Mystery on beach

Is it a bird? Is it a fish? Or is it even a walrus?

Or has a professional cameraman from Chorley chanced upon a whole new species on the Lancashire coast while walking his dog?

When Martin Boardman went for a coastal stroll with his wife Penny and pet trail hound Patch, he never expected it to turn into a nationwide mystery that has puzzled park rangers and zoologists alike.

Martin, from The Grove, chanced upon the rotting carcass in a secluded cove near Arnside and the photographs he took have since flummoxed marine and other wildlife experts.

The freelance cameraman, who is also a keen fisherman, said: "We were walking the dog when we happened upon this little cove and discovered this creature lying on the rocks.

"It was a bit of a mess and was badly decomposed. On first sight I thought it was a porpoise, but then I saw a long beak and was confused. But I think it's definitely a mammal."

Scott Davidson, displays manager at the Aquarium of the Lakes, Lakeside, The Lake District, disagreed.

He said he was pretty certain that Martin's mystery creature was in fact a 10-arm cephalopod mollusc.

The marine life expert said: "I reckon it's a squid and its tentacles have rotted away. But it's a pretty big example they only normally grow to around 1ft.

"Where you would presume the head is, you can see its beak and where it would pump out water. And if it was decomposing it would certainly have stunk they're notorious for that.

"What was seen as flippers could just be part of the decomposition. I'm 99% certain it is a squid."

Martin, 47, is now contemplating the possibility that if it is a new species it might even end up named after him.

But for now the Boardmanesis, Boardmanatee or perhaps even the Boardmanemo, is the subject of an investigation that has moved on to the Institute of Zoology, at Regent's Park, London.

Martin's mystery mammal was described as two and a half feet long, with what he said was a "body like a sealion but the bony head of a bird".

It also had what appeared to be two flippers. The bottom of the beak was thin and longer than the top and the creature was a dark tan colour on its back but lighter underneath.

Frank Holding, a park ranger at Yarrow Valley Country Park, Birkacre, Chorley, was puzzled when he was shown Martin's photos.

He said: "If an animal has been a long time in the water it may be unrecognisable from its original state.

"In my humble opinion I would have thought it was perhaps a walrus pup. Its tusks would not normally show at that age, but in this case the skin has decomposed."
Other suggestions included a penguin, seal, or even a platypus.

But Martin was unconvinced and called Blackpool's Sea Life Centre whose bosses passed on details of a marine rescue service.

Gail Platt, from Chorley, a marine mammal medic with British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said: "I couldn't make out what it was, but thought it was more dolphin-like than anything else."

Martin added: "Gail's boss passed on details to Paul Jepson, a zoologist based at London Zoo.

Based on the description he too is stumped, but he is now going to look at the photographs."

* Can you help the Evening Post identify the mysterious beast? Ring the newsdesk on 01772 838103 or e-mail: lep.newsdesk@lep.co.uk with your theories.

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