The Canvey Island Monster has been classed as a ‘cryptid’ – an unidentifiable species of creature, inline with the Loch Ness Monster, and Bigfoot, as a few examples. In November 1953, a strange marine creature was washed up on Canvey at the beach, soon after the Canvey Floods. It was described as being 73cm/2.4ft in length, and having ‘thick reddish-brown skin and bulging eyes, and gills.’ It was also said as having ‘hind legs with five-toed horseshoe-shaped feet with concave arches – which appeared to be suited for bipedal locomotion – but no forelimbs.’ and its remains were soon cremated, as zoologists for some reason said it to be of no danger to the public.
Resident Colin Day describes himself coming across the carcass as a boy:
I was THERE. I was a young lad of nine at the time. I noticed a group of peers in a crowd on the beach. Kids were prodding it with their spades. I ACTUALLY TOUCHED IT ! I thought it was a person at first as I could only see part of it through the crowd. Its flesh was NOT fish-like….Scales. It was a pinkish colour and looked like wobbly human flesh with cellulite (orange peel texture). I remember shouting to the other kids…”It’s a mermaid” over and over. I have to say that even at 66, my long term memory is excellent, especially about the day I saw my first mermaid.
However, a year later in 1954, another beast was found. It was ‘described as being similar to the first but much larger, being 120cm (3.9 ft) long and weighing approximately 11.3kg (25lb). It was sufficiently fresh for its eyes, nostrils and teeth to be studied though no official explanation was given at the time as to what it was or what happened to the carcass.’ The size of a child! It has been speculated as most likely to have been either an anglerfish or even more likely a frogfish.
In 1999, Fortean journalist Nicholas Warren carried out an investigation into the 1953–54 sightings. He was unable to locate any official records at the Plymouth Marine Biology Association Laboratory or the National Rivers Authority identifying the creature as being a known or unknown specimen, but was able to find accounts from locals who believed the creature was an anglerfish. This determination was later seconded by Alwyne Wheeler, former ichthyologist for the Department of Zoology at the British Natural History Museum, who put forward that the creature was an anglerfish whose pronounced fins had been incorrectly described as being hind legs
In relation to the events of 1953-54, Joe and I made a short film called ‘The Canvey Island Monster Returns’, which imagines it comes back to attack residents, in a kind of ‘spoof news report’ fashion (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZA2pK6ixGk). We made this in the early days of Beyond the Point in 2011, following up with a sequel the year later containing much more action and adventure (http://www.metacafe.com/watch/9309680/the_canvey_island_monster_returns_part_ii/). Joking aside, we also followed it with an audio-based documentary on the actual history behind the monster seen below. Do remember these are all amateur videos made several years back.