Thursday, May 14, 2009

Now we're seeing (Montauk) monsters in Southold

It's no secret that the Hampton set has "discovered" the North Fork.

But this month, the migration of the Hampton scene to our bucolic surroundings has perhaps gone a bit too far.

The Montauk Monster has arrived in Southold.

No kidding. A blogger who writes under the pseudonym Nicky Papers and publishes says he laid eyes on a bloated animal corpse on the beach at Founders Landing Park in Southold last week. It bore an eerie resemblance to the now-infamous "monster" of Hamptons fame, which washed ashore in Montauk last July.

Mr. Papers (yes, I can't help giggling at his chosen nom de plume) says he was contacted by a Southold couple who made the grisly discovery at Founders Landing Park while out for an evening stroll last Wednesday.

The couple, who, Mr. Papers said, want to remain anonymous, e-mailed him through his Web site at about 8 p.m. that evening. He beat feet to Southold and by 9:30 he was snapping pictures and recording a video of the latest "monster" to wash up on a Long Island area beach. (There was the one in Montauk, one on a New London, Conn., beach and one in Rocky Point. Mr. Papers said he believes the Rocky Point carcass was a "copycat scam.") One of his pictures is reprinted here.

Mr. Papers told me yesterday the Southold couple put the carcass in a plastic bag and took it home with them. He hasn't heard from them since.

What to make of all this?

We've had a bull running loose and even some mysterious "mountain lion" sightings around here, but a monster like this is definitely something new.

Mr. Papers is pretty convinced that these carcasses have something to do with Plum Island. There may be good security on the island, which is now managed by the Department of Homeland Security. "But everyone should keep in mind that security is never 100 percent foolproof," Mr. Papers said.

That's true enough, I'll admit. But what could the explanation be? Lab animals running amok, getting into the water and drowning? Animals lost in shipment? Stolen from the lab?

Homeland Security adamantly denied the Montauk Monster has anything to do with Plum Island.

There are all kinds of theories about the monster, ranging from the aforementioned Plum Island connection to a so-called viral marketing publicity stunt for a movie to an outright fraud. Both the New London and Montauk carcasses disappeared. Maybe the Southold beast will also never be seen again. Until it turns up on the cover of some supermarket tabloid.

Poking around on the Internet for "monsters" reveals some interesting stuff for sure. There are the famous ones, such as Sasquatch and Loch Ness. Then there are the lesser-known creatures, like the New Jersey Devil and, believe it or not, the Bayview Beast. That's the name given to the big cat some people reported seeing in the Bayview section of Southold last fall. Imagine my surprise when, scrolling through Nicky Papers' site, I came across my own name (in connection with my reporting on the big-cat sightings here last year). At first, I thought I was seeing things -- possibly a side effect of the anesthesia last week. But no, there I was.

People get pretty crazy about monsters and such. So I've got to give Mr. Papers credit for trying to debunk some of these tales.

The new monster sighting right in our own backyard will whip the crazies into a lather. The media will encourage the frenzy, of course. I predict we'll soon be seeing a caravan of satellite trucks on Main Road, heading to the beach at Founders Landing. Now we have to pretend to be in the Hamptons, and act like we don't notice or don't care.