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Cryptozoology

Aloha, Cryptozoology: Mythic and Mystery Beasts of Hawaii

by Karl P.N. Shuker

Whereas other states of the U.S.A. have attracted considerable cryptozoological attention over the years, it is a strange yet true fact that Hawaii’s mythic and mystery beasts have received far less notice. The present article reveals the hitherto little-realized variety of anomalous wildlife reported from the 50th state.

Mo’o—Giant Lizard Deities

One of the most prevalent yet mysterious creatures in traditional Hawaiian mythology is the mo’o or moho. According to legend, this ancient, monstrous animal, which is invariably associated with water, functions as a guardian spirit deity, variously protecting individuals, families, districts, and places (particularly fishponds), but it can be notoriously capricious. The mo’o resembles a huge, shinyblack dragonesque lizard measuring anything between 12 and 30 feet in its true form. It possesses the ability to shape-shift (sometimes appearing as a normal, tiny gecko, other times as a beautiful seductive woman), and communicates its wisdom to humans in dreams. It inhabits deep inland fishponds, where its presence can be confirmed if there is foam upon the water surface. Fish obtained from such a pond will taste bitter, further proof of the mo’o’s presence.

Wall Geckos

For the most part, mo’os remain hidden, spending their time ecstatically consuming the sacred but intoxicating awa root,which induces them to twist from side to side like a canoe’s keel when in water. They can be seen when the initial flames of a fire light the altars created for them near to their ponds.

The petrified head and tail of the mo’o guardian of Puna district on Hawaii are said to be visible at the bottom of two pools—one at Punalua, and the other at Kalapana, half a mile away. Moreover, a female mo’o called Mokuhinia has reputedly made a number of appearances on Maui— most notably in 1838, when she allegedly appeared to “hundreds of thousands” of people gathered at her pond. Three significant mo’os—respectively named Kilioe, Koe, and Milolii—inhabited precipices in the northern coastal region of Kauai. Another two lived in the Wailuku River close to Hilo on Hawaii, and would permit travelers to use them as footbridges to cross the river. Sometimes, however, they would tip their hapless human passengers into the river and drown them. Consequently, these treacherous monsters were eventually destroyed. According to traditional Hawaiian legend, the implacable enemy of unfriendly mo’os was Hiiaka, goddess of lightning, who slew many such monsters.

It is not clear where the Hawaiian belief in such creatures came from. There are no species of giant reptile native to these islands.

Interestingly, legends of giant lizard-like reptiles are common throughout Polynesia (especially Tahiti and New Zealand), so it is likely that the original Polynesian colonists of Hawaii brought their belief in giant reptiles with them, based perhaps upon ancestral memories of large monitor lizards or even crocodiles back in their original Indonesian homelands. According to some researchers, Tahitians definitely brought their worship of mo’o deities to Hawaii, as the royal Oropa’a family of Tahiti venerated them.

Much less probable is that Hawaii was home in distant ages past to a species of very large lizard now long extinct, whose fossil or subfossil remains have yet to be discovered.(Unless the preserved head and tail of the Puna mo’o comprise such evidence.) There are many Pacific and Indian Ocean islands that were home in the past to such creatures, and sometimes stranger ones, such as the now-demised horned turtle and land crocodile of New Caledonia. Hawaii itself was formerly populated by a diverse range of sizeable avifauna, including several species of large, flightless ducks and ibises, all now extinct, which such a reptile might have fed upon.

The Menehune

Hawaii’s most famous mythical beings are the menehune— benevolent, magical, diminutive humanoids traditionally looked upon in much the same way by Hawaiians as the fairy folk or Little People are by people in the Western world. The menehune are most commonly encountered on Kauai, but have also been reported from several other Hawaiian islands. The most detailed morphological description of them is contained within the standard work on these enigmatic entities— Katharine Luomala’s The Menehune of Polynesia and Other Mythical Little People of Oceania (1951).

