The ocean has always bewildered people, the great blue that seems to go on forever calls to humanity. It offers us so much sustenance and also is dangerous and causes an inbuilt fear in the hearts of people. From the time the first canoes hit the water, there have been stories and tales of monsters that lurk the great depths of the ocean and stories of unknown water beasts still carry on to this day.
Everything from enchanting mermaids and sirens to leviathan squids and sea dragons fall into the category of a sea monster. Every culture and every seaside region in the world have some kind of sea monster in their lore. From the sea to the creeks and rivers, people have been experiencing unknown and mythical beings that live and raise out of the water, but today we’ll be focusing on those monsters who live in the deep blue.
Pliny the Elder talks about the Aspidochelone, which is a giant turtle, so large that when it comes up to rest on the water, it looks like a giant land mass. It has sand, spines on it’s back which look like rocky crevices, it has tress and foliage which trick sailors into making berth on it. Once they light a fire, they release the island is actually the Aspidochelone when the whole area shakes and rattles and the Aspidochelone dives down into the ocean because it’s awoken from the heat of the fire.
One of the most famous sea monsters are the Kraken!! It originates from ancient Scandinavian mythology. The Kraken is a gigantic squid like creature that attacks ships and devours whales. For thousands of years the Kraken was considered simply a sea story and tales told by ignorant and drunk sailors. However, there were a lot of people over the centuries that have claimed to have seen a mythical kraken. Finally, in 1853, Carl Linnaeus found a body of a Giant Squid washed up on the shore and took its beak for scientist classification. It is believed this is what people actually saw when they saw a Kraken, after all giant squids are massive, up to 13m long and eat whales. For 150 years, scientists have been searching for the Giant Squid and in 2002 Japanese scientists finally managed to take a photo of a giant squid. So tales of the Kraken weren’t just sea stories after all.
People have been believing in Sirens roughly 3000 before the birth of Christ. Stories of this mythical sea creature originated in the area where Ancient Greece civilisation evolved. Yes, it’s that old that it’s older than Ancient Greece. Basically, Sirens are beautiful woe with the wings and legs of birds. They carried harps and had beautiful singing voices. Originally there were both male and female sirens, however in 500 BCE, the telling of male sirens disappear from the stories and only females are talked about. It is believed that sirens use their beautiful singing voices to lull sailors to sleep, then climb onto the ship and kill all on board. It is also believed sirens enchant sailors with their voices to cause shipwrecks on rocky shores.
The Rainbow Fish is a legend that originated in India. In Hindu mythology, it was a giant fish that ate Buddha who was there in the form of Vishnu. It was caught by some fishermen and killed which allowed Vishnu to be free and the fish was used to feed a nation for a year. It is said the scales of the Rainbow Fish are blue which represented the element of water, green which represented the element of earth, red which represented fire and yellow which represented air.
The Taniwha originate from the Maori people of New Zealand. They are monsters that appear as a whale or a large shark and live in pools, cards and in the sea where there are dangerous currents. Some people consider them to be protective guardians who look after those who sail the seas in canoes. Others consider them to be dangerous and wife stealers. Some parts of New Zealand suggest the Taniwha created harbours and channels out to the ocean.
So what could be the cause of belief and sightings of sea monsters? Often beach side communities find washed up carcasses or globsters on the shore which look nothing like any known animal. A lot of the times, these are animals such as sharks, whales, jellyfish and other animals which have died while at sea and partially decomposed. Other reasons given for people seeing strange things at sea range from drunkenness, animals which appear to look humanoid like manatees nursing their babies, hallucinations and people seeing animals that they do not recognise. I remember when I went whale watching, even though I know what whales are and what they look like, seeing them in real life was left me awe. You can't see the whole animal from a boat, only their backs and the top of their tails and they definitely look like something from ancient pictures of sea serpents. I can definitely understand why people believe in sea monsters. Or, as in the case of the Kraken, people have actually been seeing legitimate animals which they have labelled as sea monsters and science was still catching up with documenting and studying these animals off the deep.
Who knows what lurks under the deep, dark waters of the great blue sea? Eighty percent of the ocean isn’t explored, mapped or even observed. There is a chance a mermaid, Rainbow Fish or Hydra might be living somewhere in the unknown believed to be a myth, just as the Kraken once was!! Y’all come back now hear!!