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
For more information please go to this link for all the Water monsters listed on this author's page.