Essential Tips for Beginning and Advanced Aquatic Explorers

"Monster Spotting," as defined by Scott Francis in his excellent and highly recommended book The Monster Spotter's Guide to North America, is "the paranormal equivalent of bird-watching . . . Some people might even find it endearing." It is much more humane and much less life-consuming than monster hunting, says Mr. Francis--unless of course you're looking to get rid of a monster that's causing a lot of harm and is an invasive species that's depleting the local ecosystem.

Anyway, aquabeastie-spotting can be one of the most exhilarating and mysterious kinds of monster-spotting.  Of course, aquabeastie-spotters must search with caution, especially in places known to harbor dangerous known water animals. Fantastic traits to have for such an activity are high lung capacity, physical fitness, fearlessness, and a spirit of adventure. That said, here's a checklist of handy-dandy supplies to have at your disposal while on a good ol' fashioned aquamonster-spotting expedition.

The Basics
  • Bathing suit
  • Wetsuit for more frigid monster abodes such as the grey northeastern ocean or the depths of Canada's lakes
  • Goggles or mask and snorkel
  • Flippers
  • Food and water
  • A towel--according to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "A towel . . . is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have" (Adams). This probably applies to a water-monster-spotter too.
A Little Deeper . . .
  • Binoculars or a good telescope for spotting creatures way out to sea
  • Maps, preferably topographical, of the area
  • Brown, green, or blue clothes so you can blend in
  • Tough cargo pants or shorts with lots of pockets
  • Cell phone to stay in contact with fellow aquabeasties spotters, keep track of time, and phone for help
  • Notebook and pencil or pen to record observations
  • Camera/Camcorder . . . obviously
  • Voice recorder, preferably tape and sound-activated
  • Good trail shoes
  • Altimeter--incredibly useful for measuring elevation, which can be essential when trying to see if the presence of underground water tunnels or such things is possible. Here's one on the Altimeter Store, and another one that looks well-priced and hardy.
  • Sunscreen
If You're REALLY Serious
  • A boat--it can even be a kayak or one of those inflatable boats--although the latter are usually made of PVC, a material which may be harmful to the environment and us
  • Underwater camera
  • Fish finder
  • Big bag full of meat to attract monsters
  • Scuba tank
  • Aqua lung
And a backpack to hold it all of course.

Happy spotting!