In this book, the menehune are claimed to be two to three feet tall, stout and muscular with hairy, dark or dark-red skin, large eyes and long eyebrows, a protruding brow, very long hair on their heads, a short thick nose, sharp ears, a small mouth, broad shoulders, and a round stomach. Living in forest caves and emerging mainly at night, they speak via a series of deep growls or whispers but are allegedly able to communicate telepathically too, and are even believed capable of learning human languages. They feed upon fruit, vegetables, milk, and fish. Numerous ancient bridges, ponds, ditches, and other structures scattered over the Hawaiian islands are alleged to have been originally constructed by the menehune.

Hawaiian mythology alleges that modern-day Hawaiians are descended from the menehune. Renowned cryptozoological chronicler George M. Eberhart has speculated that perhaps belief in the menehune stems from some ancestral memory of the first wave of Polynesian colonists of Hawaii (A.D. 500–800) retained by the second wave of colonists (A.D. 1100–1300). Luomala, conversely, wondered whether they might be a genuine tribe of pygmies.

Nowadays, the menehune are widely treated as mythical. Yet as recently as the 1940s, over 40 schoolchildren and their schoolmaster, George London, supposedly encountered a group of these mysterious beings jumping up and down among some trees on the lawn of the

Waimea Parish property. Once they realized that they were being watched, the menehune swiftly disappeared beneath the church’s foundations. When this property was later examined, no sign of any caves or tunnels through which these mysterious mini-folk could have exited was found, thus substantiating their popular status as supernatural rather than merely elusive entities.

The menehune are not the only mysterious humanoids that have been reported from Hawaii. Larger and hairier than those were the nawao , described by Martha Beckwith in her still-classic work Hawaiian Mythology (1940) as being a race of wild people who fed upon bananas in the forest, and did not associate with modern humans. A hunting race, and formerly numerous, the nawao are believed by some to have colonized Hawaii before the menehune, but they are apparently now entirely gone. There are claims that it was the menehune who vanquished them.

Giant Octopus Ahoy!

The world’s largest recognized species of octopus is the so-called giant Pacific octopus Enteroctopus dofleini, which can weigh up to 100 pounds and exceed a radial spread (tentacle-to-tentacle) of 20 feet.

The largest recognized specimen of octopus on record belonged to a different species, Haliphron atlanticus, a badly-damaged, incomplete individual dredged up in March 2002 by a fishing trawler off New Zealand’s Chatham Islands. What made it surprising was not just its remarkable size—weighing an estimated 165 pounds when alive and with an estimated radial spread of up to 30 feet—but also its location Until then, this species had beenknown to exist in the Atlantic Ocean. This specimen indicated that there could be other, extra-large individuals of its species lurking unseen beneath the Pacific Ocean’s surface.

Indeed, even the Chatham Islands specimen was positively diminutive in comparison with various Pacific mega-octopuses that have been reported off Hawaii. In 1928, no less than six massive octopuses, each with an estimated radial spread close to 40 feet, were reputedly spied together off the coast of Oahu by Robert Todd Aiken, while stationed at Pearl Harbor with the U.S. Navy. Eight years later, he returned to the same spot with a film crew headed by director Robert Hale, and on the front page of the July 27, 1936, issue of the Honolulu Advertiser a photo appeared claiming to be of Aiken standing next to one of the six mega-octopuses, whose span was given in the photo’s caption as 40 feet. Nothing more has emerged concerning this incredible find, which seems odd, unless it was merely a fake specimen used as a demonstration of how big the real ones would look.

One of these giant beasts may have reappeared one Sunday morning in 1950 when diver Madison Rigdon observed a huge grayish-brown octopus “the size of a car” being attacked by several sharks about 200 yards off Oahu’s Lahilahi Peninsula, in an area of water roughly 30 feet deep. Rigdon estimated the length of the octopus’s tentacles at 30 feet, and claimed that each sucker was the size of a dinner plate. After warding off the sharks, the octopus abruptly released a vast quantity of black ink and sank out of harm’s way.

Even bigger was the monstrous octopus sighted that same year resting approximately 30 feet underwater upon a reef off Hawaii’s Kona Coast by fisherman Val Ako when he went diving for turtles. He claimed that its tentacles were 75 feet long, with suckers the size of car tires. After surfacing, Ako dived back down to the reef half an hour later, and the octopus was still there, watching him but not moving. He was later informed by an old family advisor that this enormous creature visited the reef for a month each year, accompanied by another octopus, and had been seen many times.

