Strange Sea Tales

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Strange sea tales along the Southern California coast.  2000-Strange Sea Tales

Published 2000.  Art by Rick Ewing

ABOUT THE BOOK: True stories uncovered from local newspaper archives reveal a California that has remained buried for decades. Do sea monsters exist off the Southern California coast? From the early 1900’s through the 1950’s the author found references to something called “The Thing” spotted in the channel between Catalina and San Clemente Island. Also called “Clemente Clem,” the mysterious creature was said to have saucer shaped eyes big as dinner plates, and a columnar neck and head lifting ten feet out of the ocean. How could it be anything except a sea serpent?

Book signing – Historical Society of Long Beach, June 1, 2000

TREASURE – Find out about pirate treasure, undiscovered loot from a sunken gambling ship off Seal Beach, lost treasure from California missions and the Huntington Beach (Bolsa Chica) wetlands.

TERROR – Relive the horror of the great shark scare of 1959.

THE BIZARRE – Learn about the hunt for the Lizard People under Los Angeles City Hall, and Viking ships in the desert.

HISTORY – Discover the history of the fishing industry, otter hunting, and whaling in Southern California, early Southern California surfing and the battle between Los Angeles and Long Beach for control of San Pedro Bay.

DISCOVER IF – Sea monsters lurk in the depths of the ocean between Southern California and San Clemente Island. Sunken Japanese mini subs from World War II are lying at the bottom of San Pedro Bay.


     Sea Monsters
          Sea Serpents
          Fish Tales from Billy Graves
          Finger-loving Abalone
          Odd Marine Life
          Other Pacific Monsters
          El Nino
     Otter Hunting
         The Hunt
    Whale Tales
         “Minnie the Municipal Whale” or the Library?
          Captain Loop and “Sky Whaling”
          Whaling Today
     Seal Tales
          Lassoing Seals
          The Curse of Lake Elsinore
          Pet Seals
          Who Ate Whom?
          The Great Shark Scare of 1959
     Sea Adventures
          “She Adventures
     The Long Beach Earthquake and the Viking Ship
     Long Beach Man Builds His Own Noah’s Ark
     The Manila Galleons & Spanish Treasure
          Offshore Spanish Wrecks
          Oceanside Treasure
          Mission Treasures
     Pirates and Hidden Treasure
          Deadman’s Island
          Portuguese Bend
          Alamitos Bay Loot
          Catalina Island
     Treasure & Gambling Ships
          Gambling Ships
          Gangsters and Gun Battles
     The Cage Submarine
     Japanese Submarines
     Underwater Dump
     The Pike
     Around Alamitos Bay
          Belmont Shore
     Harbor Hijinks
          Schemes & Plots
          Secret Land Dealings
          Human Barricade
          First Large Tenant – Craig Shipbuilding
          Harbor Dedication
          Bridging the Harbor
          Panama Canal Opens
          Long Beach’s Sacred Waters
     Terminal Island and the Fish Trade
          Japanese-American Fishing Village
          Long Beach, the Waikiki of California
          Duke Kahanamoku
          National Surfing & Paddleboard Competition
          Beach Culture
Sea Monster

For years the legend of the San Clemente sea serpent grew. Many claimed to have seen the sea monster, always in the same area, and everyone agreed it had a neck like a column, big eyes like plates, and a mane like a bunch of seaweed

One observer wrote: “We were at San Clemente Island. It was a little past eight o’clock in the morning. The sky was overcast – gray – with fog. All of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something dark and big heave up from the ocean. Higher and higher it rose…a long neck and giant head, I guess that is what it was, lifting a good ten feet out of the water! It was wet and glistening. Something that appeared to be a kind of mane of coarse hair, almost like fine seaweed, hung from its neck! But the eyes – those were what held me! Huge, bulging, round – at least a foot in diameter – they looked at me and stared. Those terrible eyes fixed themselves upon me in an uncanny stare. I could feel the skin on my back begin to creep.  Then, as I watched, the “Thing” sank. There was no swirl, no splashing, it just disappeared.  Twice again on later fishing trips I saw the “Thing.” It heaved up out of the water, glistening like wet rubber. What the “Thing” was – or is – I have not the faintest idea – other than it was something unknown, unclassified  – and definitely strange!”

But Clemente Clem was no joke, especially to the people who saw him. Is he still out there? I don’t know. The last newspaper report I found on him was in 1953.  What was he? I’m not sure, but several possibilities are explored in the book.

This is one of my earliest works, you can order it at: