Monsters in Mamallapuram

What on earth is it???

A snake? Eel? Lamprey? Sea serpent?

Is it even from our world?


But be assured, I myself took all these photos on the beach in southeast India — on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal between Chennai and Mamallapuram (also known as Mahabilapuram).

Truthfully, the picture up top was taken a year ago – January 2023 – when were staying in the same general area. At that time, after finding the bizarre creature dead on the beach, I forwarded the picture to a local marine institute, hoping for an explanation. No reply.

Now a year later, on my very first lengthy beach walk from our new Airbnb rental in Mamallapuram, I came across two more of these frightening sea monsters!

Have you ever seen anything so unnerving? Wanna go for a swim? Yikes! Everybody out of the pool!

The local Indians who you can see in the photos below had no answers. They were as revolted as me at the sight of these leathery, purple, curly, eyeless, 6-foot-long, snake-like creatures with huge mouths and numerous needly teeth. I thought some of the children might start to cry — or me. These animals are a nightmare come to life!

Over the last few days, I’ve asked around. The fishermen who reside near us, and land their boats on our beach, were amused by my queries. Several said the “snakes” were creatures from the deep ocean – accidentally caught in fishing nets, then discarded (dead) near the shore.

One guy, in horrible English, said: “only small poison”. Then he seemed to say his brother had been bitten on the arm by one of the monsters – with no real ill effects. Great! I tried NOT to imagine the thing swimming up and biting my neck or buttocks! Uhhhgg!

Of course, we searched on the internet, too. Ironically, a new species of ‘snake eel’ has recently been classified. But the details for that creature say it is 15 to 18 inches long. Our monster is five to six feet! Different species.

So the mystery remains. And we remain hesitant to go for an ocean dip… lol. (We did swim last month further south at a nice ‘Blue Flag’ beach in Pondicherry.) And the last I saw of the hideous sea creatures – they were being eaten on the beach by crows!

What is going on?

Seriously — the crows? Is it like this elsewhere on earth?  (We’ve been in Asia most of five years.) There are hardly any birds except crows anymore. No seagulls. No pelicans. No pigeons. No songbirds. Hardly any birds at all – except big, nasty, noisy crows — scavengers!

I’ve noticed this all over India (where we have spent nearly 12 of the last 18 months) – but also in Eastern Europe and Türkiye, where we stayed last summer and fall. Crows are everywhere – other birds are almost hard to find anymore.

To be sure, some of the favorite moments of our ‘vagabond slow-travel’ lifestyle have involved nature and animals. We love strange beasts. Whale sharks in Baja Mexico, Komodo Dragons in Indonesia, and living with elephants in Thailand immediately come to mind.

But now, things just seem out of whack. No surprise really. We’re well aware of climate change and more severe weather events and melting glacial ice and habitat destruction. A sad and frightening future; an unwelcome reality.

Meanwhile, some political “leaders” (when not making war or societal chaos) say ‘drill more, burn more, use more, consume more’ — economic advancement (greed) is all that matters. FYI, new car dealerships are everywhere in India. Imagine 1.5 BILLION people with new automobiles. We’re doomed!

Thankfully, I’ll be dead and gone by the time future generations have to figure out how to survive in the wasteland we are currently creating. Good luck!

For now, I will continue to observe/enjoy what is left of nature’s original splendor. In India, that still means chickens and goats and monkeys and packs of street dogs and cows wandering around the cities. And yes, even the crows and hideous sea monsters.

Finally, my oft-repeated suggestion: if there’s anything you want to do/see/experience — do it soon! Things are NOT changing for the better. Sorry, but God help us all.

As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.

Life is NOW!

Thanks for reading, “Monsters in Mamallapuram.”

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