Interestingly, both of the 1950 sightings took place offshore from localities that have been used by sea turtles as nesting grounds. Perhaps these giant octopuses were lying in wait to catch newly-hatched turtles entering the water, or even hoping to snare one of the big adult turtles as they swam shoreward to lay their eggs.

Bishop’s o-o bird

Two Mystery Birds

The Hawaiian islands are home to a remarkable family of small, brightly-colored finch-like birds found nowhere else in the world. Known collectively as the drepanidids or Hawaiian honeycreepers, their 30-odd species sport such delightful native names as the iiwi, amakihi, anianiau, palila, ula-ai-hawane, and akiapolaau .Tragically many of these attractive little birds are now either extinct or gravely endangered due to a lethal combination of avian diseases brought to the islands by non-native birds, habitat destruction, predation by non-native creatures such as rats, and slaughter for their pretty feathers to be used in tribal decorations.

As a result, some honeycreepers are little-known, represented by only a few specimens and scant native information— but none more so than the Lanai hookbill. This enigmatic species is known from just a single specimen and a few sightings.

On February 22, 1913, ornithologist George C.Munro spied an unfamiliar honeycreeper in the Kaiholena Valley on Lanai. The trusting little bird, predominantly yellow in color but with black wings, legs, nape, and top of head, plus a notably hooked beak, chirped and flew to a spot near to him. As this was still a time when collecting specimens for museums and private collections interested scientists far more than conserving them alive in their natural habitat, Munro promptly shot it. After examining its corpse he realized that this bird did not correspond with any other honeycreeper species on record.

When formally described, it was indeed declared to represent a new species, which was duly named Dysmorodrepanis munroi after Munro, who later claimed to have had two further sightings of birds fitting his shot specimen’s description. However, no additional example has ever been obtained; nor have any other sightings been reported. For a long time the Lanai hookbill was dismissed as nothing more than a freak or a hybrid. In recent years, however, reassessments of its unique specimen (preserved at the Bernice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu) have suggested that it may well have been a valid species after all, as its beak and tongue in particular were very distinctive.

Larger than the honeycreepers but equally striking was another group of birds native exclusively to the Hawaiian islands. Belonging to the meliphagid or honeyeater family, these spectacular species were known collectively as o-os (named after their “o-o” cry), and were characterized by their silky black plumage highlighted with primrose-yellow epaulettes and flashes of white beneath their long slender tails. Except for Maui, each major island was once home to its own unique species of o-o, but just as with the honeycreepers, one by one the o-os became extinct, killed for their gorgeous plumes and persecuted by rats. By the 1960s, only a single species survived, the dwarf o-o or o-o-aa Moho braccatus of Kauai, and today this may have died out too, because there has been no confirmed sighting since the late 1980s.

In 1981 an o-o was clearly observed twice on the supposedly o-o-lacking island of Maui by an experienced American ornithologist. This highly unexpected specimen has been classed as a representative of Bishop’s o-o Moho bishopi, previously believed to be confined entirely to Molokai, where it has been deemed extinct since 1904.Whether Maui’s mystery o-o still exists, however, is another matter, as no post-1981 sighting of it has been recorded.

Unexpected Interlopers

In recent years, some unusual and definitely non-Hawaiian animals have been reported from the 50th state, but surely none more so than the following trio of decidedly unexpected, mystifying interlopers.

Unconfirmed sightings of a mystery big cat had been circulating on Maui since the late 1980s. Between December 2002 and June 14, 2003, no less than eight separate reports of a dark-brown, long-tailed, feline beast resembling a puma, weighing an estimated 100 pounds, and stalking the lower Olinda district of Maui,were filed by the island’s Invasive Species Committee. After a clump of fur matching the description was found at the scene of a June 9, 2003, sighting, two large, meat-baited box traps were set, but nothing was caught. However, a search of the area later found large claw-marks on trees as well as some chewed bird remains and four-inch paw-prints. More traps, this time baited with chicken, were set, and one was destroyed, but no cat was caught.

