St. Marks, Florida - Historic Sites & Points of Interest
St. Marks, Florida - Historic Sites & Points of Interest
|St. Augustine Monster
The St. Augustine Monster was a massive blob that
washed ashore in 1896 on Anastasia Island near
historic St. Augustine, Florida.
St. Augustine Monster
The gigantic blob, called a
"globster" by some, was
found near St. Augustine in
Looking out from the top of
the St. Augustine Lighthouse
to the beaches where the
monster was found.
The St. Augustine Monster - St. Augustine, Florida
Florida Sea Monster of 1896!
|Copyright 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: November 15, 2013
Monsters of the South
Whales of St. Augustine
The Atlantic Ocean off St.
Augustine is the spawning
ground of the North Atlantic
Right Whale. Was the sea
monster really a whale?
The inlet forms the southern
end of Anastasia Island. The
remains of the monster were
seen several times as they
drifted along the island.
The St. Augustine Sea Monster washed up
on the beaches of Florida's east coast in
1896. It remains one of the most enigmatic
mysteries of the Nation's oldest city.
1896 could be called the year of American
sea monsters. In April of that year, a crew of
sturgeon fishermen from New Jersey killed a
15-foot long creature that no one could
identify. In June, a 17-foot "sea serpent" was
netted in Pugent Sound near Tacoma,
Washington. July brought a "remarkable
marine monster" to the waters near
Gloucester, Massachusetts. And in August,
an 1,800 pound turtle was captured off Cape
But perhaps the most remarkable incident of
the year took place in November when two
boys found the carcass of a gigantic creature
in the surf of Anastasia Island near St.
The head is as large as an ordinary flour
barrel and has the shape of a sea lion head.
The neck, if the creature may be said to have
a neck, is of the same diameter as the body.
The mouth is on the under side of the head
and is protected by two tentacle tubes about
eight inches in diameter and thirty feet long.
The tubes resemble an elephant's trunk, and
obviously were used to clutch in a sucker-like
fashion any object within their reach. (Rockford
Republic, December 10, 1896.)
Photographs of the creature show a massive
lump of flesh that could best be described as
Dr. DeWitt Webb, the president and founder
of the St. Augustine Historical Society,
examined the monster with help from a
doctor who lived near where it had floated
ashore. Press reports indicate that as late as
December 10 they had "not reached any
definite conclusion as to its identity."
The body was described as being 25 feet
long and although it had shrunk by drying out
was about 4 1/2 feet thick by 10 feet wide.
THe tail was "serrated and jagged with
cutting points for several feet." Two more
tentacles were found connecting to the tail.
Its eyes were under and behind the mouth
instead of over it.
The carcass was severely mutilated and the
investigators speculated that the creature
had been in "a fierce battle" with sharks and
The descriptions of Dr. Webb and his
associate were verified by a clergyman who
happened to be in St. Augustine at the time.
Rev. Dr. John F. Goucher, the president of a
college for women, was among those who
saw the monster:
Some idea of the size of this great monster
may be gathered from the fact that this
mutilated remnant weights about seven tons
and required a half-dozen horses to drag it
away from the sea to a safe altitude. If it is
true that one of its arms has been found and
that it is of the reputed length, then the
creature must have weighed fully 15 tons and
have been between 70 and 80 feet long. (The
State, Columbia, SC, March 8, 1897).
Dr. Goucher believed the monster was a
gigantic octopus, the largest ever discovered.
Others had different theories as to its identity.
The one thing on which they all agreed,
however, was that it was tremendous in size.
So what was it? That question continues to
be debated today.
The first scientific conclusion about the St.
Augustine Monster was that it was an
enormous octopus. Dr. Webb provided
descriptions and photographs to Professor
Addison E. Verrill of Yale University. After
examining the evidence, Professor Verrill
proclaimed the monster to be a previously
unknown species that he named Octopus
Professor Verrill, however, later changed his
mind and decided that the monster was not a
new species but instead was the head of a
gigantic sperm whale.
Samples of the creature were sent to the
Smithsonian in the 1890s, but more than one
century passed before those samples were
given serious examination.
In 1971, comparison of the flesh of the St.
Augustine Monster to other known creatures
suggested that it was an octopus. Amino
acids tests in 1986 reached the same
conclusion. 1995 tests, however, concluded
that the monster was a warm-blooded
mammal. These results were confirmed in
2004 by DNA tests that determined the
samples contained whale blubber.
So was it a whale or a giant octopus? Or was
it a combination of the two? A whaleopus?
While scientists now believe that the monster
was part of a whale carcass, it is true that
they have reached "scientific" conclusions
about its identity many times before, only to
later change their minds. Will they change
their minds again? One thing is certain, the
scientists who examined samples from the
St. Augustine Monster over the years routinely
changed their minds.
Anastasia Island, where the monster was
found, is a popular resort area today. Located
just across the bridge from St. Augustine, it is
famed for its beaches, lighthouse, alligator
farm, lighthouse and more.
Monster & the Deep Blue Sea
The waters off St. Augustine
are filled with mysteries, most
of them historical. The story of
the monster is one of the best