Do Plesiosaurs Still Exist?

The plesiosaur is a large, aquatic reptile that lived at the time of the dinosaurs and is said to have gone extinct many millions of years ago. But for years people all over the world have reported seeing them alive and others have even produced photographs of what they claim to be recently dead plesiosaurs. Here is an examination of four of those claims.

The Loch Ness Monster

Dubbed “Nessie,” the Loch Ness monster is the most famous of all alleged living plesiosaurs. Sightings are said to date back to the 7th century when Saint Columba reportedly came across some men burying their comrade. When asked what had happened the men told Saint Columba their friend had been swimming and was attacked and killed by a water beast. The story goes on to state that Saint Columba had a face to face with the monster.

Nessie was first officially reported as a sighting in 1933 and in 1954 the first sonar contact was allegedly made. Crew from a fishing boat noticed that at a depth of 480 feet their sonar was producing readings of something large swimming in stride with their boat.

Many photographs and videos have emerged over the years. Most have been deemed hoaxes or have been explained away as bird wakes, eels, seals or logs. However, with todays Nessie sightings being down and expeditions coming up empty-handed, it is now believed Nessie may finally have gone extinct.


Lake Champlain is a large, fresh water lake located in the Canadian province of Quebec and across the Vermont-New York border. Legends of a plesiosaur-type creature arose from two Native American Indian tribes, the Iroquois and the Abenaki.

In 1883 (50 years before Nessie) the first official sighting of “Champ” was recorded. Although there has been no physical evidence, at least 300 sightings have been reported. And, like the Loch Ness Lake, Lake Champlain is believed to be big and deep enough to sustain a plesiosaur.

Zuiyo-maru Carcass

In 1977 a Japanese fishing boat, the Zuiyo-maru, hauled in the rotting carcass of an unknown sea animal from a depth of 1,000 feet. Examined for an hour the carcass was measured at 33 feet in length and determined to weigh about 4,000 pounds. No one on board could readily identify what they were looking at.

Pictures and tissue samples were taken before the carcass was thrown back into the ocean due to the smell and so it would not contaminate the Japanese catch.

As photographs of the strange creature surfaced, scientists on both sides of the plesiosaur debate jumped in. For many it was conclusive evidence that plesiosaurs still existed. However, several scientists against this idea stepped forward and claimed the carcass was that of a basking shark. These scientists stated that a basking shark can look like a plesiosaur when decomposing.

California’s Nessie

In 1925 a very odd thing washed ashore on Moore’s Beach in Monterey Bay, California. Believed by witnesses to be an elasmosaur, or the largest of all plesiosaurs, it was said to have a 20 foot long neck.

Photographs of the alleged dead plesiosaur were printed and circulated. Scientists said it was the badly mangled body of either a Beaked or Baird’s whale, not a plesiosaur.

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