After a pet 30-pound fawn was found mauled to death in mid-July, big cat expert Bill Van Pelt was called in from Arizona’s Game and Fish Department, but despite employing recorded wild cat calls, infra-red cameras, and even simulated prey calls to lure the cat into view, it remained resolutely elusive. Yet again, hefty claw-marks were discovered on a tree, which convinced Van Pelt that a large cat was indeed in the area. And two more paw-prints were found following an alleged puma sighting on August 25. Five other sightings and the mauling of a pet dog in October led to the arrival on Maui of more big cat experts, who collected hair samples for DNA analyses, but these proved inconclusive.

The Maui mystery cat case remains unsolved. The most likely explanation is that a large cat was brought illegally into Hawaii and then escaped or was released and permitted to roam at will.

This explanation definitely answers the mystery of how a mature female South American piranha came to be caught on February 23, 1993, in Oahu’s Wahiawa Reservoir. Reports of such fishes had first been reported here at least eight months earlier, but remained unconfirmed until this specimen was finally procured.

As for the chupacabras: this bizarre mystery beast is traditionally associated with Hispanic localities, most notably Puerto Rico,Mexico, and South America. On February 16, 2007, a grotesque beast described as half-dog, half-human and likened in media reports to the fabled chupacabras was spied just outside the Kuia Leia airport on Maui. Several canine chupacabras specimens discovered in the mainland United States have proven to be dogs or coyotes with mange, but whether such an explanation could be satisfactorily applied to a creature said to be half-human is another matter.

As can be seen from the selection of examples documented here, Hawaii is greatly deserving of future attention from enterprising cryptozoological investigators keen to seek out some of our planet’s lesser-known cryptids, and also from zoomythologists interested in uncovering more concerning the 50th state’s fascinating legends and lore.

An internationally recognized expert in cryptozoology, Karl P. N. Shuker holds a Ph.D. in zoology and comparative physiology. He lives in England, where he is a freelance zoological consultant, lecturer, and writer.

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Cryptozoology

Bigfoots attacked tourists in the Ozark National Park, Arkansas

Fort Smith native Ellen (not her real name) tells us a thrilling and frightening encounter with Bigfoot in the Ozark National Park – outside Campbell Cemetery on Tuesday night. According to Ellen, she and her husband Robert decided to find a secluded place to live a couple of days far from civilization and even so that numerous tourists were many miles away.

Therefore, they chose the area of ​​the old abandoned Campbell cemetery, where no one had wandered in for about a hundred years. And now, according to Ellen, she and her husband heard something like an animal growl, permeating the air and coming from somewhere in the thicket. After a few minutes, the growl intensified and seemed to be closer.

“It sounded like some hefty creature had found its lunch,” says Ellen.

However, what slightly frightened Ellen was that their dogs, which always bark at the approach of predators, suddenly shrunk, huddled near the tent and began to whine. Then Ellen and Robert, in order to somehow cheer up the dogs, got out of the tent and also began to growl. But the joke failed.

In response to their voices, the growl from the thicket became really aggressive and began to spread around, from which Ellen and Robert realized that there were at least two creatures. Ellen did not even think about some “Bigfoot” and assumed either large wolves, or even bears, when suddenly hefty sticks and stones flew into the tent.

This infuriated Robert and assuming that some hooligans were hiding in the bushes, Robert gave the command to the dogs to teach the offenders a lesson.

“It was the biggest mistake of our life,” says Ellen and begins to cry.

According to her, when the dogs disappeared into the thickets from there, at first the sounds of a struggle were heard, then one of the dogs uttered such a monstrous cry that Ellen had never heard anything like it in her life. After that, everyone began to howl, whine and scream, and pieces of dogs flew towards the tent.

At first, Ellen and Robert thought that these were big stones again, but when they saw that a dog torn in half had been thrown at them, they came into indescribable horror and, leaving everything, rushed to run. Ellen and Robert went to the police first.

The police found a tent and equipment, but there were no pieces of dogs there, so the couple announced that they were crazy. However, friends told Ellen that something similar happened in the national park last month and we just reported about it.

