From time to time, my family brings up an odd story concerning our next-door neighbor. Yes, our neighbor is a human being, not some ghost or a freak of nature. I will still not name names so as not to inconvenience anyone, though those reading this might recognize him, as his story is well known in certain circles of the city under the mount Srđ (the city of Dubrovnik).
I thought this man was quite unique, but not odd or eccentric. He had spent his whole life at sea and, of course, knew it well. He especially enjoyed sport fishing, that is, underwater fishing. And, almost every week, he would gather his modest diving gear, throw it into his little boat, and head toward the southern shores of Croatia. He would usually take care to be back before nightfall.
That day he was diving in an area known as Druga Orsula, a popular diving area. Although well known, the area is not developed. There, in the pristine wilderness, are rocks that rise up well above sea level, then they fall back down sharply into the Adriatic, before disappearing into its depths. To come here and dive all alone, at dusk, is certainly no small feat. In fact, it is not an activity I would recommend to anyone.
Here are the story’s known facts:
The man returned from his boating/diving expedition in the evening. He was visibly in shock; his face was pale, a look of terror was in his eyes. That’s how the local fishermen who saw him described his appearance as he got out of his boat.
Now, we should certainly consider that this was quite some time ago - years and years have passed since - and the story has, no doubt, been embellished with the passage of time. However, I’m certain the essential details are correct. Namely, this story is known to the local fishermen, and also to my family, as they were neighbors of the terrified fisherman.
We learned what transpired:
While he was diving in those dark, deep waters, some mysterious, huge creature swam up near him, and, for a few moments, lingered right above him. It stretched for at least several meters. Now, this man was an experienced fisherman and a diver. He would certainly not have mistaken a creature of the known aquatic world, such as a whale or a dolphin for some unknown sea-creature.
His description, admittedly, was rather vague. But he insisted that the animal, or whatever it was, had huge eyes. He recalled that quite clearly. That creature which stood there and watched him had a pair of huge, terrifying eyes. Furthermore, although deeply shocked by being face-to-face with the unknown, he still noticed that the beast remained immobile. Wasting no time, he mustered the strength to swim toward the boat. He climbed in and sped away from the spot, as fast as his boat would go, back towards town.
Of course, once it got out, his story took on a life of its own. He was more traumatized by the ridicule of his so-called “friends” than he was by his encounter with the mysterious creature.
To begin with, he was thought of as different, a bit odd, even eccentric. The story of the mysterious beast gave even further ammunition to some small-minded souls who wanted to plant, sow and spread enmity toward the man they did not accept as one of their own.
Some thirty years went by, but a noteworthy fact remains:
The man in question ¾ an experienced fisherman and diver and lover of the sea ¾ long after his terrifying experience did not again set foot in the Adriatic, even in the shallow waters near the beach. Since then, he may have come to terms with his fears, but he most certainly never went back to the Druga Orsula.
If you ask me - he saw something. I do not think it was a monster, nor was it a sea-dragon of some sort. Rather, I believe he saw a prehistoric animal that somehow evaded us all this time. The creature simply lost its way in the deep of the ocean and ended up in the depths of Druga Orsula on that ominous day thirty years ago. After all, such cases of ‘getting lost’ are known in lives of whales and other large, known animals. Why couldn’t that happen with an unknown animal?