Unknown SIRENIAN or SEAL of the South Atlantic
Physical description: Length, 10 feet. Yellowish
color. Large, green eyes. Wide jaws with
large teeth. Bristly mustache.
Behavior: Rests or sleeps on rocks on the
Distribution: The island of St. Helena.
Significant sightings: In 1655, Cornish traveler
Peter Mundy found a dying, 10-foot animal that
he called a “sea lion” on the beach near Chappell
Valley. Other animals that were called “sea
cows” were occasionally found by residents of St.
Helena (and killed for oil) until 1810, when the
last one was shot at Stone Top Valley beach.
Present status: Not reported since 1810.
(1) An unknown species of manatee that,
unlike any known species, has the ability to
(2) The West African (Trichechus
senegalensis) and West Indian (T. manatus)
manatees are not likely to be carried so far
into the South Atlantic on a regular basis.
(3) The South African fur seal
(Arctocephalus pusillus), suggested by
Theodor Mortensen, though it is
nonmigratory and rarely strays far from the
coast of South Africa and Namibia.
(4) The Southern elephant seal (Mirounga
leonina), suggested by F. C. Fraser, is an
occasional visitor to St. Helena.