Trunko is a sea monster that was reported in South Africa in 1924.
The descriptions of Trunko create a vivid image of an extraordinary creature. One witness, Hugh Ballance, said the creature looked like a giant polar bear.
Although Trunko appeared to be a sea creature, it allegedly had thick hair all over its body and possessed a long trunk.
These features were combined with a powerful, lobster-like tail. Weirdly, Trunko didn’t seem to have any sort of head or face, and its bone structure was unclear.
Trunko was named in jest by cryptozoologist Karl Shuker in his 1996 book The Unexplained, but the name stuck.
Trunko has been the subject of much debate over the last few years. Some people, such as Shuker, contend that Trunko was actually a rotting whale carcass, or globster.
In 1924, London’s Daily Mail newspaper carried a story called “Fish Like A Polar Bear”. The story concerned events that allegedly unfolded off the coast of Margate in South Africa.
Witnesses reported seeing a huge, white-furred creature with a long trunk thrashing about in the water. As they looked, they realized that the creature was embroiled in a vicious fight with two killer whales.
The fight raged on for approximately three hours, with the mystery creature attacking the whales with its formidable tail, even leaping out of the water at one point.
The battle eventually ended, the sea frothing red in the aftermath. Soon after, the creature reportedly washed up on the beach where it was found to be even odder than originally thought.
The witnesses say it was 47 feet long, 10 feet high and 5 feet wide, had no limbs, and was covered in thick fur around 8 inches long.
Bizarrely, although the creature didn’t seem to have a head, it did have a 5-foot-long elephantine trunk protruding from its torso. The end of the trunk was said to resemble a pig’s snout.
Subsequent reports mentioned the tail of the beast being like a lobster’s, but perhaps the strangest thing was that the creature didn’t seem to be bleeding.
No scientific examination of the body was ever undertaken, and the carcass was seemingly reclaimed by the sea some 10 days later.
Intriguingly, Pennsylvania’s Charleroi Mail published a rather different version of events. In their article they say the mysterious creature won the fight and came ashore, exhausted, in order to rest. It then crawled back into the sea 10 days later, having recovered from its exertions.
A Johannesburg photographer called A. C. Jones took photos of Trunko, some of which were published in the August 1925 issue of Wide World Magazine. Some 85 years later, these photos would inform the investigations of cryptozoologists. In 2011, another photo was discovered in the archives of Margate Museum by Bianca Baldi.
Because Trunko was not examined at the time by scientists we will never know what it was. Shuker and other cryptozoologists suggest Trunko was a globster – a huge sac of blubber that can be left behind when a whale dies and its skull and skeleton have separated from its skin.
These globsters can include exposed connected tissue fibres, which would help to explain the fur observed by the eyewitnesses.
Also, killer whales are known to play with these masses and toss them up into the air. This could explain why the witnesses at Margate thought they were seeing a fight between two whales and another animal.
If this was the case, it would also explain why Trunko appeared to have no blood when it washed up onshore.
The trunk is thought to be either a rib or sexual organ protruding from the mass, although this would be somewhat unusual for a globster.
Another theory is that Trunko was an undiscovered species of enormous whale, an unknown pinniped, or an unknown sirenian.
Where to find
mysteriousuniverse.org, “The Bizarre Tale of Trunko, the Weirdest Sea Monster”, accessed September 05 2017,
cryptomundo.com, “Trunko: Imagined, Imaged, and Investigated”, accessed September 05 2017,
ipfs.io, “Trunko”, accessed September 05 2017,
listverse.com, “Top 10 Fascinating Globsters and Sea Carcasses”, accessed September 05 2017,
crberryauthor.wordpress.com, “Half-fish, half-polar bear – the mysterious ‘Trunko’”, accessed September 05 2017.