‘Humped colour-changing Nessie could hold secret to world’s hidden beasts’

The Saltern Cove chameleon could explain how beasts from Nessie to Bigfoot stay hidden, a cryptid researcher says.

Witnesses claim to have seen a plesiosaur-like creature hunting a school of mackerel, just 30 yards offshore in Saltern Cove, Paignton, Devon on July 27 2010.

Their reports described the fish as being so alarmed by the predator, that they urgently swam into the shallows, intentionally beaching themselves to escape the sea lion-sized monster.

Gill Pearce, who photographed the creature, described it as being about three metres long with a rounded greenish-brown hump, large flippers and a small reptile-like head on a two-and-a-half foot long neck.

But it was the account given by fellow Eyewitness Graham Oxley, 63, from Paignton, that has excited Beasts of Britain author, Andrew McGrath the most.

Mr Oxley suggested he saw the animal change colour, which Andy believes could be a camouflage mechanism used by many other unknown creatures.

The dog walker said: "I went down to the beach with my dog and I saw what I thought was a turtle.

"I saw a black dome which was more rounded than a turtle's shell and its head kept popping out of the water every five minutes. It seemed to lurk over some weeds in about four foot of water for around half an hour.

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"That was when I realised it wasn't a turtle at all. What I thought was the shell was actually the creature's back and it seemed to change colour like a chameleon.

"When it was in the shade it was a black colour and then when it swam off it changed to a greenish-brown colour. It seemed to camouflage itself.

"That's probably why not many people have spotted them. It was standing, feeding on the weeds and had its back arched."

Having initially thought Mr Oxley was just tricked by a change of sunlight on the creature's back, Andy believes it is not too radical to accept it may have really changed colour.

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Andy said: "If this is a little hard to swallow, we must remember that it is well documented that some reptiles like, the Panther Chameleon, do have the ability to change colour to match their environment or mood.

"Furthermore, there are environmental pressures to consider, as can be seen in many other ocean species, such as the cuttlefish, flounder, squid and octopus, that change their colour for the purpose of hunting, mating or to hide from predators."

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Little wonder Andy says, that humans have been unable to catch anything like this particular beast or the Loch Ness Monster.

"If our mystery animal is a reptile and if it has the ability to camouflage, it truly would be an astonishing discovery.

"I wondered what the implications of this could be and if it could be proven, how would it change the way we present this species in our textbooks?

"As cryptozoologists, would it affect the way we search for these already, near-impossible to catch, beasts of the waters?"

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