Strange Sightings: Is There a Manatee in Sardis Lake?

This article has been updated with additional comments from Facebook users.

Fishermen at Sardis Lake have reported seeing a strange creature moving through the waters, and some believe it’s a manatee.

Ian Tailyour sent publisher Ed Meek the above photo earlier this week in an email. “It’s not a catfish,” he said. “[It] moves slow and comes up to the boat.”

“It looks like a manatee, about half size,” he added.

Former Oxford attorney Dickie Scruggs reported a similar encounter on Facebook. “This thing lunged at us at Sardis Lake on Monday,” he wrote. “Does anyone know what it is?”

In a comment on’s Facebook page, Grace Emily said she has seen something strange in the water, too. “Me and my lil family went there recently and kept seeing and hearing something big flop in the water. I stopped going,” she posted.

“I heard the sound of it and looked at the last moment,” she added. “I let that happen three times and I grabbed my baby and we left! I kept trying to tell myself it was just a fish but fish or nah, that splash was bigger than I felt comfortable swimming with.”

Skeptics have other ideas, however. Several Facebook users said the weird creature or object is most likely a colony of bryozoa

Charles W. Mullen told fellow Facebook users that he has fished Sardis Lake all his life. “That picture is of a bryozoan,” he commented. “Go all over the lake in the fall and look around. They’ll be stuck all over the trees and floating around. The water current from the wind and the pull of the spillway will keep them moving. Otherwise, they’re inanimate objects.”

Rick Hynum is editor-in-chief of Email him at


  1. I’ve lived at Coles Point on Sardis for 15 years, we have all seen this creature several times. Sometimes they are curious and come up to boats and close to shore. A friend of mine fouled hooked one once, I was with him, I wish I had a camera, they look like a manatee, but about half the size.