Eastern Point Lighthouse, Gloucester, MA, photo courtesy Kraig Anderson
Massachusetts’ Gloucester Harbor is known as America’s oldest seaport, supporting fishermen, whalers, traders and even smugglers since 1616. The area is also known for its dangerous currents, ledges, and storms which claimed 779 vessels and 5,305 lives between 1830 and 1910.
But another danger also lurked in the waters nearby – the Gloucester Sea Serpent. The first recorded sighting of the monster was in 1848 by John Josselyn Gent. Gent raised his gun to shoot the monster, but was stopped by an Indian who said killing the serpent would bring bad luck. In 1817, Amos Story, future keeper of Gloucester’s Ten Pound Island Light, reported seeing the beast. He said, “I saw a strange marine animal that I believe to be a serpent… His head appeared shaped much like that of the sea turtle and he carried his head from ten to twelve inches above the surface of the water.” Story ‘s wife also reported seeing the serpent lounging on the rocks, thinks at first it was a log until it slithered into the water. Sixteen other sightings reported the monster who was nicknamed “His Snakeship.” Although the town offered a $5000 reward, the beast was never caught.
Sightings of His Snakeship continued along the coast of Massachusetts during the 1800s. Often seen near lighthouses like the Eastern Point Lighthouse, the creatures were thought to be attracted to the towers or its lights.
Theobold Rooney, keeper at St. Andrews Lighthouse at Sand Reef off New Brunswick, Canada, reported a sea monster passing his lighthouse in 1906. Rooney claimed the beast was twenty to thirty feet long and had a snakelike head.