Seven Legendary Creatures You Can Only Find in Washington

Halloween is a time to suspend disbelief as the ghouls and zombies of your imagination roam the night. But here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re surrounded by otherworldly creatures every day. They lurk in the forests and the dark depths of the Puget Sound. Are they real, or the stuff of legend? Check out our list of creepy creatures of the PNW and decide for yourself.

 

1. Tacoma Narrows Bridge Octopus  

"Welcome to Tacoma" by Dakota Harr

The Giant Pacific octopus that creeps along the bottom of the Puget Sound is a living legend. Over the course of its three to four-year lifespan, the cephalopod can grow to weigh 100 pounds with tentacles stretching more than 20 feet. But local lore tells of an even larger creature: a 600-pound “King Octopus” that spooks divers in the murky waters beneath the Tacoma Narrows bridge. Some say the wreckage of the original bridge that collapsed during the November 1940 windstorm provides a perfect habitat for the giant, whose massive tentacles have been seen reaching up out of the water. The mythical King Octopus has become something of a Tacoma mascot, and Narrows Brewing Company has even created an IPA in the creature’s honor.

 

Image: "Welcome to Tacoma" by Dakota Harr

2. Sasquatch

Sasquatch/Bigfoot (public domain)

Sasquatch is the most well-known mythical creature of the Pacific Northwest. But could the hairy, ape-like creature be real? Grover Krantz, the late Washington State University professor of anthropology and pioneer of modern Sasquatchology, thought so. In his last book, Big Footprints: A Scientific Inquiry Into the Reality of Sasquatch, he executed a frame-by-frame analysis of the “Patterson film,” a blurry eight-millimeter home movie that shows something hairy running across a creek bank in northern California. Some say it moves silently, while others say it emits a high-pitched yell and foul odor. Want to find out for yourself? Many say the Silver Star Mountain trail in Southwest Washington is a hotbed for Sasquatch sightings.

3. Willatuk Sea Serpent

Willatuk Sea Serpent (public domain)

The only creature on this list with its own mode of transportation, the Willatuk is said to travel between Lake Washington and Puget Sound via a secret tunnel. It’s Washington’s own version of the Loch Ness Monster, and was dreamed up by Seattle filmmaker Oliver Tuthill Jr. Based on Native American sea serpent legends and his own fascination with the Loch Ness monster, Oliver created a backstory for the creature, and even made a film about it. Willatuk: The Legend of Seattle’s Sea Serpent won a STIFFY Award at the 2010 Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival.

4. Batsquatch 

"The Millennium Humanoid" by Traci Shepard/Compendium of Arcane Beasts and Critters

This fearsome half-ape, half-bat monster was first spotted after the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The sinister creature with an ape-like body, glowing eyes, and bat-like wings is said to cause feelings of dread in those who cross its path. There are many theories to explain the Batsquatch's existence, including the idea that the volcano’s violent eruption tore a hole in the fabric between two dimensions of space and the creature slipped into our world. Something to ponder.

 

Image: "The Millennium Humanoid" by Traci Shepard/Compendium of Arcane Beasts and Critters

5. Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, courtesy zapatopi.net

This elusive creature has been reportedly seen scrambling along mossy branches in the Olympic Peninsula’s rainforests. According to urban legend, the tree octopus spends its early life and mating season in an aquatic environment, but moves to the trees later in life where it hunts small vertebrates. Activists claim that the species is threatened by Sasquatch predation, and immediate action is needed to save it, including participation in “tree octopus awareness marches” and donations to the conservation organization “Greenpeas.”

 

Sadly, the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus is an internet hoax created by Lyle Zapato in 1998. His website touting the creature’s history and recent sightings is so well done, it’s been used in internet literacy tests to study how critical students are of information found online. Image: Courtesy of Lyle Zapato  

6. Agropelter

Agropelter (public domain)

Residing in hollow trees, the slender-bodied Agropelter has the face of an ape and muscular arms. Feared by lumberjacks, the creatures are said to be excellent marksmen and can throw dead branches with the brute force and lethal accuracy of a rifle. But don’t fret too much. The Agropelter feeds on owls and woodpeckers, food sources too scarce to allow for the creature’s population to multiply exponentially.

7. Caddy the Cadborosaurus

"Caddy" by Emily Wayland/The Singular Fortean Society

With hundreds of reported sightings in the last two centuries, Caddy is well-documented in the northern Puget Sound region and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Seen by experienced sailors and ordinary people alike, the sea serpent is most often described as having a head that resembles that of a horse or camel and a long snake-like body with short flippers. Some believe Caddy might be a type of living prehistoric whale known as a Basilosaurus, but most explanations classify sightings as oarfish or groups of sea lions. Despite this, Caddy sightings continue today with most reports originating from beaches around British Columbia.

 

Image: "Caddy" by Emily Wayland/The Singular Fortean Society

 

 

 

By Anneli Fogt
Photos and illustrations used with permission or in the public domain
Published Oct. 26, 2018