Thursday, July 30, 2015

Is the 'Mocca-conda' the Alabama River's answer to the Loch Nest Monster?

The prehistoric Titanoboa snake.
More than a few people during the past week have asked me about the “Mocca-conda” (pronounced like “Mock-A-Con-Da”) story, so in this space this week, I’m going to put the story down on paper for those of you who haven’t heard it.

Several weeks ago, one of our readers from Monroe County asked me why I hadn’t written about the “Mocca-conda” sightings on the Alabama River. I had no idea what he was talking about, and he seemed to be somewhat surprised that I hadn’t heard about it.

Supposedly, according to him (he asked me not to reveal his name because he’s afraid people will make fun of him), two fishermen, sometime within the past year, were fishing from a boat at night on the Alabama River somewhere between the sandbar at Bailey’s Creek and the Claiborne Lock & Dam. They were anchored 30 or 40 yards off the east bank when they heard an unusual noise.

At first, they thought it was maybe a large alligator entering the water or a tree trunk or branch that had splashed into the water. One of the fishermen took out a spotlight and shined it toward the source of the noise. Needless to say, they didn’t expect to see what they saw next.

According to the story, the beam of the spotlight fell on an enormous snake that was stretched out along the bank. According to them, it “looked like a water moccasin but was big like an anaconda,” hence the name “Mocca-conda.”

Supposedly, the fisherman holding the spotlight was so shocked and horrified by what he saw that he accidentally dropped his spotlight into the river. As the light spiraled down into the murky waters below, the two fishermen were plunged into darkness with this giant snake about 100 feet away. The story goes that these two fishermen wasted no time in getting out of the area, and one can only wonder if they even bothered to pull up the anchor before they left.

During the past several weeks, I’ve discussed the “Mocca-conda” with folks from all walks of life, and they’ve offered up a number of theories. Some don’t believe the tale at all while others say it was probably a misidentified catfish or a piece of driftwood.

One man said that it’s possible that it’s a non-indigenous snake like a Burmese Python that has gotten this far north. He said there are thousands of them in South Florida, they grow to 16 feet or longer and can eat a deer or alligator whole. Others think the two fishermen may have been hitting the moonshine too hard.

Whatever the case, large snakes in Alabama are not unheard of. In fact, reports of a 10 to 15-foot long python living near the Chattahoochee River in East Alabama surfaced in April. That snake was reported by Randy Sanders of Abbeville, who said that the snake had a “head as large as a five-gallon bucket.”

Of course, there’s always the outside chance that the “Mocca-conda” is a Loch Ness Monster-like prehistoric throwback like the Titanoboa snake. This snake could grow up to 43 feet long and was possibly the largest non-marine creature living on earth at one time. Thankfully, this snake has supposedly been extinct for 58 to 60 million years.

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