By R. Scott Howes
Innsmouth, MA – Innsmouth is well-known for its diverse topography, and varied plant and animal life. From the shallow salt water marshes to the inland woods where giant ferns grow, few places provide such a rich biosphere. It appears Innsmouth may once again claim distinction from its neighbour communities with the discovery of an unusual species of bat. Though rumours of the sightings have circulated since last spring, it is only now that it may be reported by responsible journalists, as physical samples have been obtained and analysed.
On April 15, 2010, Mr. Thomas McNally; a long time member of the local zoological society, eagerly returned to his hobby of observing nocturnal wildlife after a long winter hiatus. Mr. McNally’s area of study was the woods known as ‘Dutch Grove’. The area, interesting enough for its large stand of Elm trees genetically resistant to Dutch Elm Disease, is now more so as the confirmed habitat of white bats.
Initial reports were met with great skeptism. “I had gone out to verify reports that sugar gliders – flying squirrels – had migrated south into the Grove. My intent was to observe the gliders returning at sunset. Some of the tallest trees locally are found in the Grove, making it a logical choice for the rare mammals to frequent. White bats are very hard to miss,” McNally states with some humour. The doubt cast over early sightings was due in part to the secretive nature of bats and Mr. McNally’s connection to illegal use of horn from the Black Goat. Readers will recall six years ago – while Black Goats were low in number and a protected species – Mr. McNally was arrested in a raid conducted by a joint team of local police and agents from the Department of Fish and Game. McNally maintains that his use of horn was for health purposes and he presently has no connection to it, nor were his initial sightings coloured by intentional or unintentional consumption of Blue Spot mushroom, which is prolific in the Dutch Grove area.
Vindication was a mere two nights away. Accompanied by fellow members of the zoological society, the white bats were sighted and video-recorded. On this occasion, it appeared the white bats were chasing a smaller brown bat. Realising how important this discovery might be, Arkham biology professor, Ernest Wallace – also a member of the zoological society – contacted experts from Miskatonic University. “It was time to call in the big boys,” Prof. Wallace said. Dr. Nyger, representing Miskatonic University, joined the team in the field the following night.
With such an able assembly, it is understandable how quickly study of the white bat proceeded. The flying mammals were tracked and, shortly, stool samples were collected. “Bat poo to some, but a valuable source of data about the creature to us,” Wallace explained. The samples analyzed at the Miskatonic labs revealed much about the bats’ diet. There had been no mistake: The white bats had been hunting the brown bat. The collected guano contained bones and fur of other bats, feathers, and the skull of a robin chick.
Naturally, there is great excitement in academic circles, but Dr. Nyger recommends caution, adherence to scientific protocol, and avoiding undue speculation. Also, he reminded all concerned that there already exist two other species of white, cannibalistic bats – the Ghost of Africa, and the Spectre of Oceania. Experts outside of Innsmouth are, as yet, awestruck over the existence of such a bat in a northern climate. The other key difference between the new discovery and the two previously-known species is the Innsmouth bats’ frugal dining habits. Whereas, the other two eat only the soft tissue, the ‘Innsmouth Haunt’; nicknamed at present time, consumes the entire prey. “It’s a big eater,” Wallace commented.
The most important question regarding the Innsmouth White Bat is whether the group represents a species or a family sharing the same mutation. Despite the possibility of extracting relevant DNA from the guano samples, the University is not equipped for this test, nor is funding available. With respect to known numbers, capturing a bat, even for the purpose of weight and measurement, is considered too great a risk to an endangered population. According to Dr. Nyger, the Spectre bats caught and released back to the wild were never accepted back into the colony.
Now that the bats have gone into hibernation, the investigation will continue through the winter, to see if the roost may be located. In this event, the team will collect samples and tag over the winter months.