Saturday, April 2, 2011


Sea-wolf petroglyph at center-left, Nanaimo Petroglyph
Park, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Photo Peter Faris, 1995.

There is a new program on the National Geographic Channel on our cable that is named The Beast Hunter. The host of the program, biologist Pat Spain, searches for mythological creatures that are unknown to science but recorded in the mythology of peoples around the world. Various episodes have followed him in a search for the Mokele-mbembe in Africa, and Mapinguari in the Amazon. This program seems to be basically an exercise is crypto-zoology but is supposedly given scientific credence by the host’s degrees.

One recent episode concerned a search for the so-called Cadborosaurus in the waters around Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Various crypto-zoologists have suggested that the cadborosaurus actually exists and is descended from a relic population of plesiosaurs or mososaurs. Descriptions by witnesses who claim sightings often include a long neck, a serpentine body seen in two or three loops out of the water, and a vaguely horse-like head.

Sea-wolf petroglyph at center-left, Nanaimo Petroglyph
Park, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Drawing after Indian Rock Carvings, by Beth Hill,
Hancock House Publishers, 1980, p.22.

The host used as part of his evidence for the existence of this creature petroglyphs from the Nanaimo Petroglyph Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The petroglyphs illustrated are ones that are usually identified as the “sea wolf” of Northwest Coast mythology. The sea wolf is a mythological sea animal of the Pacific Northwest native cultures of the Haida, the Tsimshian and the Tlingit. This mythological creature that is interpreted in many different forms throughout these diverse cultures often is often portrayed with the head of the wolf and the fins of the killer whale. Native representation of this beast often depicts a long serpentine animal and a dog like or crocodilian head, sometimes with small forelimbs.

Sea-wolf petroglyph, Sproat Lake, Vancouver Island,
British Columbia. Photo Peter Faris, 1995

Is there a “sea wolf”, I certainly cannot say. If such a legendary creature actually is based upon reality it may have been inspired by sightings of the cadborosaurus. Does cadborosaurus exist? I really don’t know although it is hard to picture the existence of such a large sea creature without a little more factual proof. For those of us who enjoy flights of imagination it is an entertaining program, and this episode, at least, provided some really good close-up views of the petroglyphs of Nanaimo which are notoriously difficult to photograph. I suppose that they deserve credit for that.


Hill, Beth
1980      Indian Rock Carvings, Hancock House Publishers, Surrey, BC.

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