The Ouija Broads Guide to Northwestern Cryptids and Critters

The cryptid scene in the Northwest is the gold standard, just admit it. And yeah, we got some Bigfoot stuff in here. But believe us, there’s a lot more to discover behind the trees… and some of it is more than myth.

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Caddy, the Cadborosaurus

She’s beauty and she’s grace. This snaky sea monster (which may be singular, but seems to move in a family group according to some stories) is best known for sightings in Cadboro Bay, British Columbia. Despite being largely serpentine, Caddy is said to have a horselike head with a waving mane of hair (or decomposing whale baleen, depending on how you see the world). (Episode 13, Our Friend the Cadborosaurus.)

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The Pacific Tree Octopus

Legend? Lost species? No, this one’s just a flat-out hoax. But it’s a hoax that was developed to help teach children how to think critically about the information they find on the internet. A worthy quest, an entertaining story, and a beloved (if fictional) critter in our menagerie. (Episode 12, The Skydiving Beaver and the Arboreal Octopus.)

The Giant Palouse Earthworm

The Giant Palouse Earthworm has been all over the place, from a myth to a cryptid to an endangered species. It’s outlandishly large, freakishly pale, and a very special part of the Palouse micro-eco-system that unfortunately mostly gets studied when it gets run over with tractors. (Episode 10, The Giant Palouse Earthworm.)

The Coastal Wolves of British Columbia

This one sounds fake but is actually legit. They’re wolves, but their hunting ground is the sea - they can swim for miles and 90% or more of their diet is seafood. (We imagine they are very glossy, and probably smell sort of fishy.) While they’re still real wolves, they are smaller than their inland cousins and are a genetically distinct population. (Episode 23, Yappy Howlidays - Christmas in July.)

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The Shunka Warakin

Oh, bless. Just look at that goofy thing. Is it a prehistoric direwolf? A legendary predator whose name means “carries off dogs”? Or just bad taxidermy? Some say that Ringdocus, a.k.a. the Sherwood Beast or the Madison Monster, is the legendary shunka warakin, known in Montana folklore as a creature with aspects of both hyena and wolf. (Episode 23, Yappy Howlidays - Christmas in July.)

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Big Birds

Some say that they’re the legendary Thunderbirds of Native legend, while other say they’re anachronistic pterodactyls. Either way, we sure seem to have some unusually hefty sky chickens around these parts. In this episode, Devon talks about the legends as well as some potential sources of inspiration, such as the California Condor (which legit can have a 10 ft wingspan) and the Washington’s Eagle (which may be a misidentification, an extinct species, or a cryptid in its own right, but allegedly went 16 feet from wingtip to wingtip). (Episode 42, Big Damn Birds.)

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Ice Worms

It’s hard to live up to what other people say and write about you sometimes. Especially if you’re the unassuming ice worm, a bitty little actual critter that prefers to live on the frozen surface of glaciers in Alaska and Canada. In fact, if you pick one up, your body heat will cause it to melt and die. They live on algae and pollen that falls on the glacier, and burrow into the ice itself to avoid the warming rays of the sun. They can only dream of being the 50-foot-long titans described by the more excitable legends of the ice worm. In fact, they can’t even live up to the four-inch-long depiction in Robert Service’s poem, “The Ballad of the Ice Worm Cocktail.” (Episode 43, The Ballad of the Ice Worm.)

More critters and cryptids to follow, including the wrestling octopuses, good dogs, giant cats, the Pend Oreille Paddler, batsquatch, Steller’s Sea Ape, the geoduck, and of course a complete guide to our Bigfoot coverage.