Within cryptozoology, there are some stories that become legendary. Some of them take on mythical status, even, and become known far and wide. Others, meanwhile, remain very much localized - albeit no less legendary.
One beast that definitely falls into this latter category I have dubbed "The Great Eel of Birmingham."
For overseas readers, Birmingham is a city in central England situated around seven miles from where I grew up. It's very much an industrialized area, and hardly the sort of place that would be considered home to a marauding monster.
But sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and legends are duly born.
Back in the 1980s, as I well recall, rumors began to circulate among local Forteans of sightings of a huge eel seen lurking in the dark waters of the winding canals that both surround and cut through Birmingham.
One particularly memorable account originated with a lorry-driver who recalled such a sighting somewhere in Birmingham in the latter part of the 1980s; and that "shook the staff rigid" at a plumber’s merchants that overlooked the stretch of canal in question.
In this case, the animal was described as being dark brown in color and was said to be no less than an astonishing fifteen feet in length. Supposedly, it had been briefly seen by a fork-lift driver, who had sat, not surprisingly mesmerized, watching it "circling" one particular area of the canal frequented by a large number of semi-tame ducks that the staff at the plumber’s merchant would regularly feed with bread during their daily lunch-hour.
Several other such stories of a distinctly similar nature caught my attention during that long-gone era; and I'm actually in little doubt that something monstrous had indeed made the canals of Birmingham its home - albeit for a brief period, and presumably before moving on.
And although the eel appears to be long gone, the legend lives on.
If anyone knows more about this curious creature and its exploits, I'd be pleased to hear from you.