"Chessie" (The Chesapeake Bay Phenomenon)

In 1982, the Enigma Project became inextricably involved in investigating and documenting reports of a Chesapeake Bay Phenomenon. For nearly twenty years, newspapers of Maryland and Virginia have been documenting reports of a huge, snake-like animal allegedly seen in the Chesapeake Bay and its larger tributaries. The mysterious beast, nicknamed "Chessie" by the press, has been repeatedly described as serpentine, about twenty-five to forty feet in length, eight to ten inches in diameter, and possessing an elliptical or football-shaped head. Reportedly, the creature is a uniformly dark color, having no fins or bodily appendages.


Although the Project has secured interviews with retired watermen who recalled talk of "giant snakes" seen many years ago in southern Maryland's swamps, Chessie's notoriety really surfaced as recently as 1978 when Virginia newspapers began printing contemporary sightings of the beast.

For several years reported sightings of the alleged animal remained unsubstantiated until May 31, 1982. On that date around 7:30 PM, Maryland resident Robert Frew videotaped a long, dark, serpent-like creature swimming in the Chesapeake Bay, about 100 feet off the bulkhead of his Kent Island home. The less-than 2 minutes of video recording that Frew shot proved to be very interesting and quickly came to the attention of the Enigma Project researchers who launched an investigation of it.

On August 20, 1982, The Enigma Project succeeded in getting the Frew videotape an audience with Dr. George Zug and other scientists at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History. After thoroughly examining the tape the scientists, although intrigued by what it apparently depicted, were unable to reach any conclusions about the "animate" object shown. The videotape's quality was simply not good enough to allow such a determination.

As a result of the publicity concerning the Smithsonian's viewing, Enigma Project directors were contacted, the following September, by scientists at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. Researchers at the Applied Physics Laboratory offered to perform computer image enhancement of the Frew Tape in an effort to extract from it more information about the mystery animal. The computer work initially conducted isolated an impressive, unmistakable, serpentine shape from the surrounding waters. Unfortunately, soon after the enhancement techniques began, the internal funding that the Applied Physics Laboratory allowed for the Frew videotape work ran out. Further enhancements on the Frew tape have been suspended pending the availability of some outside source of funding. Since 1983 the videotape has remained in limbo.

Presently, no one knows what Chessie is. Nevertheless, compelling detailed reports from credible, reliable witnesses suggest the possibility of an unknown animal. Although the number of Chessie reports vary from year to year, they persist all the same. The Enigma Project's investigation of the Chesapeake Bay Phenomenon continues.

2000 M.A. Frizzell