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URECAT - UFO Related Entities Catalog

URECAT is a formal catalog of UFO related entities sightings reports with the goal of providing quality information for accurate studies of the topic. Additional information, corrections and reviews are welcome at patrick.gross@inbox.com, please state if you wish to be credited for your contribution or not. The main page of the URECAT catalog is here.

1723, Faroe Islands, Denmark, men:

Brief summary of the event and follow-up:

Picked up in a chapter about merfolk of a Fortean book and called a close encounter of the third kind in two ufology catalogues, an episode by the Faroe Islands, Denmark, in 1723, had actually nothing to do with UFOs.

Members of a Royal Danish Commission investigating supposed sightings of merfolk creatures in the area watched a "merman" who approached their vessel. It sank into the waters, surfaced shortly afterwards, stared intently at them with his deep-set eyes. A few minutes of this scrutiny apparently frightened the people and the ship retreated while the merman puffed out his cheeks, emitted a deep roar and dove out of sight.

Basic information table:

Case number: URECAT-000448
Date of event: 1723
Earliest report of event: 1993?
Delay of report: Centuries?
Witness reported via: Not known.
First alleged record by: Royal Danish Commission investigating merfolk stories.
First certain record by: Fortean book.
First alleged record type: Royal Danish Commission investigating merfolk stories.
First certain record type: Fortean book.
This file created on: January 23, 2008
This file last updated on: January 23, 2008
Country of event: Denmark
State/Department: Faroe Islands
Type of location: In sea from ship.
Lighting conditions: Not reported.
UFO observed: No
UFO arrival observed: No
UFO departure observed: No
UFO/Entity Relation: None
Witnesses numbers: Not reported. 2 or more.
Witnesses ages: Not reported. Adults or aged.
Witnesses types: Not reported. Members of an investigation commission on mermaids.
Photograph(s): No.
Witnesses drawing: No.
Witnesses-approved drawing: No.
Number of entities: 1
Type of entities: Uncertain
Entities height: Not reported.
Entities outfit type: Not reported.
Entities outfit color: Not reported.
Entities skin color: Not reported.
Entities body: Not reported.
Entities head: Not reported.
Entities eyes: Yes, deep set.
Entities mouth: Not reported.
Entities nose: Not reported.
Entities feet: Not reported.
Entities arms: Not reported.
Entities fingers: Not reported.
Entities fingers number: Not reported.
Entities hair: Not reported.
Entities voice: Roars.
Entities actions: Is in the sea, dives, surfaces, looks, roars, dives.
Entities/witness interactions: Entity looks at witnesses.
Witness(es) reactions: Observed, fled.
Witness(es) feelings: Frightened.
Witness(es) interpretation: Merman.
Explanation category: Probable sea mammal. Not a CE3 case.
Explanation certainty: High.

Narratives:

[Ref. jc1:] JEROME CLARK:

Jerome Clark writes on the ancient controversy about the existence or inexistence of merfolk.

He recalls that in 1723, a Danish Royal Commission was set out to provide the answer.

If merfolk were found not to exist, those who should continue to propagate such stories would be in trouble with the Law.

Commission members themselves spotted a merman near the Faroe Islands. When their ship approached, the merman sank into the waters, but surfaced shortly afterwards and stared at them intently with its deep-set eyes. After a few minutes of staring, the people were so unsettled that the ship retreated.

As it was doing so, the merman puffed its cheeks, emitted a deep roar, and dove out of sight.

[Ref. ar1:] ALBERT ROSALES:

Albert Rosales indicates in his catalogue that in the Faroe Islands, Denmark, in 1723, at an unknown time, members of a Royal Danish Commission investigating supposed sightings of "mermaid" like creatures in the area watched such a figure approached their vessel. It sank into the waters but surfaced shortly afterwards to stare intently at them with its deep-set eyes. A few minutes of this scrutiny proved so unsettling that the ship affected a retreat. As it was doing so, the merman puffed out his cheeks and emitted a "deep roar" before diving out of sight.

Albert Rosales indicates that the source is Jerome Clark, Unexplained!

[Ref. wb1:] WILLIAM BOND:

William Bond indicates in his study of the evolution of the ideas about Mermaids, that in 1723, a Danish Royal commission was given the job of investigating a number of local sightings of mermaids. It was decided that if the commission found that mermaids did not exist, it would be against the law even to mention them, due to religious and moral issues related to the notion of women going naked.

The commission at first they decided that mermaids do not exist, then backtracked when they claimed to have seen a "merman". William Bond suggests that the hidden message here was that the commission thought mermen were acceptable because they were male but mermaids were not because they were female. The commission was probably sending the message that diving was shocking for women who were supposed to be physically weak, modest and submissive, and not naked, athletic and assertive women confidently diving for marine food.

William Bond indicates the signs that mermen and mermaids were a puritan metaphor for divers of the remote villages on the coast, sometimes living on the edge of starvation, who would attempt to live on important food resource like shellfish and edible seaweed; he notes however that at those times when diving suits were unknown, not many men could have endured the cold of the Baltic sea without damages affecting in particulars to their testicles or even penis.

[Ref. ud1:] "UFODNA" WEBSITE:

The web site indicates that in 1723 in the Faroe Islands, Denmark, Members of a Royal Danish Commission investigating supposed sightings of "mermaid"-like creatures in the area watched such a figure approached their vessel, sank into the waters, surface shortly afterwards to stare intently at them with its deep-set eyes. "A few minutes of this scrutiny proved so unsettling that the ship affected a retreat. As it was doing so, the merman puffed out his cheeks and emitted a 'deep roar' before diving out of sight."

The source indication is an hyperlink to a non-existing web page.

The website indicates that the Hynek rating for this is "CE3: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Entity reports)."

Points to consider:

Poor late J. Allen Hynek, astronomer and pioneer in ufology, might certainly have raised an eyebrow by learning that a "merfolk" story became a "close encounters of the third kind" according to his classification. He would probably never have thought so since he defined it as applying to sightings that remained without ordinary explanations in spite of serious examination on the one hand - there isn't any in this case - and applied to sightings entities when there is at least some bond with a UFO sighting, which is absolutely not the case here. Jerome Clark too probably never expected that his entry about "merfolk" could become a "CE3" case.

To the quite interesting explanations by William Bond on the socio-psychological context of the time as of the matter of sirens, mermen or mermaid, I want to add a possible explanation of what the Members of the Danish Royal Commission reported. I do think that sometimes, where there is smoke there might eventually be some fire.

It happens that the sparse description irresistibly makes think not of a "man of the sea", nor to some space creature or UFOnaut, but to some cetacean, which could be a Cuvier Porpoise or Beluga for example, or some phocae, the family of the seals. The fact that it "puffed out his cheeks" and emitted a "deep roar" strongly suggest that.

List of issues:

Id: Topic: Severity: Date noted: Raised by: Noted by: Description: Proposal: Status:
1 Data Severe January 23, 2008 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross No primary source available or referenced. Help needed. Opened.
2 Data Severe January 23, 2008 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Sighting conditions not reported. Day, night? Fog? Observation distance? Help needed. Opened.
3 Data Severe January 23, 2008 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Entity almost not described at all. Help needed. Opened.

Evaluation:

Probable sea mammal. Not a CE3 case.

Sources references:

* = Source I checked.
? = Source I am told about but could not check yet. Help appreciated.

Document history:

Authoring

Main Author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history

Version: Created/Changed By: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross January 23, 2008 Creation, [jc1], [ar1], [wb1], [ud1].
1.0 Patrick Gross January 23, 2008 First published.

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This page was last updated on January 23, 2008.