In 1937 the Naden Harbour whaling station in the Queen Charlotte Islands was abuzz with the news that some flensers had discovered a strange animal in the stomach of a recently harvested whale. The creature was about ten feet long and had odd characteristics such as a camel-like head, a long elongated body of serpentine proportions and curiously shaped fins (above) and tail.
The station manager, F. S. Huband, and G. V. Boorman, the acting medical officer, took photographs taken of the animal and despatched tissue samples taken from the remains to the Fisheries station in Nanaimo and to the Provincial Museum in Victoria for analysis. Tragically, the tissue samples sent to Nanaimo vanished and the samples sent to Victoria were wrongly identified by curator Francis Kermode as belonging to a fetal baleen whale and no one knows what happened to them after Kermode examined them. So the only tangible proof of the existence of heretofore previously legendary animals was lost forever. However two sets of the photographs were discovered by Captain William Hagelund, who published a selection in his book “Whalers No More”, and also by Paul LeBlond who included them in his book “Cadborosaurus: Survivor of the Deep”.
The samples and photographs which were sent to the Provincial Museum in Victoria and erroneously identified by Kermode bothered a living witness to the Naden Harbour creature still alive today. James Wakelen, has told the BCSCC that there is no way that the creature he and other removed from the flensed whale was a fetal baleen whale. He is adamant to this day that what he saw was an unknown creature the likes of which he has not seen before of since in any book or film.
Sightings of this creature or creatures - as is more appropriate in view of the fact that there appear to be several varieties of animal - continue unabated to the present time. One sighting was obtained by BCSCC Vice-president and noted artist, Jason Walton, in April, 1998. The creature was also seen by Tim and Laurice Mock and family, who had previously sighted it in 1996, This allowed the Mocks to be counted as some of the few who have had more than one sighting of Cadborosaurus along with the late Cyril Andrews.
Captain Hagelund also has the distinction of being one of only four persons to have actually apprehended a live Cadborosaurus. While taking his family on a yachting journey around the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, Captain Hagelund anchored for the night at the exotically-named Pirate’s Cove off Decourcey Island. The calm of the evening was shattered by the noise of something making splashing sounds just off the starboard side of the yacht. When Capt. Hagelund strode over to take a look at what was causing the noise, he was sharply taken aback by the sight of a totally unknown creature gazing up at him as it swam near the yacht. Lowering a dinghy, the Hagelunds decided to pursue the creature and bring it aboard for closer scrutiny and did not feel in any particular danger as the creature was only about 16 inches in length.
Using a small net the Hagelunds managed to snare the creature and promptly placed it in a large bucket of seawater. The small aquatic cryptid was like nothing any of the Hagelund clan had ever seen with its armoured plates, strange elongated snout, odd forward flippers, yellow downy fuzz and bilobate tail which may in fact have been rear flippers similar in shape to those of seals and sea lions. The creature was agitated for most of the evening and Hagelund ultimately had abandon plans to take the animal to a Fisheries Department Station at Nanaimo, B.C. to have it identified. Capt. Hagelund realized that there was the distinct possibility that Cadborosaurus might not survive the night in the confined spaces of a bucket and so reluctantly released it to the sea from whence it came. The animal sped off into the distance and may perhaps been sighted again when it had become a far larger fully-grown specimen.
Phyllis Harsh, a resident of John’s Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington state, helped return a stranded baby “dinosaur” specimen to the water in the summer of 1991. The baby had become beached and using a tree branch, Mrs Harsh lifted the animal back into the sea where it was able to make its way back into deeper water. Mrs Harsh has also stated for the record that she found what appeared to be a “dinosaur” skeleton beneath an eagle’s nest also on John’s Island as well as having seen a full-size Caddy specimen in John’s Island Passage in 1990.
