Sea Monster of West Africa .
Etymology: Coined by Karl Shuker after the
name of the country, The Gambia .
Variant name: Kunthum belein (Mandinka
word for dolphin, literally “cutting jaws”).
Physical description: Smooth, scaleless skin.
Length, 15 feet. Width, 5 feet. Dark brown on
top, white below. Dolphin like head. Sma ll,
brown eyes. Jaws, 18 inches in length, with
eighty sharp, conical, uniform teeth. No blowhole.
Nostrils a re a t the tip of the jaws. Short
neck. No dorsal fin. Four paddle-shaped flippers,
ea ch 18 inches long. Pointed tail, 5 feet
long. No flukes.
Distribution: Kotu, The Gambia .
Significant sighting: On June 12, 1983, Owen
Burnham discovered the carcass of an odd sea
creature washed up on the beach near the Bungalow
Beach Hotel at Kotu. Local people were
in the process of cutting off the head to sell
when he found it.
(1) The combination of four paddles, eighty
teeth, lack of scales and blowhole, and long
tail rules out sea snakes, cetaceans,
sirenians, modern reptiles, and fish.
(2) Fossil archaic basilosaurid whales only
had forty teeth.
(3) Shepherd’s beaked whale (Tasmacetus
shepherdi) matches somewhat in coloration,
but it ha s a blowhole, tail flukes, a dorsal
fin, a much shorter beak, no nostrils, and
no pelvic flippers. In addition, this rare
cetacean prefers the cold water of New
Zealand and the South Atlantic.
(4) A surviving pliosaur, a member of a
group of short-necked plesiosaurs with large
heads, elongated jaws with massive teeth,
two sets of flippers, and pointed tails. In
some larger species such a s Kronosaurus
queenslandicus (over 40 feet), the skull was
as much a s 10 feet long. These marine
reptiles lived 200–65 million yea rs ago
(from the Early Jurassic to the end of the
Cretaceous), swam underwater
aerodynamically like penguins, and were
probably pursuit predators.
(5) A surviving mosasaur, a group of twenty
genera that included some of the largest
marine reptiles ever, frequently exceeding
33 feet in length. They lived in the Late
Cretaceous, 95–65 million years ago, and
had large, conical teeth, each set in a deep
"Gambo" is the name given to a carcass of an unidentified large marine animal that was reportedly washed up on Bungalow Beach in The Gambia.
The carcass of the Gambo was reported to have been discovered by 15-year-old Owen Burnham and his family on the morning of June 12, 1983. Owen, a wildlife enthusiast, decided to take measurements and then make sketches since he did not have a camera at the time. According to later testimony, he did not think to take a sample until after he realized he could not identify it in any books. According to Owen, local villagers called it a "dolphin", but that was likely only because of the superficial similarity.
The carcass was later decapitated by local villagers, and the head was sold to a tourist. Its body was then buried and attempts to relocate it have failed.
After Owen mentioned the carcass in a newspaper article three years after the event, it caught the attention of cryptozoologist Karl Shuker who requested more information on the carcass. According to Owen, the carcass showed little or no signs of decomposition and measured around 15 feet (4.6 m) in length. The coloration was brown on top and white below, and the skin itself was smooth. The most specific measurements were taken on the head, which was 4.5 feet (1.4 m) in length. It had a beak measuring 2.5 feet (0.76 m) long, 5.5 inches tall, and 5 inches (130 mm) wide with 80 uniform and conical teeth. A small pair of nostrils were present at the tip of the beak. The somewhat domed head measured 10 inches (250 mm) tall and 1-foot (0.30 m) wide, and had small eyes. The front pair of flippers measured 1.5 feet (0.46 m) long by 8 inches (200 mm) wide. One of the rear flippers was badly damaged and nearly torn off, revealing some intestine. The waterlogged and bloated body was around 6 feet (1.8 m) long with a 5-foot (1.5 m) girth. No fin was present on the top of the animal. The tail was long and pointed, and measured around 5 feet (1.5 m) in length.
There has been a great deal of speculation as to what the carcass could have been in life. Some, such as paleontologist Darren Naish, question whether the carcass ever existed in the first place. Naish expresses doubt that the carcass was real, and finds it suspicious that no sample was taken. Cryptozoologist Chris Orrick proposed that it was a severely mangled Shepherd's Beaked Whale that was twisted so that the dorsal fin and genital slit lined up, giving the appearance of a torn off limb. Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe speculated that it may be an unknown form of Beaked Whale. Another common suggestion is that the carcass is some sort of surviving prehistoric reptile. Shuker proposed initially that it was either a pliosaur or a thalattosuchia crocodile, but later referred to it as "the last of the mosasaurs." A 2006 expedition by the Centre for Fortean Zoology failed to uncover any remains of the creature at the alleged burial site. They also learnt from local people that the carcass was possibly that of a dolphin.
"Gambo" has been connected to many sporadic reports of crocodile-like sea serpents.