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The Steller's Sea Ape is a marine cryptid described only from a single sighting by explorer George Wilhelm Steller, on August 10, 1741, in waters off the Shumagin Islands, Alaska.

Description

Steller described the animal as about 5 ft (~1.5 m) long, with a head similar to that of a dog. It had large eyes, pointed and erect ears, and long whiskers. Its tail resembled that of a shark, but it had no forefeet nor forefins. Its body was covered with thick grayish hair, but its abdomen was reddish-white. Steller recalled that it resembled an animal illustrated by Gesner which had been called Simia marina, Latin for "sea ape".

Steller's sea ape 2
Steller wrote that the animal rose its front end out of the water to observe the ship, and engaged in an amusing juggling behavior with a piece of seaweed. Steller attempted to shoot the animal with a gun but missed. The ship's log did not note the sea ape encounter, and Steller's 1742 governmental report made no mention of it, nor did he include a description of the creature in his De Bestiis Marinis (‘The Beasts of the Sea’). Sailor Miles Smeeton records an entry in his book, Misty Islands, of an encounter with an animal while sailing in the Aleutians Islands in 1969. His description is remarkably similar to Steller's. It was seen by himself, his daughter, and a friend. They had no idea what the animal was at the time but after reading the description by Steller some time later, they felt it closely matched their own observations.  
Cotw 90 steller s sea ape by trendorman-dag0rer

Sea ape by Diakujia


Explanation

North fur seal

A northern fur seal.

According to biographer Dean Littlepage, a young Northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus) appears to be the most likely explanation for the sighting. Their forelimbs are set far enough behind on their torso so that they could have been obscured below the waterline, and the "shark-like" tail of the creature may have been the animal's hind flippers. Steller had already been familiar with fur seals, but Littlepage suggests that the poor lighting conditions during the lengthiest encounter of a probable juvenile fur seal could account for the misidentification.

Another explanation that the sea ape might be a congenitally malformed fur seal.

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