The kabagon, meaning “hippo monster” in Japanese, is an unknown creature encountered once off the coast of Lyttleton Harbour, New Zealand, an area important for the transport of goods, handling 34% of exports and 61% of imports to South Island. On April 28th, 1974, the Japanese fishing vessel “28th Kinpiramaru” was fishing off Lyttleton Harbour when all 26 crewmembers noticed a 5 foot wide head poking out of the water, staring at them. It had two large, reddish eyes, wrinkled, grey skin and two large nostrils. The captain of the boat, known only as Kimura, drew a sketch of the animal (see below). During the same time, mysterious giant footprints were found on a beach in the Lyttleton Harbour, although it’s unclear if they are related. The animal was featured in some local New Zealand newspapers but was otherwise unknown to English-speaking cryptozoologists. In Japan, however, it is somewhat known, often being featured in books about cryptozoology.
Some have theorized the kabagon was a vagrant elephant seal, not normally seen in South Island, which does have large eyes, nostrils and can be surprisingly large, with some reaching more than 20 ft in length, though their heads are never that wide, nor do they have a trunk or muzzle. Another interesting theory was proposed by Japanese blogger Kensuke Hanakabe, who speculated they may have seen a sea lion sticking its head vertically out of the water, which can look very unusual at a glance. The only problem with this theory, however, is that New Zealand sea lions only reach about 6.5 ft long, whereas the kabagon’s entire head was about 5 ft wide and 5 ft tall. The kabagon is sometimes compared to, or even speculated to be the same species as the cryptid seen in the Lützow Holm Bay in Antarctica, also seen by a Japanese fishing vessel.