Mystery in Spain
Spain’s natural lakes tend to be very small, and the larger ones are all reservoirs of recent origin. Some of the country’s rivers are almost dry throughout the year. It is hardly a surprise, then, that Spanish lake monsters are rare and mostly unimpressive beasts.  But there is one exception.
In an article dated 24 November 1955, the Spanish newspaper ABC brought its readers astonishing news from the town of Ecija, in the province of Seville, on the banks of the Rio Genil. The Genil, with a length of 360km, is one of the longest Spanish rivers, a tributary of the Guadalquivir which empties into the Bay of Cadiz and the Atlantic Ocean. Ecija is about 70km from the southern coast of Spain, but well over 200km, as the crow flies, from the Atlantic, and even further away from the sea as the river flows.
“In the bow the River Genil makes near this city, in the proximity of a flour mill, and close to the agricultural shores of the plains of the valley, several people from said town, among them Manuel Vargas Baena, Concepción Montenegro Alvarez and one of her nephews, Adolfo Avalos Montenegro, have seen a strange animal, of the form and size of a wolfshound, but with a far longer body, a dark red back and white underside, a delicate head which terminates in a pointed snout, and with two dark horns rising from its forehead some 20cm long, and with a large and bushy tail. The animal caused panic among the gardeners. They fired several shots at it, but it could not be captured, as it immediately submerged in the water and remained there hidden until the danger was over… The animal is completely unknown in the region. It is assumed it belongs to the manatees.” 
The sighting was extensively commented upon in newspapers. The citizens of Ecija could not determine what species of animal it was, and neither can we; there is no such aquatic animal in Spain or anywhere else. On the following day, the journalist Tircuato Luca de Tena also suggested it was a manatee. Some of these comparisons were rather forced: both creatures have reddish skin, the Ecija animal had two horns, while the manatee is also called the ‘sea cow’, and so on. 
The manatee identification is an unlikely one. Ecija is far from the sea, in the middle of the province of Seville, and a manatee in Spain would perhaps be a greater wonder than a completely unrecorded animal.
But a month later, in an ironic commentary on silly season animal stories of 1955 (a hen that gave birth to two dogs and the like), journalist Jose de las Cuevas refers to the Ecija animal with many additional details, which he must have drawn from local newspapers.
We now learn that the creature was encountered “every evening on a small island in front of the city quarter of Puerto Palma”. It resembled “a cross between a large nutria [or coypu] and a domestic pig… This monster, to date, has limited itself to eating peppers and some of the cocks that live in the region. Monster enthusiasts assume the creature is a nutria or gigantic seal.” Jose de las Cuevas points out that seals are not unknown along the coast of Andalucia, and quotes several examples, but all from the Mediterranean, whereas the Genil flows into the Atlantic. 
Horned seals are as rare – orthodox zoologists would say nonexistent – as horned manatees, and a little out-of-place in the centre of Spain. If Cuevas has not made up these additional details, we can infer that there had been several sightings, that the creature was semi-aquatic and came ashore, and that several killed birds were attributed to it – an early chupacabras?
However, the story was not yet over. In a further ABC report three years later from Puente Genil, about 40km downstream to the south of Ecija in the Spanish province of Cordoba, but on the banks of the same river, we hear that:
“Don Nicolás Chapparo has captured in the Rio Genil a strange animal resembling a small buffalo. It has no eyes, but possesses six legs and a large horn [or trunk] on its forehead. Its body is covered with a large shell of black colour.” 
This sounds very much like a large leatherback turtle; yet what would a leatherback turtle be doing in a freshwater river 200km from the sea? Was this the same strange creature sighted at Ecija in 1955, minus one of its horns? As you can see, this second incident was reported without a reference to the previous sightings; both cases were seen by the press as isolated and not connected.
Whatever it was, it was bizarre. More bizarre, I’d say, than a stranded manatee, seal, or turtle. If this was not a hoax, or series of hoaxes, some creature – possibly exotic – lived in the river Genil, at least from late 1955 to mid-1958.