The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Mysterious Aquatic Creature Lurking in Wells Harbor?

Posted by | April 1, 2015 | Filed under: News

Jeremy Miller, research associate at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm, is no stranger to Wells Harbor. But lately in Wells Harbor, things have been getting stranger.

For the past ten years, Miller has been coordinating the Wells Reserve's System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP), which, as part of a network of 28 water quality data collection sites across the nation, remotely samples coastal waters every 15 minutes, 365 days a year. Jeremy Miller works on equipment at Wells Harbor, unaware of the mysterious creature that would soon swim under the dock where he stands. Is that Webby?Gigabytes of data are annually collected by the SWMP program and scientists are increasingly using it to spot long-term changes in the Gulf of Maine and other coastal areas.

But recently Miller, who is also the Maine state coordinator for the Marine Invasive Monitoring and Information Collaborative (MIMIC), saw something he'd never seen before.

Or at least, he thought he did.

A dark shape, "at least six feet long and very wide," swam under the dock while Miller was cleaning a datalogger (a costly piece of monitoring equipment deployed by the Wells Reserve).

"Honestly, I don't know what it was," said Miller. "Ghost shrimp, lionfish, black bass — they've all been coming into our waters recently. Other beasties will probably follow. All I know is, this thing was big."

Sharks and whales are often seen off the beaches of southern Maine, but never in Wells Harbor.

Local codger Mort Blather says he overhead Miller say "something about a swamp thing," and that "really turned my head. Maybe it was Webby."

Locals have long reported sightings of a mysterious man-fish they have nicknamed "Webby." Named for the Webhannet River that empties into Wells Harbor and its surrounding marshes, "Webby" is most often seen late at night near the exit of the bar at Billy's Harborside Restaurant, a popular eatery in the Harbor.

Whatever the underwater shadow was, the Reserve's Miller refuses to be cowed.

"The value of long-term data for science is priceless," he says. "We can't let the fear of something unknown keep us from maintaining this continuous record of this ever changing, beautiful coast."

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