The ocean is a fascinating place; within this year, a new species of whale was discovered. For perspective, this is an animal which had never been spotted before and had managed to conceal itself for years – centuries perhaps – without humans knowing about it and it makes you wonder, ‘what else could be lurking beneath the sea?’
That huge body of water that covers 70% of the Earth’s surface is a mysterious place and to date, less than 10% of the oceans have been explored. You would think that all the horror stories that circulated amongst sailors and subsequently churned into the stuff of legend has since been put to bed. Stories of fearsome sea serpents and killer monsters that lurked beneath the surface of the choppy seas was the vogue back then. But was there some truth to any of the claims?
In celebration of Discovery Channel’s recent Shark Week we’ve compiled a list of the top four sea monsters to earn a leaf in the history books and our imaginations:
The figure of the mermaid was undoubtedly made wildly popular with Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Little Mermaid. We’re all quite familiar with the likeable character of Ariel, but before she became the face of mer-people everywhere, mermaids often featured in folklore and mythology as malevolent, manipulative creatures known to cause floods, shipwrecks and drowning’s. Today, mermaid sightings are still being issued and there’s plenty of material online to fuel the fires. Check out this video as exhibit A:
Reported sightings of sea serpents or sea dragons have been going on for hundreds of years. It is now widely believed that most sightings can be accounted for by way of mistaken identity; often, frilled sharks, whales or oarfish are responsible for being the dreaded sea serpent.
This massive shark actually existed several billion years ago and a popular debate amongst scientists is its family tree, and whether or not the great white shark is its present-day descendant. Since the megalodon was comprised primarily of cartilage there are not many fossil fragments readily available for inspection. However, it is estimated that this marine beast grew to a length of 15 – 20 metres. Impressive!
Stories of this legendary sea monster may have started out from reported sightings off of the coast of Norway and Greenland, but its status as a fearsome sea creature has since evolved and the name has come to resonate with any sea dwelling monster. It is speculated that the concept of the kraken developed from sightings of giant squid – a real life sea creature that lives in the depths of the ocean. In 2006 an adult giant squid was caught on camera for the first time, see the footage here:
To our knowledge, sea monsters exist primarily in our imagination and there are some interesting interpretations of these mythical beasts in art. For a laugh, have a look at this movie trailer for a film titled Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, which looks like it could actually be a match-up between the megalodon and the kraken: