Is Toothfish Real?
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Is Toothfish Real?

Q. Have you ever seen Toothfish yourself?

Not personally, although something resembling the reported creature or entity did show up in photographs I took at an old gun emplacement near Wellington. I was concerned with photographing the ‘street art’ there at the time when this manifestation appeared and ruined several of the images. I couldn’t actually see the thing at the time and didn’t know I’d photographed it until later when I looked at the photos on my computer.

One possible explanation for this photographic phenomenon is a human being in a mask wandering into the scene during a long exposure, when I wasn’t paying particular attention. (Many ‘ghost’ photographs of the 19th and early 20th centuries, mostly of architectural interiors, were caused by people intruding during the necessarily long time exposures, and the photographer was often unaware.) However it is notable the masked (or animal-headed) figure also seems to be wearing thigh boots, underwear, and may be wielding a whip. If I did not see this being’s approach, I certainly would’ve been alerted to its presence by the distinctive tattoo of stiletto heels on concrete. That is, if the being was physical in nature.



1. Toothfish - Wellington - New Zealand - August 2011

Alternatively, I am reminded of the ‘Thoughtographs’ of Ted Serios, a man who somehow was able to mentally project recognisable images onto film; and I wonder if some peculiar aspect of the architecture of the gun emplacements coupled with the underlying ley lines and the three cups of coffee I had drunk somehow came together to produce the effect from my own subconscious mind.

2. Ted Serios in Action -

So it could be some kind of photographic artefact?

Possibly. Some of what we do at Strange Occurrences involves examining photographs of suspected paranormal phenomena and (usually) offering plausible explanations for the anomalous effects shown. Normally, the reasons can be divided into two broad categories

  • physical and electronic effects relating to the photography and image processing
  • psychological interpretations, e.g. pareidolia, the hard-wired human tendency to see patterns in randomness, usually resembling human faces or figures (simulacra).

The Toothfish photographs are either an elaborate hoax conducted on a significant international scale (begging the question; why would anyone go to so much bother?) or they are photographs of an actual, physical being (or beings) of some kind. This may then place the inquiry into the area of cryptozoology, a field in which neither I nor anyone in the Strange Occurrences team possess in-depth knowledge. We are currently consulting with a former DOC scientist and other specialists in that field.



3. Not Toothfish



4. Not Toothfish


5. Possibly Toothfish

6. Not Toothfish

When did you first become aware of Toothfish?

Only in the last two years and most of the accounts and photographs we have received don’t date back more than three. But actually, the appearance of Toothfish may originate decades ago, or even much, much earlier. Toothfish has a certain amount in common with the Scottish water demon or kelpie and also with some of the deva’s or demi-gods from Eastern religions.



A kelpie(or is it Toothfish?)

Recently, I have been studying accounts of a (rather famous) talking mongoose, from the Isle of Man and there is a remarkable correlation between some witness statements concerning this creature of human-like (or greater) intelligence, and the Toothfish reports.


This photo of Toothfish(?) was sent to Strange Occurrences from a paranormal investigator working on the Gef case -  Isle of Man - 2011.

Possibly, the mythical mongoose, named ‘Gef’, is a direct ancestor of Toothfish, or is indeed the same creature (being very long-lived) or else there is no relationship at all.) To date, we are uncertain as to whether Toothfish – if it indeed exists – is a single creature possessing the ability to travel extremely rapidly between locations spanning continents, or whether the being is legion. It is even possible that Toothfish is alien - that is, extraterrestrial - in origin, and possesses the ability to teleport, or even materialise in multiple locations simultaneously.


What are you doing to study the phenomenon?

We have placed operational surveillance equipment at the only site where a Strange Occurrences team member (namely, me) has encountered the phenomenon and the whole team is involved in an ongoing, rotating stake-out of the site(asides from two members currently down with pneumonia!).


The Strange Occurences team at work.

Do you think it’s at all dangerous?

We spend a lot of time and energy trying to assure people that the main type of phenomenon we deal with – that is, ghosts – are perfectly harmless. In the case of Toothfish, we really don’t know. While there has, to date, been nothing in the various accounts we’ve received relating to any harm done to humans or other living things it has apparently stuck up a lot of strange posters on buildings all over the world. What these enigmatic apports ( NB. the paranormal transference or appearance of an object) signify is yet another part of the mystery!

 What should people do if they see the entity?

Observe it, take a photo, shoot a video, talk to it. Interview it, even. But be careful. We are talking about a human-sized or bigger creature with a large, possibly reptilian head and most probably large teeth to go with it. As stated above, please contact Strange Occurrences. We will put you in touch with the best possible people nearest the location of the sighting, even if we can’t travel there ourselves.

Background: James Gilberd co-founded Strange Occurrences in 2005 and is the leader of the Wellington-based paranormal investigation team. With Jo Davy, he co-authored Spooked – Exploring the Paranormal in New Zealand (Random House NZ, 2011). His and the team’s position on most things anomalous or paranormal is neutral to skeptical, as there is a lack of hard evidence for most reported phenomena, and much of the so-called scientific evidence is flawed and/or unable to be repeated by others. He is a specialist in the area of photographic imagery and its analysis

Image credits -

1 Bev Hong - Christchurch 'Ghost-busters' Group

2. James Gilberd - Strange Occurences - Wellington

3. Sourced from Ted Serios -

4. Alien Animals

by Janet and Colin Board(Stackpole books - 1981)

A drawing of the Jersey Devil as seen by Mr and Mrs Nelson Evans in 1909 and originally published in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin

5. Alien Animals

by Janet and Colin Board(Stackpole books -1981)

Drawing of the Bartmouth Sea Monster by Colin Palmer

6. Photographs of the Unknown 

by Robert Rickard and Richard KELLY(Granta Editions Limited -1980)

Film Still  by Roger Patterson -1967

7. The Coming of the Fairies

by Arthur Conan Doyle (The Psychic press- 1928)

8. The Book of Demons

by Victoria Hyatt and Joseph Charles(Simon and Schuster 1971)

9. Photo by Arthur Parrot - Para-Research Inc -isle of Man - 2011

10.The Haunting of Gashen's Gap

by Harry Price and R.S.Lambert( Methuen and Co Ltd - 1936)

Photo by Voirrey irving

11. Photo by James Gilberd - Strange Occurences - 2012

12.Photo by Jean Belin - Hamilton Ghost Hunters Club 2011

13.The Haunting of Gashen's Gap

by Harry Price and R.S.Lambert( Methuen and Co Ltd - 1936)

Drawing of Gef from particulars described by Mr Irving and the mongoose itself

Jef - the talking Mongoose

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