Kipsy, the Hudson River Monster
New York’s Hudson River, particularly the stretch that runs between Poughkeepsie and Manhattan, seems the most unlikely of places to have a cryptid dwelling in its waters. However, the exact opposite is true—there is a long history of a mysterious creature being spotted in and around the river. Nicknamed Kipsy, presumably after the city of Poughkeepsie, the monster has left its mark on the local folklore.
The Hudson River, named after the famed explorer Henry Hudson, starts in New York’s Adirondack Mountains and flows south for 315 miles, ultimately dumping into the Atlantic Ocean. The lower portion of the Hudson River is a tidal estuary—a transitional area serving as a buffer between the oceanic environment and the river environment. Estuaries are characterized by their brackish waters.
A History of Sightings
It is a safe bet that since the Hudson has open access to the Atlantic Ocean, cryptids that are spotted in the river most likely enter from the sea and swim upstream. This opens a world of possibilities.
Sightings of a ‘sea serpents’ in the Hudson River are not of recent origin; they date back hundreds of years. Documented reports exist in which sailors aboard several notable vessels claim to have seen something in the Hudson. A creature was spotted from the vessel, The Clermont, which belonged to the prominent New York family, the Livingstons. Sightings have even occurred from the Hudson River sloop, the Clearwater.
Reports of a sea serpent are also attributed to Henry Hudson’s ship, The Half Moon. It is unclear if Henry Hudson or his crewmembers saw anything resembling a sea serpent in or around the Hudson River. However, further south, in present-day New Jersey, an interesting encounter occurred when sailors aboard a long boat saw something strange while exploring Barnegat Bay. The incident, which occurred in September of 1609, is recorded in the log of The Half Moon. According to the sailors, they saw a creature which had “three humps and a snake’s head.” As is common with modern-day sightings, the animal moved swiftly in the water. The witnesses claimed that the serpentine beast moved with the speed of a small boat.
This was not the only time that Henry Hudson’s crew saw something bizarre—something extraordinary. During Hudson’s second attempt at finding a northeastern passage, two members of his crew reported seeing a mermaid. Thomas Hilles and Robert Raynar saw the creature off the coast of Novaya Zemlya, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, bordered to the west by the Barents Sea and to the east by the Kara Sea. The two sailors described the mermaid as having long black hair and white skin. The creature was human-sized, with the back and breasts of a woman. When the mermaid dove into the water, the pair observed that it had a tail much like that of a porpoise.
Getting back to Kipsy, the monster of the Hudson River, a ‘blurb’ in a newspaper spoke matter-of-factly about the creature in its January 4, 1887, issue. A Crawfordsville, Indiana newspaper, The Daily Argus News, said this in their “The News in Brief” section:
“The first man this year to discover a sea serpent in the Hudson River is “Mr. Brown, who lives out back of Saugerties.””
A newspaper article in 1906 equated a large eel caught in the Hudson River with a sea serpent. The New York Sun published an article on May 31, 1906, titled “Caught Baby Sea Serpent?” The article states that an eel that was caught was so large, that if it would have been permitted to attain its full size, it could obtain the stature of a sea serpent. The following is an excerpt:
“Inwood, not being a seaside resort, there was naturally some skepticism expressed when the rumor spread along the Hudson last night that a sea serpent had been caught in the neighborhood. John McDonald, watchman at the mantle works of Rufus Darrow & Co., at the foot of Dyckman Street, who captured the creature, said it was not a sea serpent, but might have been if it had been allowed at large a little longer and permitted to attain its full growth.”
Manatees in the Hudson!
Perhaps it fully explains the sea serpent phenomenon in the Hudson River or maybe it doesn’t, but a fascinating anomaly has been documented in recent years—manatees have made an unlikely journey into the waters of New York. Although manatees typically do not travel so far north, they have been spotted as far as Rhode Island and Cape Cod. Though unusual, manatees have also been reported off the coast of Long Island. It is really odd, however, for a manatee to swim up the Hudson—so far inland in New York.
In August of 2006, a manatee alert was issued by the publisher of the magazine, Boating on the Hudson, John H. Vargo. Vargo claimed that many boaters laughed at the alert thinking that it could not possibly be true. A manatee was seen, however, at various locations and by several people. Randy Shull, a boater from Ossining, spotted the manatee. Shull described the animal as gigantic and said, “When we saw it surface, its back was just mammoth.”
A recent, documented, and highly publicized account of a manatee visiting the Hudson River certainly lends support to the theory of Kipsy’s identity being that of a wayward manatee. Manatees can have a ‘multi-humped’ appearance at times as they swim and dive in the water. Moreover, their size, often exceeding 1,000 pounds, gives them a monster-like status.
Something in the river as out of place as a manatee could probably be mistaken for many things, including a sea serpent. It is a reasonable assumption to believe that if a manatee was spotted in 2006, this probably wasn’t the first time that a manatee has made an unlikely and lengthy journey to the Hudson River. It is a strong possibility that the sightings hundreds of years old were of wayward manatees as well. Perhaps.
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