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Whidbey Island
and The Legend of Deception Pass

Chapter Eighteen

The Pass had its Own 'Monster'

It was a Sunday afternoon in the 1950s when a telephone call came from a West Beach resident, who said a sea monster had been washed ashore near Deception Pass and would we like to get a story? We would!

Out at the entrance to Deception Pass from the west, we turned to walk down the beach and there, partly on the shore and partly in the water, was a huge creature some eight or nine feet through, a giant snake with a tuft of stiff black hairlike growing from the top of its head!

Associated Press ran the story, which attracted many interested visitors who also took the liberty of cutting away parts of the animal to take with them. A Science teacher in the Oak Harbor High School was said to have cut a section of the vertebrae and made an ashtray of it! All in all, the "Sea Monster of Deception Pass" caused no little excitement.

Close on the heels of the find on Deception's shore, fishermen of the Pass for many years came forth with supporting stories of seeing strange sea creatures in the roiling waters of the Pass, and in the deep waters of the outlying Islands to the San Juans! As far as we knew, there were no pictures then of the strange animal, as a photographer was unavailable.

Since that find, several mentions have been made of "monster" sightings, one as recent as 1997 by Coupeville residents who were on the Ebey's Prairie beach at the time. The "sea monster" they saw was alive, and in the water, fairly close to shore.

Fishing has always been lucrative at Deception Pass, and my father, Harry Burrier, and my husband, Mel Neil, inveterate fishermen, decided to take the "Battleship," a deep-sided rowboat type with a putt-putt engine in the middle, to the Pass. From Cornet Bay they started out just as the tide changed outward and all was smooth sailing until they hit the whirlpools of the Pass itself. Suddenly the Battleship, going full steam ahead, was caught by a giant whirlpool and all the two fishermen could do was get down in the bottom of the boat and pray!

The boat whirled faster and faster but was suddenly whirled right out of the whirlpool to calmer waters, although the Pass at that time was hardly calm. As soon as the two could get their equilibrium, they turned the Battleship around and headed back for Cornet Bay.

Deception Pass had won the day! Deception Pass has been the site of a number of accidental deaths, mostly boating accidents, when suddenly western winds whip up and a dinghy is unable to cope. Several deaths have been recorded when sightseers fell from rocky cliffs, and especially from the Fidalgo site of the Prison Camp of the early days.

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