"Crypto-what? Cryptozoology? What the Heck Is That?
Defined by Merriam-Webster.com:
cryp·to·zo·ol·o·gy: the study of and search for animals and especially legendary animals (as Sasquatch) usually in order to evaluate the possibility of their existence.
In other words, monster hunters! The most famous, Bigfoot and Nessie, don't often visit New England, but we do have Champ and the Dover Demon. Champ is Nessie's cousin on this side of the pond, and purportedly makes his/her (without the luxury of 'taking a peek', it's difficult to assign a gender to these things) home in Vermont's Lake Champlain, and is seen occasionally. The Dover Demon is obviously much more introverted, having only been seen in Dover, Massachusetts three times during a 25-hour period in April 1977. There are a few others that pop-up from time-to-time, never to be heard from again.
Without a doubt, most sightings can be chalked-up to being a hoax or case of mistaken identity. Does Champ really exist? Probably not, but the legend is great publicity for the region, fun to talk about and harmless. People probably do see things floating in the water when the light's not the best, and swear they've seen "her".
I find the Dover Demon case much more interesting from the perspective of cryptozoology. It's fairly well-documented, with every witness describing the same creature, albeit with minor differences. Was it an alien that missed it's UFO departure time? Was it a known animal suffering from disease or deformity? Or was it simply some teenagers out to create a story and have some fun? Whatever the origins, the fact that the story is still going strong nearly 35 years later is interesting in itself.
Every region of the country (and the world) have their resident monsters: Mothman (a personal favorite!) in West Virginia, werewolves in Wisconsin, skunk apes in Louisiana...the list is virtually endless. We have an area of New England known as the Bridgewater Triangle in Massachusetts where it's said cryptids tend to gather. I have a few personal theories on why that may be, but do a web search for "Pukwudgie" for some creepy entertainment on a dark and stormy night. Better yet, get your hands on a copy of the 1975 book, The Mothman Prophesies by John Keel, the definitive telling of what happened in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1966 and 1967. I don't know if it's still in print, but a trip to your local library will probably score you a copy, as it was an extremely popular read back in the day. Creepy is an understatement. Forget incessant hand washing; your new OCD symptom will be to repetitively check if the shades are down once the sun heads in that direction. You'll never again look out a window at night. Oh, and don't bother with the movie of the same name; it sucks.
Researchers and scientists are finding new species all the time. Species thought long-extinct sometimes surface as if to say, "Hey! We're still here!". With that in mind, cryptozoology may not be as bizarre as it would first appear. Will we find Bigfoot in Boston? Don't bet the rent money on that one, but there's still a whole world of strangeness out there.
Sometimes, without warning, we come face-to-face with the surreal in our comfortable little world of reality.
As a bona fide, honest-to-goodness, genuine, well-rounded and full service New England paranormal investigator, I occasionally lead cryptozoology excursions throughout the region. Overnight vigils are the best, as nothing (well, almost nothing) matches the fun and thrill of everyone chilling in their tents when suddenly, the remote sensors and cameras start going crazy...even if does just turn out to be a curious raccoon. Have we ever found monsters? Nope, but the mosquitoes were often scary enough!
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