Monday, November 13, 2017

A Case for Underwater Aliens?

A Case for Underwater Aliens?
By Scott Corrales (c) 2017

We came from the sea. Perhaps that’s why we stare at so longingly during those long sunset walks on the beach, or those invigorating morning runs. Seeing it in the dark of night fills us with a mixture of equal parts awe and fear, beholding primeval chaos. Even though some scientists are now discussing the possibility of life having originated on land, in pits of volcanic mud, humanity’s bond to the ocean is too deep to be severed by academic theories – deep inside, we know it to be the home we long to return to.

Home it may have been once, but no more. It is the abode of massive creatures of fact and fiction: beyond the sharks and whales of sea stories and documentaries, we harbor the belief in even more fearsome creatures below the surface: the behemoths that in recent years have inspired artists to create nightmarish denizens of the depths that are too terrible to behold. Some of these creations of the human mind appear capable of swallowing not only a hapless diver or even a ship, but an entire island. The depths of the mind are as unfathomable as the abyssal deep.

Beyond these denizens of the world ocean, real or imagined, there are legends in the human past of sentient creatures living under the waves. The Sumerian culture-bearer Oannes came from beneath the water to instruct savage mankind. The Mexican codices tell us of four ages of creation prior to our own, the fourth one having been destroyed by a deluge that lasted not forty days, but fifty-two years, in which only one man and woman survived, the rest having been “turned into fishes.” The fate of this piscified humanity receives no further mention in any chronicle, and Antonio de León y Gama, who compiled them, appears not to have pursued the matter.
Other cultures have also peopled the sea with sentient beings whose lives sometimes intersect our own – Scotland gives us the Blue Men, notorious for swimming along surface vessels and luring sailors into the water. The African mermen known as the Jengu had an equally physical and spiritual nature, playing a significant role in the traditions of a number of tribes. Slavic tradition gives us the Vodianoi, who would put drowned human to work as slaves in their underwater palaces. The list goes on.

As space probes show us spectacular liquid environments to be found in distant moons like Titan and Enceladus, considerations of what sort of intelligent life may have involved under those unimaginable conditions have begun to filter through the Internet. Feverish visions of species evolving under the ice, nourished by the heat from the moon’s subsurface and shielded from cosmic radiation by layers of planetary icecap are dancing across keyboards far and wide.

But setting aside the possibility of intelligent alien life in the outer solar system, we are still left with the possibility that our species may have underwater cousins. Some of those who grew up in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s remember Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and the fearsome aquatic race known as the Sahuagin, sworn enemies of aquatic elves and worshippers of the dreaded shark-god. Little could we have imagined that such imaginary entities could have had counterparts in real life.

A Tropical Nightmare

In his recent book Solo Para Tus Ojos (For Your Eyes Only), published by Spain’s Editorial Planeta in 2016 veteran journalist and UFO researcher Juan José Benítez mentioned a 1969 case from the Caribbean island of Antigua that had been brought to his attention by a U.S. military man stationed there.

According to the soldier’s testimony, he had taken some friends to Mamora Bay, a body of water located in the southwestern shores of the island, for some nocturnal fishing. The group found a choice location among the rocks and arranged their fishing poles. As the sun went down, the soldiers became aware of a group of locals on the beach some distance away, who had lit a bonfire on the sand and stood around it forming a circle. The Americans soon realized that what they took at first to be a friendly gathering was in fact a religious ceremony: the islanders sacrificed a chicken and poured its blood into a wooden bowl, held in the hands of the celebrant, who moved away from the circle to kneel on the sand, facing the water.

“We suddenly saw someone come out of the water,” the soldier told Benítez, recalling the moment. “We were speechless. It wasn’t a skin diver. It was a person, but a lot taller. Standing over six feet tall, he walked slowly and surely toward the men in the circle.”

According to the description given, the figure was lean but well-built, with a row of large, bony plates down its spinal column. It had a tapered head and webbed feet. The entity covered the distance between the water and the group of worshippers in absolute silence. The celebrant rose to his feet and walked to the creature with the bowl of blood. It took it, raised it to its mouth, and drank the vital fluid. After returning the wooden bowl to the human, the entity turned around and retraced its steps back into the water. The locals stood in reverent silence until it vanished under the waves.

