The Soay Beast
On September 13th, 1959, Mr. Tex Geddes and Mr. James Gavin were fishing one mile from Soay (a small island off the south coast of Skye, Inner Hebrides, Scotland), when a strange marine creature appeared and passed fairly close to their boat. Although Dr. Maurice Burton received a report on the sighting from Mr. Geddes in September, 1959, and an account of it from Mr. Gavin in November, 1959, nothing seems to have been published about it at the time. The story was released when in 1960 the autobiography of Mr. Geddes (“Hebridean Sharker”) appeared. Then, the Soay Beast was dealt with by McKay in “The Press & Journal” (Aberdeen) of May 20th, 1960, and by Burton in “The Illustrated London News” of June 4th, 1960. Both McKay and Burton suggest that the Soay beast features in “Hebridean Sharker”; Burton (1961) and Heuvelmans (1965 : 257) also refer to this book. During a brief visit to the library of the British Museum I looked through the book, but I could not find any reference to the Soay Beast. That indeed it does not occur in it, was shown by Dr. H. W. Parker, who kindly read the book more thoroughly. However, the Soay Beast appears in another book, viz., in “Ring of Bright Water” by Gavin Maxwell, who (p. 64) based his remarks upon information sent to him by Mr. Geddes. “The Press & Journal” of May 21st, 1960, states that according to Dr. J. H. Fraser, of the Marine Laboratory, Torry, Aberdeen, the animal seen by Mr. Geddes must have been a Leathery Turtle, an opinion with which I fully concur, as will be shown below. Burton (1960 : 972) discusses the Soay Beast, and he arrives at the conclusion that it cannot have been a Leathery Turtle; in a later paper, Burton (1961 : 632) makes the suggestion that the Soay Beast may have been an Iguanid lizard.
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Brongersma, L.D. (1968). The Soay Beast. Beaufortia, 15(184), 33–46.