A Tough Day For Skeptics

The Shag Harbor UFO Incident

A Tough Day For Skeptics

In the small fishing village of Shag Harbor, Nova Scotia, things were pretty simple and quiet for this modest Canadian province. But on October 4th of 1967, the village would host one of the most well documented UFO incidents of all time.


Residents of the town would report seeing four orange lights in tight formation flashing in rapid sequence across the night sky. A group of teens that were out fishing noticed that the lights were making a brisk descent towards the water. But instead of disappearing into the murky depths, the lights seemed to float effortlessly on the surface before disappearing into the water. Because of this, the teens believed it to be an airplane that had crashed a half mile from the shore. Another young man who had been fishing quickly phoned the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to report the crash of an aircraft. The police dispatcher brushed off the young man, believing him to have been inebriated, but soon, over a dozen other calls flooded the station. Police immediately went out to investigate.

Unbeknownst to the RCMP, Constable Ron Pound was patrolling an area near the alleged incident. He witnessed the four orange lights moving at tremendous speed. As he sped up his vehicle, he believed the four lights to all be connected to a single aircraft and estimated it to be about sixty feet in length. He reached the shoreline where he was soon joined by fellow officers, Police Corporal Victor Werbieki, and Constable Ron O'Brien. Along with over thirty other witnesses, they all watched as the orange lights slowly changed to a yellowish tint, and it moved eerily slow across the surface of the water, leaving a similar yellowish colored foam in its wake. Some witnesses claimed to have seen the actual structure of the object, reporting it as “dome-shaped.”

Due to the exhaustive dedication by MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) investigators, Chris Styles and Don Ledger were able to compile a list of first-hand witnesses, and individuals involved with the search and recovery efforts. It soon became clear that this case wasn't as cut and dry as first thought. RCMP was told that no aircraft had been reported missing, which may have been true. But the object itself was indeed tracked. And where it submerged into the water, the radar's were able to follow the object another twenty-five miles to an area known as Government Point. In the early 1960s, the United States maintained a small military base there and were using a highly technical tracking radar known as a MAD (Magnetic Anomaly Detection) grid, for the sole purpose of tracking submarines in the North Atlantic sea. It was with this grid that the U.S. tracked the Shag Harbor object and dispatched Navy vessels to surround it. For three days, the object showed no signs of function or activity. And then another object appeared under the water to accompany the first. The NAVY stood by for nearly a week and held position over the two objects, not exactly sure how to proceed in terms of possible threat or the scary possibility that more objects would appear. It was in this highly tense week that a Russian submarine had breached Canadian waters, and several Navy vessels from the UFO incident were sent to investigate. This is when the UFOs made their move towards the Gulf of Maine. The Navy vessels pursued the objects, but simply could not keep up with the tremendous speed. In complete shock and awe, the objects ascending to the surface, and shot skyward, disappearing completely out of sight.


The object then began to sink into the ice-cold waters, a loud “whooshing” sound being heard by several witnesses. The Canadian Coast Guard was called to the scene, but before they could arrive, two RCMP officers had already secured local fishermen's boats and headed towards the area for a possible search and rescue mission. The lights were no longer visible, but the yellow foam remained. The officers and fisherman who assisted, all said that the foam was like no sea foam they had ever seen, much thicker than anything that could be caused naturally. They had to cut their way through it just to look for survivors of the supposed crash. After several hours of searching, nothing could be found. The RCMP, along with The Coast Guard, contacted their local NORAD station and the Rescue Coordination Center, asking if there had been any reports that evening of a missing aircraft either civilian or military. They had nothing.

The following morning of October 5th, the Canadian Forces Headquarters sent out specially trained divers from the Navy and RCMP to systematically search the seabed in the alleged area where the crash had occurred. They searched for several days and found absolutely nothing. Local newspapers began to circulate speculative theories of a Russian spacecraft, submarine, or spy satellite being the enigmatic culprit. There were also rumors that the United States had launched their own investigation into the incident. Slowly, the headlines made their way to the back of the newspapers and soon faded into obscurity as most UFO cases do. But in a similar fashion to previous cases, the nail in the coffin is twisted upward, and new information soon came to light on the Shag Harbor incident in 1993.

(Artwork by Hal Crawford in "Canadian UFO Report, No. 1", August 1967.)

(Artwork by Hal Crawford in "Canadian UFO Report, No. 1", August 1967.)

It should be noted that these accounts came from highly credible individuals involved with the incident, but their names were protected by both MUFON investigators, Styles and Ledger, to protect them from possible threat or security oaths, therefore the aforementioned information, just like most witness testimony, was given “off the record”. No matter the case, something extremely strange occurred in Shag Harbor on that dark, cold night, and even stretched southward towards the United States. It could perhaps be best summarized with a quote from an October 14th editorial from The Chronicle-Herald : "Imagination and/or natural phenomena seem to be the weakest, of explanations. It has been a tough week for skeptics."


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Ryan Sprague is a professional playwright & screenwriter in New York City. He is also an investigative journalist specializing in the topic of UFOs. He has written for numerous publications, including Open Minds Magazine, Phenomena Magazine, and UFO Truth Magazine. Speaking on the UFO topic, he has been featured on ABC News, Fox News, and The Science Channel. He is also a regular on the Travel Channel's Mysteries at the Museum. Ryan is the co-host for both the Into the Fray & UFOmodPOD podcasts. Learn more at www.somewhereintheskies.com

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