In 1971, an unusual creature was spotted in a lagoon outside of Havana, Cuba. The lagoon, a flooded quarry, is located in San Miguel del Padrón, a suburb of Havana. Rumors of a frightening creature quickly spread throughout Havana; crowds of curious onlookers flocked to the lagoon. As news of the monster spread, the masses grew—crowds that once were in the hundreds quickly escalated to thousands in number. The creature created such a buzz within the community, that the government-ran radio station, Radio Progresso, took an interest and sent reporters to investigate. The correspondents descended upon the scene; they examined eyewitness reports and interviewed witnesses.
Descriptions of the creature vary; some described it as spindle-shaped, with large and threatening yellow eyes; others claimed to see a horned, hippopotamus-like animal with a featureless face. According to one witness who claimed to have seen the animal on multiple occasions: “It doesn’t look like anything but a black ball that, maybe, resembles a hippopotamus with horns, but it doesn’t really resemble any animal…and it’s got no eyes on it at all.”1
One of the reporters sent to investigate the phenomenon saw the creature for himself. He claimed to see something rise from the water amid “intense bubbling.” Whatever this animal was, it had a rough texture and a rounded shape. After it surfaced, it floated for a few seconds and then sank back into the water.2
If some of the stories about the monster are true, then we have a very strange creature—one that may have psychic abilities. Rumors tell of an elderly man who lived in a ramshackle home by the lagoon that was driven crazy by the monster. According to the story, after the man encountered the creature, he fled in terror. The poor man had gone mad instantaneously and later hanged himself from a tree.3
Word spread of the monster’s mind-bending abilities. Many of the folks who ventured to the lagoon shielded their eyes, careful not to make eye contact with the creature—fearful of its dreaded gaze.
What are we to make of the creature from San Miguel Lagoon? The tales are fantastic; surely something could have been in the lagoon, but did that something have psychic abilities? Probably not. This aspect of the tale is probably nothing more than an embellishment—much like a fish story. What probably started out as someone seeing something that they couldn’t explain, quickly morphed into a larger-than-life tale.
An explanation for the identity of the creature has been offered—an explanation that is all too common—misidentification. In this case, the misidentification of inanimate objects is blamed. The objects: tree trunks.
A man who worked at the lagoon making charcoal was very skeptical of the stories. He said, “I’ve never seen anything in the 10 or 11 years I’ve been here.” The collier offered an explanation for hysteria: people were seeing palm trunks. He said, “Three or four months ago, some trucks, a fleet of trucks came here and dumped palm trunks in the water.”4
The question becomes, is the collier’s story a reasonable explanation for the phenomenon? Maybe. But it is tough for me to believe that hundreds, even thousands of people were mistaking tree trunks for an animal. But, I suppose it is possible; stranger things have happened…
- “Mystery Monster.” The Dispatch (Lexington), August 23, 1971.
- “Mystery Monster.” The Dispatch.
- Mario Masvidal Saavedra. “The Creature from the San Miguel Lagoon.” OnCuba. May 24, 2012. Accessed February 15, 2016. http://oncubamagazine.com/magazine-articles/creature-san-miguel-lagoon/.
- “Mystery Monster.” The Dispatch.