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The Sea Serpent – An UNSOLVED Mystery

Last updated on August 17th, 2021

The Sea Serpent Mystery has been one of the most enduring mysteries in human history.

Nobody knows fully what the deep waters of the sea hide from us. Places of which people have lesser knowledge create bigger myths. Folklores of horrifying sea monsters living in the unexplored depths of oceans are very common. These monsters have been described in the most bizarre ways- including giant squids, sea dragons, reptilian monsters, multi-armed beasts, and sea serpents, etc.

Even the maps in the early days used to contain instructions that told the seafarers to avoid certain routes just because there was a chance of coming across a sea monster there, e.g. there would mark messages on unexplored areas saying, “here there be dragons”.

Various cultures from around the world make references to the sea-serpent. It has been described as a fearsome and repulsive creature by some while others have given slightly different descriptions of it. The sea-serpent has been mentioned in the myths of Greece, Mesopotamia, and the Hebrews.

The source of the sea-serpents can be traced back to the Scandinavian myths and tales, at least in Europe. They are rumored to be swimming just under the surface of the water slowly coiling themselves around ships and boats ready to pull an unsuspecting victim to his death.

Reported Sightings of Sea Monsters

People have been reporting the sightings of such sea monsters for more than centuries. Even today we get to hear of such tales every now and then. Though the descriptions of the various reports keep changing from one person to another, there is no denying of the fact that all of them bear some resemblance to one another. Quite a number of reports have claimed the presence of such sea serpents present in the high seas and also the coastal regions.

Below is a list of such sightings:

1) A Swedish priest of the 1500s described in detail such monsters in his Carta Magna which was an Olaus Magnus publication. This just one of the various Scandinavian folklore that documents such monsters of the high seas and the oceans.

2) In 1639 the first American sea-serpent was sighted by John Josselyn off the coast of New England near Cape Ann, Massachusetts.  This came to be later known as “Gloucester’s Sea Serpent“. John captured this incident in his book An Account of Two Voyages to New England: made during the years 1638, 1663. In his words, the snake “lay quailed up like a cable upon the rock at Cape Ann.” Within just three years there was a similar reporting of a snake 27 meters in length found near Lynn, Massachusetts.

Gloucester Sea Serpent

Gloucester Sea Serpent

3) The national saint of Greenland, Hans Egede described a sea-serpent in the 18th century. He reported seeing a terrible creature, nothing like he had ever seen before, just as the ship was passing the coast of Greenland. The day was 6th July 1734. Based on his descriptions, the monster had a small head and giant fins and it was longer than the ship!

Hans Egede Sea Serpent

Hans Egede Sea Serpent

4) In August 1848, an 18-meter long creature was seen while the crew of the Royal Navy’s HMS Daedalus was traveling to Saint Helena in the South Atlantic. The army officers claimed to have seen a snake-like head peeping out of the water. Some called this creature an elephant seal while others were of the opinion that it was some sort of giant squid.

HMS Daedalus Sea Serpent

HMS Daedalus With Sea Serpent

5) In the early 20th century the Cadborosaurus Willsi, also known as Caddy made it to the news headlines several times for frequenting the Cadboro Bay in British Columbia.

6) In the year 1977, the Japanese fishing trawler Zuiyō Maru caught the corpse of a basking shark which had such a peculiar form that it was mistaken to be the remains of a sea-serpent or prehistoric plesiosaur. Despite the fact that initially, scientists insisted that it was “not a fish, whale, or any other mammal” further examinations indicated that it was the carcass of a basking shark. The fact that a decomposing basking shark loses most of its lower head area and the dorsal and caudal fins first, makes it easy to be mistaken for a plesiosaur.

7) Nova Scotia, one of eastern Canada’s Maritime provinces on the Atlantic has witnessed such sea serpent sightings as many as 31 times. At least that is what Andrew Hebda, a zoologist for the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History claims. These reports have been a continuous affair for the past 140 years with the latest one coming from 2007.

Though most of the descriptions have varied with some having fins and small heads while others having a huge elephant-sized head, one thing remained quite constant. That is the height of the serpents. This is what leads to the consideration that there might be some truth to this sea monster tale.

Read more: The Mysteries Of The Bermuda Triangle

Possible Explanations

No matter how realistic the descriptions are and how convincing the reports sound there is always going to be this skepticism. The majority of the people are of the opinion that the people reporting the sightings of such sea-serpents had probably mistaken the identity of some creature. Hence, they have disregarded the existence of such creatures.

Scientists and explorers around the world have been trying to find the realities behind seeing these monsters. Some are of the opinion that the people reporting the sightings might have seen whales and seals that for some reason had been displaced from their natural habitat.

Large-sized eels, whales, sharks, and squids have often fooled people into thinking that they are seeing some sort of sea monster. All the reports of the sea monsters have one thing in common, that is all of them had fins that they used as propellants. This leads people to strongly believe that the ones reporting the sighting had probably seen whales or sharks due to the reason that these sea creatures have large fins too.

It is worth noting the human tendency to exaggerate a tale just to make it sound more interesting and a journey more adventurous. So, it is totally possible that some of them have taken artistic liberty and inspirations from various arts depicting such creatures. Drawing inspiration from a common source is probably the reason why there are similarities in their descriptions.

A 18-foot-long (5.5 meters) oarfish was found off a beach in Southern California on Oct. 13, 2013. It is held by the staff of the Catalina Island Marine Institute. Credit: Catalina Island Marine Institute

A 18-foot-long (5.5 meters) oarfish was found off a beach in Southern California on Oct. 13, 2013. It is held by the staff of the Catalina Island Marine Institute.
Credit: Catalina Island Marine Institute

In recent years, many have suggested that the witnesses might have seen oarfish which actually does bear a certain resemblance to their descriptions. In 1860 a 16 ft oarfish was found on the Bermuda beach. It was originally described as a sea-serpent. Despite the fact that they are harmless creatures their intimidating length must have compelled the witnesses to jump to the conclusion that they were sea monsters.

Also read: The Unsolved Mystery Of Devil’s Sea [Dragon’s Triangle]

It is true that we cannot fully come to a conclusion regarding the existence of the sea-serpents. But there is no denying the fact that the deep waters possess many secrets and there is more to those that meet the human eye.

It is intriguing and at the same time scary to think that there actually might be some sea monsters out there lurking around to devour its victims. But at the same time, it is interesting to think that there actually might be some undiscovered species waiting to be discovered.

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