The Centre for Fortean Zoology was founded in the UK in 1992 - nearly 20 years ago. Over the past two decades it has expanded to become a truly global organisation. We opened our American office in 2001, or Australian office in 2009, and now - in our 19th year - we are proud to welcome CFZ New Zealand to the CFZ global family.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Possiblity of Mosasaurs breeding off the New Zealand Coast.



By Tony Lucas



There have been many encounters with unknown creatures off the coast of New Zealand, with the East coast being particularly favoured.

There is a very good reason for this, running parallel to New Zealand's coastline is the Hikurangi Trench. A deep gouge on the ocean floor, that descends in places to depths of 3,750 metres (12,300 ft).[ (Lewis, Collott, & Lallemand, 1998, pp. 441-468.)


New Zealands unique oceanography

These deep troughs bring a wealth of nutrient rich organisms to the surface allowing for a mass of biodiversity to flourish in the nutrient rich upper waters.

Krill are profuse here along with smaller fish species which create a nutrient rich environment for larger predatory animals such as Giant Squid, which in turn are preyed upon by Sperm Whales. So there is no deficit of vast food supplies for large predatory animals cruising the depths of New Zealand's coastline.

Where the Hikurangi Trench joins up with the Tonga Trench, the area is heavily spotted with areas of geothermal activity which provide warm waters as well as a warm current which flows from the equatorial region.


This area of the Tonga Trench has a rich diversity of marine life previously undiscovered until recent expeditions. This is a very harsh environment where reshaping of the seafloor is happening continually, to quote from the results of a joint project between the Universities of Durham and Oxford, and funded by the National Research Centre.

"Where the Pacific plate collides with the Indo-Australian plate, it is forced downwards into the trench, a subduction zone, and the volcanoes are carried with it.

The trench, reaching a depth of 10.9km, forms the second deepest stretch of seabed anywhere in the world - easily large enough to hold Mount Everest"


What would make this an ideal nursery and breeding place?


The abundant food supply, warm, water and lack of large predatory animals would make this an ideal breeding and nursery ground for Mosasaurs. Migrating whales along these routes would also provide a range of suitably sized animals for the young mosasaurs to feed on, and just returning from the feeding grounds would make these whales wholesome additions to their diet.


Personally, I think the primary reason that many of these creatures are avoiding detection is the fact that they have learned to avoid the sound of a ship's engine and stay well away from any encroaching vessel or main shipping lane.


These out of the way areas often lead to shallow bays which are warmed by the circum-tasmanian current which brings warm water to the Bay of Plenty, which coincidently boarders the Kermedec trench. Warm water, shallow bays and a deep nutrient rich feeding ground create ideal nutrient rich conditions. Likewise a high percentage of creature observations have been made in these very waters.


So what has been seen in these waters?


The earliest known reference to Mosasaur like creatures in New Zealand waters comes from a report dated August 1st 1899 from the Union Steam Ships Chief Officer of the Rotomahama, Lindsay Kerr.

He reported a huge Conger Eel, except it had two fins, one on each side of the body. This colossus Rose up to a high of 30 feet out of the water. This sighting occurred near the Portland Light situated between Gisborne and Napier.

Right in the area of suitable Mosasaur habitat coincidently.

When shown pictures of various types of Eels, Mr Kerr said it had a more crocodilian type head rather than anything he was shown.


In April 1971 the crew of the Kompira Maru saw a "Bug-Eyed Monster" which resembled a large crocodile, but had fins instead of Legs, which were clearly visible as it leaped and dived under the water.


1972 three women were whitebaiting at the mouth of the Orari River near Temuka watched a huge creature wallowing in the breakers about 30 m away from them.

They described a light grey lizard like beast that was around 15 m long, which at one point opened its mouth to reveal numerous small sharp teeth.

(SamYivano, 2007)


There is nothing to be said to make me think otherwise but personally, I do believe these creatures are out there as there have been too many sightings that are so closely reminiscent of mosasaurs as to be easily dismissed.

There have been 11 reported sightings of Mosasaur like animals reported in New Zealand waters, a higher number than anywhere else.

Are they a new species?


I would more like to think of a Coelacanth scenario, an ancient species that has adapted to survive into the modern age.

We are still but children taking our first unsteady paddling steps into a very wide and portentous ocean that holds many secrets and undisclosed treasures we thought once lost.




Lewis, K. B., Collott, J., & Lallemand, S. E. (1998). The dammed Hikurangi Trough: A channel-fed trench blocked by subducting seamounts and their wake avalanches (New Zealand-France GeodyNZ Project (pp. 441-468.).

