The bizarre, unidentifiable remains of a mystery creature that resembles a dead hippo has been found washed up on a New Zealand beach by a British expat. Jon Diggle, 80, found the carcass on Westshore Beach, in Hawke’s Bay, while beachcombing for art supplies. Mr Diggle, who originally hailed from Rothbury in Northumberland, moved out to New Zealand in the 1960s.
Mr Diggle said: “I was beach ‘fossicking’ – collecting shells, stones, glass and pottery shards to make ‘beach art’ from what I find.
“I had my head down looking for anything of interest and almost walked into it. I got a hell of a shock!
“I have been beach walking for years and never seen anything of either its size or appearance. My first impression was that of a hippopotamus. It was the shape – hairless and very big.
“I was also aware that it could have been a very large wild boar or a bull, for instance, bloated with internal gases.”
The remains provide one with little in the way of distinguishing features – beyond four clear legs, a possible tail and, at the other end, what appears to be some kind of head.
Mr Diggle said: “No-one was willing to guess what the creature was. The local council called it a ‘head-scratcher’.”
The beachcomber – perhaps most wisely – decided not to touch the creature’s body.
He added: “While it didn’t smell, it was very menacing. I estimated the weight at about a tonne.”
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Mr Diggle continued: “The area had recently been hit with high seas and stormy weather.”
There was, he noted, “a massive amount of debris on the beach.”
The creature’s remains, he said, “could have come from the sea or have been washed down a local river and washed up on the beach.”
A spokesperson for the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council said that thousands of smaller creatures have been found washed up along the local coastline in recent days.
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The regional council told the local press: “There have been some interesting discoveries.”
However, the spokesperson conceded, none of the other finds had been quite as “huge” as the leviathan that Mr Diggle had come across.
The authorities have said that their best guess is that the hippo-like body is actually a cattle carcass.
The council will be arranging the removal of the carcass from Westshore Beach.