California “Sea-Ape”?

A California Mermaid – The account of the voyage of Hernando Grijalva to the Gulf coast of Lower California, (1823,) describes a mermaid which Grijalva professed to have seen. The object[,] when seen near by, resembled nothing more than a monkey. It leaped out of the water and jumped back again, with its hands moving very quickly, and then looked us in the face; floating in the water as in an attude [sic] of sitting, until a bird disturbed it, when it dived down again and came up on a short distance from us; we saw it for more than an hour. Its lively appearance and strange manner almost made us believe we had seen an apparition of the Blessed Virgin, (Our Lady,) for we saw it on all sides. At this place we also saw in the water great numbers of live snakes of bright colors, and looking like rattlesnakes.

The fish we describe is of the resemblance of the figure: with a dog’s head and eyes, arms like a man, breast and body like a woman, with a long tail like a fish and divided at the end like a swallow’s tail; but we could not make out whether it had scales or not, though it appeared to be covered with scales on its lower part. Its color was like that of the porpoise. The arms and hands it showed well when we saw it jump into the air out of the sea. Grijalva gives three outline figures of this animal in his voyage, of which the compiler of this collection of documents says: “That the figure of this impression we have faithfully copied, and reduced to one-third of the original.” It must have been of the size of a sea otter when seen in the otter, so we judge.

This account may seem to doubters a sea yarn; but it is confirmed by Padre Clavijero, in his 1790 history of Lower California, and on the Gulf. Such an animal would be a prize to any museum in Europe or America. It seems, however, that it is a rare animal even in Lower California.The Columbia [Pennsylvania] Spy, March 7, 1863

For more on reports of historical “Sea Apes,” see pages xi, 37, and 64-65, in The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates (NY: Anomalist Books, 2006).

Thanks for this historical item from Jerome Clark.

Thank you all for a good 2007 initial release of MA7. It still needs your purchases to keep this going. Appreciation.