SamYivano. (2007). Jaws. Retrieved from http://http//


Saturday, 18 August 2012

Now that winter is finally starting to release its icy grip, and blossoms are starting to show on many of the trees work can begin on the myriad of plans contrived and pondered while huddled around the warmth of a fire. One of the Plans that has been slowly chipped away at is the building of a butterfly house directly adjoining and incorporating the window of my study. How delightful it will be during the summer months to sit at my desk and watch the butterflies go about their business ready for release to increase the dwindling population that already exists in New Zealand. A project I am quite excited about. Work continues on the book I am working on and surprisingly I'm quite enjoying it so it doesn't seem like a task at all but an absolute pleasure to research and learn new things. I recently purchased a couple of very beautiful moths, papered so this is one project I'm quite nervous of as I had to go through the whole procedure and mount them, and believe me they are too beautiful to make a mess of. I can now understand Grahams dilemma of a few months ago. We have plans currently on the boil to build some bumblebee shelters this summer as these little creatures are becoming rarer sight every year. Another project is to build hedgehog wintering boxes in the hopes of improving their population as they too are also becoming rarer and rarer. Another project we have decided to undertake at the New Zealand CFZ is we have obtained a Formicaria in which we first intend to raise some of the more household garden variety of ants. Eventually, after ironing out the problems we would like to have a go at raising some of the New Zealand native species hopefully to rerelease back into areas of native bush. Hopefully these releases will help replenish New Zealand's dwindling ant population. It's amazing how the tend to concentrate on the larger creatures, and how endangered, unusual or just plain enigmatic they actually are and yet, there are just as many fascinating creatures at our feet and totally overlooked. Excitingly, it is also that time of year again that whitebait make their way up river and very soon the banks will be lined with many fishermen dreaming of whitebait fritters. Once again through a kind benefactor there will be some that will not reach the frying pan and allow me to continue my research into these fascinating fish. Regrettably I was only able to get one to survive from last year's lot. As they are, from what I hear, extremely hard to rear I find that achievement in itself. When Sally, as we have called her putting young whitebait in with her would be a big mistake, so I shall raise them in a separate tank until they are big enough to stand up for themselves. Lots of projects, lots of enthusiasm, and I must state all round so it looks like things may get a little exciting for awhile.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

OOPA: Moose photos from Canada, not NZ

Four photographs of three moose that a Northland man claimed last year were taken in Fiordland in 1953 were actually taken in Canada.

In June last year, the late Fred Stewardson, of Hikurangi, recounted to the Otago Daily Times and other media how he and a companion came across the animals on a hunting trip to Wet Jacket Arm.

However, Fiordland moose researcher Ken Tustin, of Bull Creek near Milton, said yesterday after two years of work he had established the photographs were taken near Banff in 1958.

Mr Tustin was uncertain of Mr Stewardson's motives but had found Mr Stewardson's life was "full of exaggerations".

"The old fellow was absolutely entranced by the moose story, knew or found out, through me, a bit about it, and then wrote himself into it."

Mr Tustin received final confirmation Mr Stewardson's story was false by speaking to his ex- wife in Australia, who clearly recalled where the moose photographs were taken.

Mr Tustin said he had spent hours speaking to Mr Stewardson by phone and had received letters from him supporting his story.

He now believes Mr Stewardson, who died nine months ago, never visited Wet Jacket Arm but was quite likely in Fiordland in 1952 when the head of a bull moose was brought out of the bush.

North American moose were released in Fiordland in 1910 and Mr Tustin has spent many years trying to establish that their descendants remain there.

Mr Stewardson claimed he kept the photographs a secret for 60 years to keep the Fiordland moose safe from other hunters.

"Fiordland will have loads of trigger-happy clowns there for slaughter.

Many won't give a damn if moose survive or not," he wrote to Mr Tustin last year.

Mr Tustin said he had early reservations about the photographs because of the shape of vegetation, but believed it did resemble vegetation he had seen in different parts of Fiordland.

After the photographs were published in the ODT he received an anonymous call warning him not to believe Mr Stewardson.

But despite offering Mr Stewardson the opportunity to retract his story, he never did.

"I'm disappointed he carried his story - knowing it was not true - to such great lengths ... knowing how important the accuracy of my [moose] history was to me."

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


After some time, on both the powers that be and my part due to a Mother very ill with Lung Cancer, I have finally received results regarding these flies.No they are not a new species and yes it is a fungal infection, But there was a new type of fungi as well which is interesting.The first type which i mentioned previously is a sort of Zombie Fungi as it invades the host including the brain and feeds from the inside out. In the process it takes over the brain and when ready to spawn encourages the fly to fin a high point suitable for distribution.Once this is done the fly literally stops in its tracks dead, and the fungi disperse infecting the next host.