In 1962, the world was stunned when it was announced that a ‘monster’ had been found on a remote west coast Tasmanian beach. It was estimated to weigh at least nine tonnes was six meters long and five and a half meters wide, had a very strong smell and appeared to be covered in a fine, wool-like coating.
The discovery was not investigated until the international media created a frenzy of interest, and a scientific party from CSIRO (along with the Director of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and University of Tasmania zoologists) was sent to the remote site.in March, 1962. The Tasmanian Government was embarrassed by the press hysteria, and it was decided that all future ‘monsters’ would be investigated by the Tasmanian Fauna Board.
Dr Eric Guiler – then lecturer in zoology at the University of Tasmania said: “None of us wanted to go because such things as monsters don’t exist. We identified it as old whale blubber that had fallen off a whaling ship.”
Although identified as blubber, it continued to be known as the ‘West Coast sea monster’ and, two years later, another ‘monster’ stranded. This time, the Fauna Board investigated and found the remainder of the animal, complete with a harpoon embedded in the flesh.
In 1989, the Nomenclature Board officially named a nearby creek, Monster Creek. And, in 2004, a piece of the ‘monster’ was sent to an American university where it was analysed, in addition to other ‘blobs’. All were whale blubber. Similar large lumps of whale blubber occasionally wash up on Tasmania’s beaches – most recently in 2012.