Legends of sea monsters go way back in our history. There is nothing as unconquered as the sea and the life down below. Men who took long sea voyages came across a lot of phenomena, but they also realized how very vulnerable they are to whales, sharks, and the elements. The concept of a sea monster was a great embodiment of that ongoing unknown.
Of the categories of sea monsters, the most romantic and popular one is the mermaid or merman (Iceland). Many cultures carry the mermaid concept of a half woman/half fish. Some attribute mermaids with catastrophes, like shipwrecks, drowning and storms. Even Christopher Columbus reported seeing mermaids in the Caribbean. For centuries they have been portrayed as curious about humans, sometimes seductive, and other times rescuing drowning people. There have also been reports of freshwater mermaids.
One famous (or infamous) version of a mermaid is the "Fiji Mermaid" made by popular as sideshow exhibits in the Victorian Era. PT Barnum made this one infamous in the 1840s. This demented display was a cobbling together of a monkey body and fish body.
Iceland reports the Merman. It comes from a tale of a fisherman and a Merman. Every day the fisherman took off on the water to fish, he would vow to himself, "wealth flows to where there is gold already." Even though he had no success finding gold, he did keep this wish. At the end of his fishing line one day was a man-fish. The fisherman hauled the Merman on board to take him to shore and see what wealth he could fetch. The Merman repeatedly laughed as the man hauled him over his shoulder and up the hill. He told the fisherman that he laughed every time he was being a fool. The Merman led him to gold and sea cows and so the fisherman let him go for keeping a promise to reward him. Ultimately, the lesson learned was to be wary if you catch a merman and he laughs because that is a sign your being a fool.
Another type of sea monster that is most reported is something that resembles a dinosaur.
The Loch Ness Monster is perhaps the most famous of all, but other such dinosaur-like sea monsters have been reported around the world.
Lake Monsters are reported on a long list on Wikipedia. A loooooong one!
Lake Makele is one of the more talked about lakes with a dinosaur-like monster called Mokele-mbembe. Located in the Congo River Basin, this creature has been talked about by locals so thoroughly and so often that one cannot help but take notice. Like the Loch Ness monster, it is described as a sauropod dinosaur.
There have been numerous expeditions for over 100 years to try and locate this creature. In 1966, a man named Ridel found a 3-toed footprint.
In 1979, a missionary working in the region followed the stories closely and reportedly saw the creature himself. He told a tale of the locals having killed and eaten one of the creatures. As the legend unfolded into its full glory, they reported that all the people who had partaken of the beast had died (by illness or curse?)
Among the sea monsters that are most likely to truly exist are enormous fish and squid.
The giant squid was something of a Jules Verne legend, but recent deep sea studies have found them to exist.
The sea is going to prove many species we never imagined, as we explore deeper and deeper into her secrets. After all, with fish like this down deep, imagine the other monster-like beings -
**Tomorrow's post is "Chesapeake Pirate Ghosts and Spooklights"**