; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

AWOL Seals & Out-of-Place Sea Lions

By Greg May - In his book, The World's Weirdest Places Nick Redfern mentions a lake monster from Wales affectionately named ‘Teggie’. The Welsh name for Lake Bala – a stone’s throw from the mysterious Berwyn Mountains – is Llyn Tegid. Sightings of ‘Teggie’ began in and around the mid-to-late 1910’s and 1920’s. Unlike her Scottish cousin, ‘Nessie’ – which has been sighted from much earlier times –‘Teggie’ appears to be a newcomer to the cryptozoological world.

It is said that the British military secretly released a number of large seals into the lake during during World War I. The plan was to strap dummy mines to the animals and train them to swim headlong at selected targets such as rowing boats placed strategically in the lake. The seals didn’t take too kindly to being strapped with explosives and made their escape, staying below the water as often as possible. The military closed down the program, left the area leaving the seals to live happily ever after in their new home.

In the early 60’s an oceanarium called ‘Marine Life’ opened at Dania Beach between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. The more established Seaquarium at Miami was too much competition for ‘Marine Life’ so it closed in 1963. The staff released their California sea lions into the Intercoastal Waterway directly behind the oceanarium. One of the sea lions made it around to Florida’s Gulf coast and was captured by Capt. Grady Marlowe - who ran a fishing excursion business. Marlowe gave the sea lion to Marine Attractions Inc. who were constructing the Aquatarium on St. Petersburg Beach. This led to Capt. Grady Marlowe being hired as the Aquatarium’s Director of Collections.

When Marine Studios - later named Marineland of Florida - opened in 1938 California sea lions were part of the exhibit but the dolphins teased and annoyed them so they withdrew to the side of the tank. The sea lions were removed from the exhibit and placed in a pen adjacent to the Intercoastal Waterway. One of them escaped and headed south for Miami - a distance of 300 miles - where he took up residence at a Miami marina becoming quite an attraction. During ‘Butch’s’ sojourn to Miami, there were reports of a ‘sea monster’ appearing along Florida’s Intercoastal Waterway.

In 2005 Hurricane Katrina destroyed Marine Life Oceanarium at Gulfport, Mississippi. The storm surge allowed the dolphins and sea lions to swim out of the tanks. Although the dolphins were recaptured, not all of the sea lions were. So now there are more out-of-place California sea lions swimming in Florida waters. Interestingly, the owner of the demolished Gulfport oceanarium constructed the short-lived one mentioned earlier at Dania Beach.

Nick Redfern: The World's Weirdest Places The Career Press. NJ. 2012.

Thanks to Greg May for his article submission

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