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Vancouver's wildest urban legends: Sarah the Sea Hag

Cryptids, rumours, and unexplained phenomena abound.
The Naden Harbour "Cadborosaurus" carcass, 1937. Was "Sarah the Sea Hag" a Caddy, too?

The great thing about urban legends is that they don't have to be true, they just have to be repeated with authority as if they were true. The stories we tell our friends at the bar or in our living rooms—whispers, rumours, and photos that like look like they were taken on a potato—that's the stuff of urban legends.

Every friend group, every community, and every city has their own collection of stories that may or may not be true, but either way they're fun to tell. 

Sarah the Sea Hag

Any coastal city worth its salt has a sea monster story and Vancouver has several, including the tale of Sarah the Sea Hag.

In 1941 the carcass of an unidentified creature washed up on the shore of Kitsilano Beach. She was described as having "a large horse-like head with flaring nostrils and eye sockets; a tapering snake-like body 12 feet long; and traces of long coarse hair on the skin," and was given the name Sarah the Sea Hag by the press.

The discovery arrived on the heels of a craze that had been gaining momentum since the 1920s and 30s after the Loch Ness monster created a stir with cryptozoologists around the world. Increased sightings of sea serpents off the coast of British Columbia, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and California led to investigations conducted by both cryptozooligists and UBC marine biologists and oceanographers.

The reports gave the creatures different names but the ones seen in B.C.'s waters were officially designated Cadborosaurus, Caddy for short, after Cadboro Bay on Vancouver Island.

When Sarah the Sea Hag was found she was thought to be a Caddy but Dr. W.A. Clemons and Dr. Ian McTaggart-Cowan arrived on sight and declared her part of the shark family although they couldn't determine what kind.

Not everyone agreed with their conclusion however, Naden Harbour's first aid officer G.V. Boorman discovered a 3.2-metre specimen inside the stomach of a sperm whale in July of 1937 that he claimed was identical to Sarah, and was certainly not a shark.

Sadly, neither the remains of Sarah nor the Naden Harbour Caddy were preserved so we will never really know what they where which makes it the perfect storm for an urban legend.