Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Letters from Kids

As we go on almost a week without a Jessie sighting (don't worry, that's normal this time of year!), here's a letter we received from Ellie Gonzales of Jamaica Plain:

Dear Pond Monster Watchers,

Does Jessie ever get sad or lonely?


Well, Ellie, that's a great question! I think everyone gets sad and lonely sometimes, but maybe Jessie is lonelier than most? I have to admit that the thought of Jessie, hunkering down somewhere on a cold rainy night, all alone, makes me pretty sad, too.

But I've got some probable good news. The first thing to remember is that Jessie is surrounded by people, all the time. He or she sees us walking around the pond or through the woods, sometimes looking for her. People leave Jessie treats, or just talk to the water and hope Jessie is listening.

The more exciting piece of info is that we actually believe that Jessie is not alone. The area is filled with kettle ponds, just like Jamaica Pond, and we've been reaching out to Societies in other towns, who have evidence of their own pond monsters. And we think that Jessie travels! (At least our Jessie Cams seem to indicate movement like that). So I think Jessie has friends of his own kind. Maybe even he belongs to  a family! It's even possible that there is more than one Jessie in our own Jamaica Pond! So Ellie, I think Jessie is not lonely. I hope that makes you feel better too!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Who or what is Jessie? Some hypotheses ...

Apologies to Jessie Watchers out there, it has been a crazy week! I wish this were our full time jobs, but unfortunately sometimes other things get in the way.

Today I want to introduce to you a few hypotheses about what Jessie could be. Notice I don't use the word "theory," which in the scientific world means that we would have a lot of solid evidence and, according to Karl Popper at least, could find ways to falsify it.  The Society does in fact have a theory, or at least a hypotheses with some strong evidence, but I want to throw out all the ideas before we give away what we think.

1. A giant turtle or tortoise 

This is not a bad hypothesis. There are known giant tortoises in the world (mostly in the South Pacific), and they can get pretty big (600 lbs, 4 feet long). They are non-agressive and somewhat reclusive, which would explain why no one has yet to find it in Jamaica Pond.  

On the other hand, no tortoises of similar size have been reported in North America. In addition, our average Jessie Estimated Length is 8 feet, almost double the size of the largest known tortoise, even in the fossil record. It's also unlikely they could survive the winter.

2. An alligator or some other lizard

Back in 2003 they found an alligator in Jamaica Pond. It was a young one, about 2 feet long, and they estimate it had been released by an owner who didn't want it anymore. Given that Jessie is primarily aquatic, if it were a non-tortoise reptile it would most likely be in the alligator or crocodile class.

However, the pattern of non-agression of Jessie, as well as the fact that winters once again would prove fatal, make the alligator theory fairly unlikely. 

3.  A Plesiosaur 

As exciting as it would be to have our very own Loch Ness Monster right here in JP, I think this one is particularly unlikely. The pond it just too small for a giant marine dinosaur. Not only would someone have seen it, they would have seen it at eye-level when looking out the window of the 10th floor of the Perkins Towers. 

4. A Manatee 

Definitely a possibility. They are the right size, live in fresh water, actually exist, are non-agressive herbivores, and it's possible somehow one got up here.  Howevever, many Jessie sightings or Jessie evidence occurs outside the water, in the woods -- places a manatee wouldn't go (as far as our current understanding goes). 

5. A Giant Beaver 

The giant beaver, Castoroides ohioensis, went extinct about 10,000 years ago, along with a host of other large mammals, left over from the last Ice Age. Or did it? These beavers (not closely related to modern beavers) grew to be over 8 feet long, were primarily herbivores, and certainly lived in the Boston area. They pop up in First Nations / American Indian legends in Central Massachusetts and Nova Scotia.  Not much is known about their lifestyle, though they are thought to not have been dam builders because the didn't have the proper teeth for that task. 

6. Unknown unknown

Let's face it, if we are honest with ourselves, we will have to admit that we have never exhausted all options. Jessie could be an alien, a creature unknown to the fossil record or science, an accumulation of the psychic energy of tens of thousands of Jamaica Pond visitors, who knows?  But I think these things are unlikely. True, I must allow the possibility, but since we are sitting on, I don't know, 160 years of evidence to the contrary, I would like to confine Jessie to the realm of what is most likely.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Away for the weekend

Hi Jessie Watchers! This weekend we're somewhere in the woods of Maine for a cryptozoology documentation workshop. We're freezing our tushies off, but hopefully learning (and teaching) a lot to bring back to the Pond!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sighting report

Early this morning I got an alert that one of our motion-activated cameras, Jessie Cam 4 had picked up something. This one is located in the woods between Francis Parkman Drive and Prince Street (between the Pond and Hellenic Hill). These go off relatively often and usually we don't pay very much attention. However, a few minutes later it went off again. I logged in to the camera to see what was going on. At the far edge of vision there was something moving! It was waddling along, but I wasn't able to tell how big it was.

