What do you call a 20 or 30 foot gray sea monster found in the White River? Whitey of course, or that is what the residents of Newport, Arkansas have names theirs.
Reports of Whitey began back in 1915.when farmers began filing reports of a large, unknown creature off the banks of the White River near Newport. In 1937, one witness account reported the creature as having gray skin and being as wide as a car and three cars long. A sheriffs deputy stated that it “ looked like a huge sturgeon or catfish”.
Reports dribbled off and became vague and sporadic until the summer of 1971. Another round of sightings came with one witness reporting that it was about 20 feet long with a horn sticking out of it’s head and looked like it’s skin was peeling all over. The witness also reported that it made a loud bellowing sound like a cross between a cow mooing and a horse neighing. Then two men reported finding three toed tracks , broken tree branches and crushed vegetation on Towhead Island.
Was there really a monster in the White River near Newport, Arkansas? Well, back in 1973 the State Legislator of Arkansas thought so. State Senator Robert Harvey introduced a bill which was signed into law creating the White River Monster Refuge. The area is located between the southern point on the river known as Old Grand Glaize and a northern point on the river known as “Rosie”. According to the law it is illegal to “molest, kill, trample or harm the White River Monster while he is in the retreat”.
According to scientists “Whitey” is clearly just a case of mistaken identity. Cryptozoologist and biologist Roy P Mackal believes that “Whitey” is actually a large male elephant seal that wandered up the Mississippi River into the White River. Male elephant seals average 5000 lbs and 14 feet long and share a lot of the same traits as Whitey, gray skin, summer molting, three toed tracks and farm animal calls. Even the bone on the creatures foerhead can be explained by the male elephant seal’s inflatable trunk according to Mackal.
There have been no sightings since the late 1970’s but to the residents of Newport “Whitey” is real and lives on.
White River Monster. (2012, August 13). Retrieved August 25, 2015, from http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/lost-tapes/creatures/white-river-monster/
White River Monster – Encyclopedia of Arkansas. (n.d.). Retrieved August 25, 2015, from http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=2790
Galiano, A. (n.d.). The Ghosts of Arkansas – The White River Monster. Retrieved August 25, 2015, from http://littlerock.about.com/cs/urbanlegends/a/aaghosts.htm