One of the most celebrated finds in the annals of cryptozoology comes to us from the Japanese fishing vessel known as the Zuiyo-Maru which, in 1977, managed to capture the remains of a reptilian creature that almost all scientists believed to be long extinct.

On April 25, 1977, the Japanese fishing vessel Zuiyo-Maru, while trawling for mackerel at depth of approximately 1,000 feet, in waters about 30 miles east of Christchurch, New Zealand, caught in its nets the 4,000 pound carcass of an unknown animal.

Suddenly, the crew of the Zuiyo-Maru (and for a short time the executives of the Taiyo Fishery Company) found themselves the unwitting owners of the most astounding zoological find of the 20th century.

The massive creature was brought aboard ship and then hoisted above the deck. At first the badly decayed corpse was thought to be that of a whale or possibly a giant turtle who’s shell had been removed, but quickly talk on the Zuiyo-Maru soon began to turn back the oceanic clock toward the Cretaceous period, when those on deck began to talk in hushed, but excited voices about the carcass being that of the long presumed to be extinct aquatic predator known as the plesiosaur.

In spite of the obvious scientific significance of the find, the captain and crew unanimously agreed that the fetid corpse had to be thrown overboard in order to avoid spoiling the rest of the catch. Luck was on the side of science however, for as the oily, film-covered carcass was being hoisted up – in preparation for its disposal – the creature suddenly slipped through its bindings and fell onto the deck.

This fortunate turn of events gave 39 year-old Michihiko Yano – a graduate of the Yamaguchi Oenological high school – the opportunity to examine the creature even more closely. After a preliminary examination, Yano was still unable to identify the animal, but he believed that the corpse was unique enough to warrant a detailed description, and he also knew that he was the only man for the job.

At that point Yano – realizing that his time was short – began to take a painstaking series of measurements, concluding that the total length of the carcass came in at an impressive 33-feet. Yano then ingratiated himself into the hearts of fortean researchers worldwide when he borrowed a shipmate’s camera and snapped five of the most famous photographs in cryptozoological history.

As if to further prove that he could cut the muster as a scientist, Yano proceeded to remove 42 pieces of what he referred to as “horny fiber” from one of the anterior fins, in the hopes that these specimens would assist marine biologists in future identification efforts.

Although most scientists agree that the remains of this creature are likely to be those of a badly decomposing basking shark, there are holdouts who  insist that these are the remains of a genuine prehistoric SEA MONSTER.

Finally, after just an hour of intense study, the Zuiyo-Maru carcass was thrown over the bow. At which point the creature, and quite possibly the zoological find of the century, sank back down into its watery grave… This time for good.

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