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Essex is full of weird and wonderful stories, but none more so than when a sea monster was spotted on the county’s coast during the 20th century.

On a cold November day in 1953, a horribly decomposed carcass washed up on the shore at Canvey Island, according to MyLondon,

In the same year as the Canvey Floods, residents didn’t know what to make of this strange marine creature.

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The monstrous amphibian was described as being more than two feet long, with “thick reddish-brown skin and bulging eyes, and gills.”

It also had a pulpy head and two leg-like fins.

A resident, Colin Day, remembered seeing the sea-monster as a child.

He said: “I was THERE. I was a young lad of nine at the time.

“I noticed a group of peers in a crowd on the beach.

“Kids were prodding it with their spades.

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“I actually touched it!

“I thought it was a person at first as I could only see part of it through the crowd.

“Its flesh was NOT fish-like scales.

“It was a pinkish colour and looked like wobbly human flesh with cellulite, a sort of orange peel texture.

“I remember shouting to the other kids “It’s a mermaid” over and over.

“I have to say that even at 66, my long-term memory is excellent, especially about the day I saw my first mermaid.”

The remains of the dead animal were cremated quickly, and the residents of Canvey Island continued on with their lives.

Until another sea monster appeared on the shoreline the following year.

Spotted by Reverend Joseph D. Overs in August 1954, he described the beast as being “over four feet long, with staring eyes and a large mouth” in a local newspaper report.

A photo of the Canvey Island sea monster seen in 1954, and reported in a local newspaper

Experts had no idea what these terrifying creatures were, although locals thought the sea monsters may be anglerfish, with their mouths packed full of razor-sharp teeth and bulging eyes.

Locals also insisted the fish had ‘humanoid’ features, leading to rumours of ‘sea-monster’ sightings.

Today, the most likely categorisation of the sea-monsters seen in the 1950s is a monkfish.

Comparing a photo of the fish to one taken of the sea monster, both have wide, gaping mouths, a similarly shaped flat, rounded body, two short fins at either side and a small tail.

No more ‘sea monsters’ were seen on Canvey Island after that second sighting, but other mysterious creatures were noticed in following years.

One islander said: “When I returned to Canvey and lived in Bardenville Road around 1962-3, we had some other rather unwelcome visitors.

“They were furry, anything up to 2 ft long, had a platypus like flat tail and the head of a rat.

“My sister noticed the first one, which must have come from the creek, in our back garden. She told mum about an oversized rat.

“Shortly afterwards, the Coypus were reported in the local press and Islanders warned to keep clear of them as they would attack.

“I’m surprised nobody else has mentioned them as it was quite scary at the time.”

And today, the area is home to many rare bird species, and promotes wildlife through a 256-hectare bird sanctuary set up by the RSPCA in 2010.

Around 1,300 species of birds now make their homes on Canvey Island.

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