“We left our fishing gear behind and ran away,” the soldier told Benítez. “We went back the next day but there was no one there. There was no evidence of the previous evening’s events beyond the remnants of the bonfire.”

No effort was made to make inquiries from the locals (“We didn’t want to get involved”). The Spanish author notes – ominously – that it was clearly not the first time that such a ritual had been performed.

As a side note, we can add that the U.S. maintained a military presence on Antigua since the 1940s, when anti-submarine warfare was conducted against Nazi forces from the Naval air stations on the island. It is possible that Benítez's witnesses were attached to the Antigua Air Station, which closed down in 2015 after seventy years of service.

We can only pause to reflect upon such a narrative. Was the strange presence a physical creature, or a manifestation of the Yoruba deity Olokun, a sea deity more than likely still venerated by descendants of West African slaves? Or could it have been an actual representative of a colony of amphibian humanoids, long sundered from our own kind?

In the late 1970s, two Japanese construction workers had a similar experience. While fishing off the breakwater in the city of Yokosuka, the two friends were terrified at the sight of a figure that emerged straight out of the water. They described it as being neither fish nor human, standing a whopping three meters tall (9.5 ft) and covered in scaly skin. The nightmarish creature trained its yellow eyes upon the fishermen. Was it expecting a ceremonial offering of blood? We’ll never know.

Our Neighbors Underwater

Some two thousand years ago, the Roman historian Pausanias had the opportunity to witness an unusual sight: the carcass of what was described as "a Triton" --one of the sea-god Neptune's helpers--allegedly slain after having come ashore to kill the cattle of the inhabitants of the Greek city of Tanagra. Pausanias reported the creature had "hard, dense scales and stank." Some three hundred-odd years ago, Spain was abuzz with the story of some fishermen from Cádiz who had managed to capture a scaly man shaped like a fish, luring him to their nets with bits of bread. This story soon became enmeshed with the legend of the “Man-Fish of Liérganes”, the account of a man who had gone swimming one day and never seen again, until captured at sea and taken before agents of the Inquisition.

In more recent times, Charles Berlitz (the linguist, also of Bermuda Triangle fame) included a fascinating story in his book Without a Trace about the experience of a commercial diver – Bruce Mornier – who was working in the waters of the island of Bimini in the Bahamas – a possible location of fabled Atlantis, according to Berlitz. The diver and his crew some forty feet above the sandy bottom of the ocean at that location, engaged in salvage work. “A round turtle or big fish,” says the diver, “became visible and I went lower to get a good look. It turned and looked at me at a 20-degree angle.”

To his astonishment, it turned out not to be a turtle, but a long-necked creature with the general appearance of a monkey. “It looked like the face of a monkey with specially adapted eyes for underwater vision. When it got a good look at me, it took off using some form of propulsion that came from underneath.” It darted into an underwater cave and the diver dared not follow. For some reason, Mornier chose to describe the entity as “an underwater abominable snowman”, linking it to the elusive resident of the Himalayan snows for no good reason.

There is the irresistible temptation to draw connections between these putative marine humanoids and fictional works like The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959) and even War Gods of the Deep (1965), but the fact that underwater creatures make for good pulp cinema does not detract from the authenticity of these real life accounts. A manlike creature emerged from a river near Saginaw, Michigan in 1937; batrachian creatures were seen in the mid-1950s in Loveland, Ohio, and in 1955 a woman was very nearly dragged under the surface of the Ohio River by a huge, clawed hand.

In an issue of the late Mark Chorvinsky’s Strange Magazine, Argentinean researcher Fabio Picasso mentioned an incident – also from the 1970s – involving two law students in the coastal city of Mar del Plata whose stroll along the beach was interrupted by the appearance of several lights on the water. “To their great surprise,” writes Picasso, “the lights were in fact five beings that seemed to be in their element, because they walked gracefully. The sea water reached their chests. The creatures were dressed in old-fashioned diving suits and their heads were covered by helmets with a mask and tube going to the back. The men did not see their hands, but the closed being seemed to carry a tube. They were not more than 16.4 yards / 1.5 meters from [the onlookers’ vantage point].” One might surmise that the students actually saw divers working on some sort of offshore project, except that their respiratory devices looked remarkably similar to those allegedly worn by the creatures involved in the Pascagoula, Mississippi abduction of Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker in 1973.