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Saturday, 3 December 2016

THE JELLY SQUID OF LONDON BRIDGE

A Mysterious Medusa or Ancient Cephalopod?

As recently as April 2014, 2 brothers witnessed a strange creature in the River Thames whilst walking across London bridge. 
The brothers described the creature as having a greyish featureless and slightly elongated square head, with what looked like lots of green tentacles or tassels at the bottom, around 5ft long and as thick as a mans body. The creature was sighted to the left of the bridge on the surface of the water and swimming against the current. After about 1 minute of submerging and surfacing they finally lost sight of it.
1 of the brothers said the creature had a metallic/mechanical feel to it, but that it was also definitely a biological creature. 


Witness sketch of 
the Jellysquid by Loz Price
The brothers tried to take photographs of the creature with their camera phones, but the quality and distance proved too poor. Both maintain that quite a few persons were present at the time and that they called their attention to the object and that some discussion took place amongst the crowd as to what it might be. 
Loz maintains that it was neither a squid nor a jellyfish, although his sighting seems to have some features of both.


The story continued a year later when 1 of the brothers took his son out mudlarking underneath London bridge when the river was at low tide.  His son, ordinarily a very calm and confident boy, suddenly became hysterical and demanded to leave the area, claiming that he could feel something in the water watching them. Significantly, his son was not aware of the sighting his father and uncle had experienced at that very spot 1 year before. 


This sighting is very unusual and somewhat unique, something like a creature resembling both a squid and a jellyfish. It certainly does not match any currently known Medusozoa or Cephalopod species known to science. 


After some research I found out that in May of 2014 a giant Bell Jellyfish, 4ft across was photographed in a Cornish river  and that many of these types of jellyfish, although not typically sighted in rivers, are frequently sighted along the coasts of Britain.  But the Bell Jellyfish is an orange pink hue and does not match the description of the London Bridge creature at all. 
Giant Bell Jellyfish in The Helford River Estuary,
May 2014.


Perhaps a large squid could be responsible for the sighting, after all in 1925 a giant squid washed up on the banks of the humber in Withernsea Beach. But, again I could find no species of squid either small or large that matched the description of the London Bridge creature. 


I did find one intriguing story however of a squid like creature in Bristol Harbour. The film footage of this creature shows it exhibiting a type of bioluminescence (a very squid like trait). The creature can be seen flashing several times and the outline of a large cephalopod is clearly perceptible. Although these sightings do not exactly match the London Bridge sighting, it is proof at least that similar ocean going creatures do occasionally frequent our rivers and inshore waters. Fake

So what was this extraordinary and unnervingly unique creature?  An Unknown Squid, a rare species of Giant Jellyfish? The Watcher in the Water? We may never know. To date I know of only this one sighting and could not find a single corroborative report anywhere online. That of course does not have any bearing on the validity of this sighting or affect the possibility of its being a living animal. A one off sighting viewed by multiple witnesses still carries a lot of weight and credibility.


So in future whether you are crossing London bridge on your way to work or searching for Saxon treasures in the mud (mudlarking!) keep your eyes on the water, for something weird and wonderful just might be waiting there, for you!





Written by Andrew McGrath

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