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Sea monster

Sea monsters are mythical and legendary gigantic sea-dwelling creatures (but see also lake monster). Monsters of this type are classically depicted as either some sort of dragon, serpent, or giant squid, slimy or scaly, often spouting jets of water. The decorative drawings of heraldic dolphins and sea monsters that were frequently used throughout history to illustrate maps died away with modern cartography. Following the public success of the freshwater Loch Ness Monster, many similar sightings have been reported, of interest to chambers of commerce, local journalists and cryptozoologists.

The most circumstantial accounts of sea-monsters have arisen in cultures where traditional lore and modern scientific observation coexist, such as in early modern Europe and contemporary China. Sir Humphrey Gilbert of Newfoundland (1583)claimed to have encountered a lion-like monster with "glaring eyes". Another account of an encounter with a sea monster comes from July 1734 known as "The Good Hope Sighting". Hans Egede, a missionary sailing near the Dutch Cape Colony of Good Hope on the David Strait reported:

[There] appeared a very terrible sea-animal, which raised itself so high above the water, that its head reached above our maintop. It had a long, sharp snout, and blew like a whale, had broad, large flippers, and the body was, as it were, covered with hard skin, and it was very wrinkled and uneven on its skin; moreover on the lower part it was formed like a snake, and when it went under water again, it cast itself backwards, and in doing so it raised it tail above the water, a whole ship length from its body. The evening we had very bad weather.

It is debatable what these "monsters" might be: possibilities include frilled shark, basking shark, oarfish, giant squid, and whales. Fanciful connections are made with imagined survivors among the giant marine reptiles of the Jurassic and Cretaceous (see under ichthyosaur and plesiosaur). The alleged plesiosaur netted by a Japanese trawler off New Zealand caused a sensation in 1977 and was immortalized on a Japanese postage stamp, before it turned out to be the decomposing carcass of a basking shark. Likewise DNA testing confirmed that a sea monster washed up on Fortune Bay, Newfoundland in August 2001 was a sperm whale. Another modern example of a "sea monster" was the strange creature washed up on the Chilean sea shore in July 2003. It was first described as a "mammoth jellyfish as long as a bus" but was later determined to be the corpse of a sperm whale. It is likely that many other reports of sea monsters are misinterpreted sightings of shark and whale carcasses, floating kelp, logs or other flotsam such as abandoned rafts, canoes and fishing nets. (See the so-called 'Caspian Sea Monster.')

Table of contents
1 Legendary sea monsters
2 Modern sea monsters of popular culture
3 Fictional sea monsters
4 References

Legendary sea monsters

Modern sea monsters of popular culture

Fictional sea monsters

Charybdis, of Homer
  • Cthulhu, of H. P. Lovecraft
  • The Nautilus (Jules Verne)
  • Remoras (in the ancient sense)
  • Scylla, of Homer
  • Sirens, of Homer

  • References