October 12, 2020 by Bret Kramer (aka WinstonP)
Block Island (I always need to double-check to make sure I spell it correctly and not as if it was named for Robert Bloch) has plenty of ghost stories and even a few tales of witchcraft, but as far as I know, it did not have an associated sea monster legends until the summer of 1996. That is when two sailors onboard the fishing boat Mad Monk pulled a 14′ long cartilaginous (and snake-like) skeleton from the waters off of the island (which is part of Rhode Island, from which is sits 14 miles off its coast). The pair hauled the remains back to shore and displayed them on some rocks along the harbor shore.
Soon the remains were drawing a crowd, strange cross-promotional deals and even a cocktail named for it.
One of the onlookers who came to examine the remains is a Nee York state biologist (and friend of one of the sailors) who agrees to store the remains in a freezer… from which the creature’s remains vanished at some point from June of 1996 to 1998. All that remains are the memories and souvenirs.
Most experts think the “monster” was nothing more than the rotten fragments of a basking shark; as the skull and spine are the most durable part they can look rather serpentine once most of the body has rotted away. The Zuiyo-Maru carcass is thought to be a larger basking shark less far along in its decay.
The New England Legends podcast covered the Block Ness Monster last summer, including comments from one of the sailors who found the monster. It is an interesting listen. On a stranger note, the ‘monster’ has lent its name to an eye-shadow, which is the first time I have encountered the intersection of make-up and cryptozoology.