The vast sea has long been a source of wonder. The mind of man has filled the waters of the world with extraordinary creatures.
There have been myriad accounts of sea goers and their encounters with creatures unbeknownst to the world. There are reported attacks, harmless sightings, or mysterious carcasses washing ashore. The descriptions range from giant versions of known species, such as squid or jellyfish, to horned serpents, sea monsters with hair, and anything else imaginable. Many of the "serpents" are said to swim in an undulating manner, unlike the side-to-side motion of fish. There have also been detailed encounters beasts resembling the thought-to-be-extinct dinosaurs, such as the plesiosaur.
Since much of the undiscovered Earth lies underwater, it is appropriate to assume that there are many creatures unknown to humans. To humans, who have limited exploration of the great depths, the underwater world is filled with mysteries and secrets. A sailor who has been at sea for months could be tempted to stretch an episode to make for a more exciting retelling. Exaggeration may even happen unintentionally. Already equipped with active imaginations, people can easily mistake one thing for another, especially when emotions, such as fear or boredom, are added into the mix.
Existing, or "known," creatures that can easily be mistake for the legendary serpents include oarfish and eels. Oarfish are long, slithery fish that are rarely seen. In 1930, Dr. Anton Brun caught what he believed to be an eel larva. It was 2 m (6 ft) long. If it would grow like regular eels, it would mature to eighteen times its current size making the adult over 33 m (110 ft) long. It is likely that many sightings of so-called "monsters" have indeed been genuine. In fact, giant squids (<<make this a link) were thought to be myths until the 1870s.
Another theory is that some of these creatures may be ones we thought extinct. Many versions of water monsters resemble dinosaurs, such as the Loch Ness Monster and the plesiosaur dinosaur. It seems implausible that an animal remains unseen for millions of years. It has happened though, in the case of the coelacanth. A South African fishing trawler caught the strange looking fish in 1938. It had been believed to be extinct for 70 million years. Strangely remarkable, the coelacanth does not have any protective features.
In the case of monster carcasses washed ashore, they are often the decaying bodies of whales or sharks. In 1808 a body with a small head, mane, and a long neck reportedly was stranded on a beach in the Orkney Islands. Some of its vertebrae was kept at the Smithsonian Institute. When examined years later, they were almost identical to those of the basking shark. After the shark dies, the first areas to decompose are the cartilage areas around its face and gill area, causing the jaw to drop off. This leaves what looks like a small head on a thin neck. Its fins would become frayed and one of the two lobes of its tail would decompose first. The resulting mass could unwittingly be mistaken for a long necked sea creature with a long pointed tail.Back to top
Logically speaking, Lake Monsters are less believable than monsters of the deep blue sea. Lakes are smaller bodies of water and therefore more difficult to hide in. Also, they usually located in more frequented areas so it would be expected that conclusive evidence would have been produced by now, either by a hopeful tourist or a patient researcher.Back to top
Loch Ness Monster
Loch Ness, part of a valley in Scotland, is one of, if not the most famous locations for consistent water monster sightings. The lake, created by a glacier, is the largest body of fresh water in Britain. It is almost 2 km (1 mile) wide and 39 km (24 miles) wide. To a person standing at one end, the lake would appear to go on forever. The depth has not been determined but is estimated to be as much as 274 m (900 ft). The water becomes very murky at around 10 m (30 ft) and practically impenetrable by light. The murkiness is generally caused by peat from local bogs. The depth of the lake allows it to remain unfrozen during the winter.
With thousands of eyewitness accounts "Nessie" as the monster is fondly called may be the most "seen" unseen creature. However, the descriptions range from a long serpent-like creature to one with a barrel-shaped body, long neck, and small head. Sometimes she has horns and sometimes she does not. At one point she was like an "international joke" because of the inconsistencies. Of course the sightings do have an element of consistency. Humps are usually seen slightly above the water and sometimes a head on a slender neck is also poking out. The creature glides just under the surface for a time and then submerges back into the deep. The monster is reportedly 10 to 12 m (30 to 40 ft) long.
The earliest recorded sighting of a monster in Loch Ness was written in 565 A. D., one hundred years after the reported incident. St. Columba, the Irishman celebrated for bringing Christianity to Scotland witnessed a "water monster" try to attack a man. The saint intervened, making the sign of the cross and commanding the beast to retreat. The beast fled without wreaking any havoc.
Its possible that this story is just a symbolic myth, with the beast representing an evil power and St. Columbas victory demonstrating the power of prayer. This tale is somehow reminiscent of the story of St. George and the Dragon.
One thousand years later, a nobleman was hunting near Loch Ness and reportedly killed a serpent-like beast, believed to be a dragon. After that, stories of "Nessie" mainly circulated among local folk.
There was an outbreak of sightings in 1933. A contributing factor to the increased incidents was probably the construction of a new road, which brought more people through the remote area thereby generating more potential monster spotters.