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Cryptozoology

What aliens are doing at Loch Ness

What connects aliens to the Scottish lake monster? And why did many eyewitnesses say that a mysterious force prevented them from taking photos or videos of this monster? There are no answers to these questions yet.

Loch Ness, located in Scotland, is primarily famous for its mysterious monster, nicknamed Nessie, which according to various theories is either a huge eel, or a seal, or a prehistoric dinosaur. In turn, some associate the appearance of Nessie with the activities of aliens, and not from scratch.

It is true that strange lights or disc-shaped UFOs are regularly seen over Loch Ness, but there is also an eyewitness story about how aliens landed on the shore of the lake. This happened on August 14, 1971, when the eyewitness Jan Ove Sudberg (now deceased) was 23 years old. Early in the morning, between about 8:30 and 9:30 am, he was on the shores of Loch Ness in the Foyers Bay area.

Suddenly he stumbled upon something amazing and it was not a monster. Sudberg saw a clearing ahead, on which stood an unusual large object, shaped like a huge cigar. It was about 10 meters long, and at the top there was something like a cockpit. Near the object were “pilots” – humanoid creatures.

There were three of them and they were dressed in tight suits, similar to diving. When they entered the object and the object then rose high into the air, then Sudberg realized that he was observing aliens. As the ship gained altitude, it began to slowly fly over the hills towards the nearby Loch More Lake.

The story doesn’t end there. Sudberg was not a Scotsman, he came to Loch Ness as a tourist and flew back to his native Sweden shortly after seeing the aliens. And there a new stage in this strange story began. In Sudberg’s house, unusual phenomena began to occur, a poltergeist, he began to receive mysterious phone calls, and later even Men in Black came to him.

Soon Sudberg contacted the British researcher of anomalous phenomena, Ted Holiday, and told him his story. He also complained to him that he could not photograph UFOs and aliens in the photo, although he had a camera with him. He felt as if some force paralyzed his will and did not allow him to do it.

It is curious that Holiday later repeatedly encountered a similar phenomenon from Nessie’s eyewitnesses. All of them, when they saw the monster in the lake, for some unknown reason, either could not photograph it, or tried, but they did not succeed.

He also found out that much earlier eyewitnesses of Nessie faced this phenomenon. On November 12, 1933, eyewitness Hugh Gray captured a photograph of Nessie, which is considered the first 100% authentic photograph of the Loch Ness Monster.

Gray’s photo shows something serpentine floating in the water. However, few people know that when Gray saw this creature in the lake, he took as many as five pictures before it went under water.

However, only one out of five photographs showed the monster, the rest of the negatives for some reason turned out to be empty.

The conclusion seems to be obvious: the monster in Loch Ness is more than just a large eel, it has some powers to protect it, and in some way it is connected with UFOs and aliens.

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Cryptozoology

A Briton captured on camera a creature similar to the Loch Ness monster

A resident of British Southampton Steve Challis, during a vacation in Scotland last year, photographed a creature in a lake that looks similar to the famous Loch Ness monster, reports the Daily Record.

Photos were taken during a trip to an excursion to Arkart Castle on the shores of the famous lake. A man photographed the opposite shore when he noticed a ripple in the water. He took some pictures, and then the creature itself appeared out of the water for a moment. 

After that, it disappeared and did not appear again. As a result, the camera recorded the animal in only one frame, which Challis discovered a few months later, when he looked at the quarantine pictures taken during the trip because of the coronavirus.

After the Briton shared a strange picture on the Internet, users suggested that it was the famous Loch Ness monster. However, the photographer does not share this opinion. He does not believe in the monster and believes that the creature he shot was simply a big fish or seal.

Interest in the photograph was expressed by blogger and expert on Nessie Roland Watson, but he suggests that the picture taken by Challis was edited in Photoshop. Challis claims that the photograph is genuine. He drew attention to the fact that the shot he made was completely different from those snapshots of monsters that the network abounds in. At the same time, he is still convinced that he shot just a big fish.

The story of the Nessie creature from the Scottish Loch Ness attracts many tourists who want to see it with their own eyes. According to eyewitnesses, the mythical monster from the urban legend has a long neck and a huge torso. Nessie’s existence is not proven.

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