side, and appeared to be about 90 feet long.

Possible explanations: Heuvelmans suggested an unknown type of shark or an amphibian.

Sources: Times (London), September 28 and December 20, 1876; Richard A. Proctor, "Strange Sea Monsters," Echo (London), January 15, 1877; Andrew Wilson, Leisure-Time Studies (New York: R. Worthington, 1879); A. G. L. Jourdan, "A propos du Serpent de mer,"

Chinese poster that asks, "Have you seen the wildman?" (Yf-REN). (Fortean Picture Library)

La Nature Supplément 53 (December 12, 1925): 185-186; Bernard Heuvelmans, In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents (New York: Hill and Wang, 1968), pp. 269-272, 565.

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