Has the Montauk Monster Mystery Been Solved?
School's out, thunderstorms are rolling in, and flowers are in bloom. Montauk Monster season is upon us. And to ring it in, ASSME's Drew Grant claims to have finally solved the mystery that seized a nation last July.
It was a raccoon! Or so she says. We're not so sure. Grant didn't really do too much sleuthing to come up with her theory—the man who claims to be responsible for creating the monster literally fell into her lap:
It was with this kind of Scooby-gang luck that I happened to be sitting at a cafe yesterday, talking to an old friend who I hadn't seen in a year or two. After casually mentioning that I was in the business of media gossip, he off-handedly let this little bomb drop, "Oh yeah? I was one of those guys behind that Montauk monster thing last summer."
The friend, who remains unnamed, told Grant that in June of last year, on the weekend before July 4th, he and some friends on Shelter Island happened across a dead raccoon. These are very strange people we are talking about: They had just finished a "waterboarding endurance competition," which we can only assume had something to do with surfing and not Mancow Muller hijinks, and later entertained themselves with a "clothespins-on-your-genitals challenge." So it should come as no surprise that they proceeded to place the raccoon carcass on an inflatable duck along with a watermelon and some scraps of cloth, set the whole contraption aflame, and send it out to sea for a "proper viking burial."
It sounds fantastical, but the young man provided Grant with photos of his escapade. So what does this have to do with the Montauk Monster, you ask? Well, it came ashore 15 or so miles away at Montauk on July 12, two weeks later, according to Newsday. (Grant says the monster was discovered "three days" after her friend set the raccoon on fire; but the latest that could have happened on the weekend before July 4 last year was Sunday, June 29, which would mean the discovery took place 13 days later on July 12.) And various experts and non-experts have repeatedly speculated that the monster was a raccoon.
Moreover, the photographs provided by Grant's friend show a string wrapped around poor Ranger Rick that appears to be attached to his right wrist. And though the resolution is too low to be conclusive, it does look like there could be a band of some sort of cloth material wrapped around the same paw. Both of these would correspond to the cloth that seems to be wrapped around the monster's right paw.
And the crucible of a "viking funeral" would neatly explain the monster's puzzling hairlessness, as well as the apparent crispiness and discoloration of its skin, which to our eye suggests a roasting of some sort—though that could simply be a function of the creature having baked in the sun on the beach.
And detailed, specific knowledge of a deceased raccoon having been set afloat near the site of the monster's discovery and just days before the event certainly lends credence to the raccoon theory, which was promulgated by celebrity naturalist Jeff Corwin and science blogger Darren Naish.
But there's one reason why Grant's tale is all wet. Her friend says the raccoon was set afloat from Shelter Island. But the Montauk Monster was discovered on Ditch Plains Beach, which is on the ocean side of Montauk. If we assume the scenario most favorable to his version of events—that it was set afloat from the eastern side of the island—for the raccoon to have made it to Ditch Plains Beach it would have had to drift eastward somewhere in the neighborhood of six miles, then either north or south another six or so miles to avoid an island, then another 10 or 12 miles east to the tip of Montauk. Then it would have to hug the coast and whip around the tip of Montauk, doing a U-turn to the south, and then to the southwest for four miles before arriving at the beach. We're not certain of the prevailing currents in the area, so we won't say it's definitive. But it certainly seems like an unlikely journey.
So as far as we're concerned, the mystery remains unsolved. Nice try though!