Sea Creatures Throughout History: Sea Serpent, Mermaids and More!
The Deep Blue Sea's Mysteries
Throughout the history of man, the sea has always been a dark, dangerous and mysterious place. Dating back thousands of years, when man first spunked up enough courage to begin to sail the seas, there has been many a legend told of enormous and destructive sea monsters that come from the deep. Shockingly, at least one of these sea creatures has been proven real! Read on to learn more about sea creatures and sea monsters throughout history and today.
The Sea Serpent is a mythical sea monster that has been in Norse mythology for thousands of years. The Norse sailors believed that the Sea Serpent was so long that it's body could wind around the entire earth. Sea serpent sightings have occurred in other parts of the world, including the waters off the coast of China and even off the coast of Massachusetts.
Sea serpents were said to wrap themselves around a ship and take the entire vessel under, along with its terrified passengers. Others said that the Sea Serpent would eat the ship whole...men and all. Some believed that the Sea Serpent was a demon or even the devil himself, as there are passages in the Bible referencing the Leviathon or Rahab (snakes in the sea).
Many sightings have been documented throughout the ages, but there is no solid scientific proof that Sea Serpents exist. I guess we'll have to wait and see if someone will ever discover and prove one's existence. One thing is for sure...I don't want it to be me!
The Illusive Loch Ness Monster
The Loch Ness Monster. This is a story I am sure most people in America and Europe have heard, if not people from all around the world. This infamous yet seemingly gentle sea monster occupies the Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands (Loch Ness is a Loch - a sea inlet). The Loch Ness of Scotland is a very deep body of water, in some places reaching a thousand feet deep, the perfect place for a sea monster to dwell.
There are many people that believe a sea monster lives in the Loch Ness waters, and they call her Nessie. There have been dozens upon dozens of sightings of her, some say they've even seen her cross a road and slither back into the Loch's cold waters. The first sighting of Nessie was in the year of 1934, with many more to follow. The description given by most witnesses tells of a creature with a long neck, broad body, and long wide tail, similar to the plesiosaurus (a prehistoric dinosaur). My question is, how could one survive this long? There would've had to have been more than one in order to survive this long, so does that mean there is at least two that mate and create more? There have been many pictures taken of this supposed monster of the Loch Ness waters. When I look at them, I see either a giraffe or elephant's trunk protruding from the waters. What do you think?
The Giant Man-Eating Squid
If you have ever read Jules Vernes' 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, you will remember the terrifying part of the giant man-eating squid with tentacles that look like a nest of anacondas. This fictional book was inspired by some of the oldest myths of the sea, including the giant squid myth. But here's the scariest part of this hundreds-year-old sea myth, it was based on reality!
That's right! The giant squid is real and in existence today. Now, there is an even larger and more ferocious cousin of the giant squid perusing the seas of the Arctic. It's name - the COLOSSAL squid. The last picture on the right is a real-life picture taken of a colossal squid. It was found by a fishing boat off the coast of Antarctica, with eyes as big as plates and sharp hooks connected to some of its suction cups! Weighing in at nearly a thousand pounds, these sea creatures are speculated to be very fast animals, traveling in speeds up to 20 MPH in the water and are even believed to have the ability to launch themselves out of the water upon will. I can see how myths of giant squid got started!
Mermaids are mythical sea creatures that have inspired writers and movie producers for decades; however, did you know that many sailors throughout the ages believed in mermaids wholeheartedly and would tell you that they were not nice creatures? Belief in mermaids date back to the biblical times, specifically in the Babylonian empire. The Babylonians believed in gods and goddesses which were half-man-half-fish sea creatures, that resided in the sea and ruled the seas.
In Greece, sirens were sometimes pictured as mermaids and they were considered to be extremely dangerous and, if seen, very bad luck. Sirens were thought to be demoted goddesses that were stranded on an island in the Mediterranean, as punishment for some deed they refused to fulfill for a much stronger, ancient Greek Goddess. The tales said they would sing a beautifully enchanting song, which would lure sailors (whether by ship or by swimming) towards their island. Unfortunately, before the men or ships could make it to the island, their bodies or vessels would be dashed upon the jagged rocks.
Mermaids have been a part of many beautiful love stories and fairy tales, some inspiring modern day movies, such as Disney's The Little Mermaid and the 80's film - Splash. And more recently the movie The Shape of Water and TV show Siren. Personally, I love the idea of mermaids and mermen living their lives at a beautiful kingdom in the bottom of the ocean. To this day, many people still believe the existence of mermaids is possible, or at least it could have happened in centuries past. The idea has been discredited by historians and scientists, as they say sailors' sightings of mermaids can be attributed to other sea creatures, such as seals, dolphins or manatees.
Is it possible that sea-people exist or ever existed?
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Aspidochelone - Giant Whale or Turtle
The aspidochelone is a term that isn't spoken or read much today; however, in times when Latin was a widely used language, The Physiologus was written and this term was spread throughout the text. The aspidochelone is a mythic sea creature, either whale or giant turtle, which inhabits the ocean, with its backside sticking up out of the water. This giant sea creature is said to have had sailors land upon it, disembark upon the new found island, and begin making meals over a bonfire. Once the aspidochelone feels the heat on its backside, it dunks its whole body under the sea's water...taking the unlucky sailors and their ships with him.
The aspidochelone is compared to the devil's "wiles", according to the Physiologus. It says: "Such is the fate of all who pay no heed to the Devil and his wiles, and place their hopes in him: tied to him by their works, they are submerged into the burning fire of Gehenna: for such is his guile."
One can see how terrifying this thought might have been to Medieval sailors and their captains. In the times when they crucially need to find land and food, after days of sailing without sufficient supply of food, they might feel very wary of landing on any small island for any reason in fear that they would be drowned to death by a gigantic sea monster and then go to hell! Shew, I sure am glad we have science now!
The belief in giant whales and turtles crosses into many ancient and Medieval cultures, both Pagan and Christian alike. Obviously today many of us do not hold such beliefs, but consider them a part of our world's colorful mythological past.
Various other s ea monster sightings have been recorded throughout history, only to be discredited and even made out to be jokes by the scientific community. I believe that the ocean is so vast and so deep that there could be sea monsters or even human-like creatures dwelling in the sea's depths, just waiting to be discovered. As they say, the ocean is the last frontier!
© 2011 Nicole Canfield