In 1998, fishermen aboard a fishing vessel at anchor in Ganges Harbour, Saltspring Island, British Columbia came across a strange catch in their catch of the day. For fearing of contaminating the rest of the catch, the men quickly dispatched the creature over the side. However, the mystery animal simply would not leave the minds of the two fishermen and they made it their quest to find out just exactly what it was they had seen and discarded. They consulted volumes on the various types of marine creatures which inhabit British Columbia coastal waters, but none of the books depicted any animal remotely like the one they had seen. It was only when they discovered Capt. Hagelund’s drawing of the juvenile Cadborosaurus he had snagged in 1967, and also after they had seen photos of the Naden Harbour carcass of 1937 that they realized that a Cadborosaurus had actually been in their possession.
Operation CaddyScan had set up video cameras at a location in Saanich Inlet following a Cadborosaurus sighting days earlier and on July 26th, 1999 an unusual creature with an undulating locomotion swam into view of the camera and stayed in view for over two minutes. No animal known to inhabit British Columbia waters locomotes like the creature in the video except for Cadborosaurus and its freshwater counterpart, Ogopogo of Okanagan Lake. This is possibly the second piece of footage obtained of Cadborosaurus following the capturing of a large reptilian head on film in the 1970s. Gary Liimatta of Vancouver Island filmed the creature during a spell on the water at some point during a calm evening. It is hard to tell exactly what Gary captured but the head bears a cursory resemblance to a giant turtle.
The most recent sightings of this creature have taken place at Qualicum Beach and Victoria respectively in November and December of 2006. The Victoria sighting took place just 40 metres offshore while the Qualicum event saw the animal raise its tail out of the water, exposing a rear appendage like that seen in the Naden Harbour carcass photos.
It is the belief of the BCSCC that Cadborosaurus (known by the coastal some of the First Nations peoples of B.C. as Hiyitlik, also known locally as Tzarta-saurus, Sisiutl, Penda, Amy, Saya-Ustih, Sarah the Sea Hag, Kaegyhil-Depgu’esk, Say Noth-kai and Klematosaurus, ) is not limited to the waters of British Columbia alone and is to be found from Alaska (where it is known as Pal-Rai-Yuk) to the Gulf Of Monterey in California. It is a distinct possibility that the Stinson Beach, California sea serpent seen by Marlee Matlin and others in 1983 and the San Francisco Bay serpent seen and photographed by Bill and Bob Clark may well be members of the Cadborosaurus brood. This also applies to a number similar aquatic cryptids seen off the Oregon and Washington coast known variously as Colossal Claude and the Yachats serpent.
Although it is thought that this creature has tended to remain in the deeper oceanic waters off the coast of British Columbia it has been seen in and around Vancouver at Siwash Point, Stanley Park, Burrard Inlet, Indian Arm off North Vancouver; False Creek; Kitsilano Beach: at the mouth of the Fraser River off UBC and in the river at the foot of Main Street. Sightings around Victoria have taken place at the Inner Harbour; Cadboro Bay: Oak Bay; Cordova Bay; off Dallas Road; Race Rocks Chatham Island; Witty’s Lagoon; Willow Beach; Sooke and Ross Point.
There have been a number of misidentifications of decomposed basking shark carcasses that have been mistaken for Cadborosaurus and these include remains found at Effingham, Prince Rupert, Henry Island, Fircom and Kitsilano Beach. Other carcasses and bones found have not been properly identified and these include those found at Barkley Sound and Ucluelet.
Feeding habits of the creatures have been difficult to determine but they have been seen swimming after schools of fish. However, on seven occasions, eyewitnesses have reported seeing the creature attack seagulls and ducks and several of these attacks, the marine megaserpent was seen swallowing whole the waterfowl.
Bousfield and LeBlond have recommended that the Caddy animals be properly classified as Caborosaurus willsi in accordance with the rules of International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN). The creature was named in honour of Archie Wills, editor of a Victoria, B.C. newspaper who devoted many column inches to the creature and vigorously amassed a myriad sighting reports of the creature’s activities. A formal paper on the process of classifying the creature appears in Amphipacifica.