Then, about five minutes later, Jessie Cam 7, which is actually on Hellenic Hill went off! (I should note at this point that Jessie, though the Pond Monster, does in fact get out of the pond quite often). I immediately switched over to it and saw whatever it was again, still waddling along! There's some underbrush so it wasn't that easy to see, but something was happening!

I got in my car and drove over towards Hellenic College, where it looked like whatever it was was heading! For about half an hour I crept quietly around in the woods, trying to see if I could see anything, to no avail. However, when I was returning to my car, I noticed that there were three very large trashcans that had been knocked over. No raccoon could do that! I looked through the garbage, and as it turned out one of them was paper recycling.  There were giant toothmarks in some cardboard and newspaper!

Conclusion: I don't know what it was on the cameras or upending the trashcan for certain. The odds are that it was Jessie, and that he has a taste for .... paper. Stay tuned

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What to do in case of a sighting or encounter

While we're fact-checking our article about hypotheses for what kind of creature Jessie could be, here's a quick guide for what to do in case you see the Jamaica Pond Monster.

If you are on land:
  1. Safety first - Jessie is definitely not agressive but if you have pets make sure you have control of your dogs and/or children. 
  2. Maintain a respectful watching distance - Jessie is a wild animal, and all wild animals need to be treated with respect and given enough room.
  3. If you have a camera or camera phone with you, snap some photos or take a video. You can zoom in, but make sure you somehow capture the size perspective. Try to hold the camera steady.
  4. If it's night time, don't use a flash. We don't want to give the creature a heart-attack (assuming Jessie has organs like ours), and I'm not sure red-eye removal software works on monsters anyway.
  5. Record the exact time, date, and location of the sighting (GPS coordinates would be great).
  6. Send an email with your sighting to jp_pondmonster at or tweet us at @JP_PondMonster with the hashtag #isawjessie
  7. We recommend against calling Boston Police, Brookline Police, or the State Troopers. Filed reports about Jessie are unlikely to go anywhere.
If you are on water:
  1. If you are out on the pond in a watercraft, make sure you are wearing a Coast Guard approved personal flotation device. ***(see below)
  2. Again, keep a respectful distance. Pretend Jessie falls under the auspices of the the Marine Mammal Protection Act
  3. Pull your paddles out of the water. We don't want Jessie to think you are trying to mate with it.
  4. If you have a camera handy, follow the guidelines above.
  5. Report the sighting as above!
*** Over the last few decades there have been a handful of reports of Jessie tipping boats over. However, these also happen to have occurred on some of the warmest days on record, and in some instances alcohol was involved.  Conclude what you will, but it's better to be safe than sorry, especially if you aren't a strong swimmer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sightings from the (pre-internet) archives

While we wait for the next live sighting (usually we get reports 2-3 times per week), I thought it would be fun to post a letter all the way back from 1987! This one came from Monica F. of Brookline, MA. Monica, if you're still in the Boston area, give us a shout out!

Dear Pond Monster Society,

I saw and heard something at the Pond the other night that I though you guys would be interested in hearing. This happened in the early morning of Nov 18. I had just gotten back from seeing Alice Cooper at the Garden and took my two labs for a walk around the pond (I only live a few blocks away, on one of the Sargents). I was down the by the water and all of a sudden my dogs got very still, then started growling quietly at the direction of the water. I was still a little baked right then, but I tried to see what they were growling it. It's not the safest place to be late at night, so I was getting ready to leave quickly when I saw something splashing getting in the water. I couldn't see very well but it looked big! 10 feet maybe! It quickly submerged and I guess dove under, because I couldn't see anything anymore. I was really freaked out so I headed back to the road. I stopped when I got to Perkins and looked back, but nothing. I swear I hear something thwacking though, like someone slapping the water with their hand. What do you think?

Monica F.
Brookline, Mass
21 Nov 1987

It's funny - a lot of our reports involve hearing a slapping on the water. A lot of them also involve being baked.  We'll get to the former in one of our next posts!
Follow us on Twitter at @JP_PondMonster !!!


Hi there! We're the Jamaica Pond Monster Observation society. We've been around since the 1850's, when the first reported sightings of Jessie occurred in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of West Roxbury (prior to its annexation to Boston in the 1870's). Up until now we've remained out of the public eye, but recent rumbling on Centre Street about sightings of Jessie has prompted us to go online.

We're naturalists, scientists, and above all quiet observers, but we want to spread the truth about Jessie. One of our members recently overheard some bugaboo-pushing moms at JP Licks talking about the danger Jessie might pose to their little snowflakes, and we want to say, first and foremost, Jessie is totally harmless! In over 160 years, there has never been a Jessie-induced injury, to pet, child, or adult. Jessie, whoever/whatever he or she is (we haven't been able to sex her/him yet) is a fascinating, totally benevolent creature.

Stay tuned as we keep you updated about Jessie sightings. We'll also provide some natural history for Jessie. Please feel free to share any sightings you may have, as well as any photos or video!!!