There was a widespread Highland belief that a water horse, or kelpie, lived in almost every lake in Scotland. These evil spirits were believed to take pleasure in luring travellers to their drowning deaths. Possibly this the myth stemmed from a need to explain mysterious drowning accidents.
It has also been suggested that many of the sightings around 1930 were an attempt to increase tourism in the area.
The world has yet to see concrete evidence proving the existence of a monster at the bottom of the lake. There are photographs, many of which have been dismissed as pieces of debris in the water, or perhaps they are of other "real" animals, like dogs.
One of the most famous Nessie photographs was taken 1934 by London surgeon R. K. Wilson. Disbelieving naturalists state that the ripples around the neck of the creature are too large, and conclude that it is a diving otter or marine bird, such as a moorhen. Rob Rines, President of the Academy of Applied Science strobe camera caught what resembled a diamond shaped flipper in 1972.
Some photographs may even be of swimming elephants that people only claim to have shot during their vacation to Ireland.Back to top
She is reported to be reddish-brown, green, grey, or somewhere in between. The great beast is described as large and dark with a long neck and humped back. Recorded sightings date back to 1850. When swimming horse disappeared in middle of Lake Okanagan, its drowning attributed to presence of lake demon.
The monster can be found (perhaps) in Okanagan Lake, British Columbia. She has been nicknamed "the Nessie of North America."
The creature of Okanagan lake was known to the aboriginal population as "Nha-a-itk", meaning "lake monster" or "lake demon." The Amerindians accepted its existence as a fact of life, occasionally canoeing to a cave believed to be its home and leaving food offerings.Back to top
Other Lake Monsters
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"The sea serpentor at any rate his cousin, the sea monster... is at least as ancient, and therefore as respectable, as the fairies, and a good deal older than the modern ghost."
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Giant Squids and Octopi
The giant squid has actually been acknowledged by science to exist. In case you dont happen to know how squid look, they have a long, torpedo-shaped body, with 10 tentacles, two of which extend longer than the rest. These are equipped with 3 columns of suctions cup. It has a strong beak, similar to a parrots and large round eyes. A potentially hideous sight when it can grow up to over 45 m long (150 ft).
Giant squid, while proven to exist, are very rarely observed. Therefore, the giant octopus if it indeed does exist would grace us with their presence even less. Octopi are bottom dwellers and usually lurk among the shadows. Bodies of giant squids have been found stranded on some beaches.
Many old mariners tales include crewmembers being whisked off deck by giant tentacles armed with plate sized suction cups. There are also some instances where one of the giant arms are hacked off or found washed up on shore.
A typical storyfantastical yet interestingis as follows:In the late 18th century, a Danish sailing ship was at a standstill off the West African coast. Her captain decided to use the time wisely and had the crew clean the outside of the boat. Suddenly a great monster appeared and with two massive arms, grabbed two men from where they worked on a plank into the water. A third arm wrapped around another sailor but his shipmates cleaved off the arm. They were unable to harpoon the giant. The dismembered arm was tapered to a point and approximately 25 ft long. It was covered with giant suckers.
Stories like these were generally believed in earlier times but people were skeptical of Captain Dens story.
Although there are giant squids, it is unclear whether squids exist that are large enough to destroy entire ships as told in some tales. Many of these stories seem rather exaggerated, as did many adventurous tales at the time. They were abundant during the seafaring days.
There are some whales that carry scars of huge suction marks. However, this is not a very accurate way of estimating the squids size as the scar grows along with the whale.
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The kraken seems to be more rooted in mythology than observance. It is a frightful sea monster that has been described in many different ways. It can be an enormous squid-like creature or a dragon-like creature with horns and humps on its back. A description in 1734, by Danish missionary Hans Egede states:
"The monster was of so huge a size that, coming out of the water, its head reached as high as a mainmast; its body was as bulky as a ship, and three or four times as long. It had a long pointed snout, and spouted like a whalefish; it had a great broad paws; the body seemed covered with shellwork "
It is found in Scandinavian waters. There is a recorded incident of a kraken becoming trapped in the cleft of a rock when it swam to close to the Norwegian shore in 1680. The putrid stench of its rotting body supposedly remained for months.
In response to Hans Egedes sighting, naturalist Henry Lees 19th century drawing suggested how it could have been a giant squid.
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The Tasman Sea Monster
This was the body of an unknown creature picked up by the Japanese trawler Zuiyomaru on April 28, 1977. The carcass disintegrated rapidly and was soon thrown back into the water. The animal was a purported 1815 kg (4000 lbs.) and 10 m (32 ft) long. The crewmembers were the only ones who ended up seeing the body up close. The rest of the world had to settle for photographs. They are fairly clear but the creature was so badly decayed that it was difficult to conclude anything without examination.
It was caught 275 m (900 ft) below the surface of the water just off the coast of New Zealand, in the Tasman Sea.
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