The ocean is still a vast and mysterious frontier. Over the centuries, the imaginations of men have run wild with tales of fantastic and, often, terrifying creatures that dominate the seas. From Biblical stories to sailors’ tales to real-life, camera-captured creatures, this is the list of the most famous fantastical sea monsters of all time.
Top 5 Mythical Sea Monsters
1. The Loch Ness Monster.
This long-necked creature captured in a grainy photograph is the well-known Loch Ness Monster. The legend has been mentioned as early as the 7th century A.D. in the book “The Life of St. Columba” of a monster that attacked a Pict, who was then rescued by the saint. The next documented report came centuries later by D. Mackenzie in 1871.
The creature next gained recognition in the 20th century when it was sighted in May 2, 1933 in the Scottish Highlands lake, Loch Ness. It was first reported by a water bailiff, Alex Campbell. Several accounts have been reported ever since, of an aquatic creature with a serpent-like head, that varies in size from 25 feet to 45 feet long. Photographic and video footages have emerged in the past century of a long-necked creature that resembles pre-historic marine dinosaurs.
Many scientists have since dismissed the Loch Ness monster as a hoax, but many believers still pursue the hope of a glimpse of this legendary monster, camping out in the lake at a chance of seeing it. The quest for convincing photographic or video evidence is still on, but unfortunately for Loch Ness enthusiasts, the monster is incredibly elusive.
2. The Kraken.
Deep beneath the Icelandic and Norwegian waters lie a creature so huge, it was known to capsize ships that sail through them. The Kraken is described to be a colossal squid that measures more than 60 feet long, whose tentacles drag ships down to the ocean depths and create massive whirlpools that bring even the mightiest warships to the seabed. Accounts of this mythological creature describe it to be as big as a floating island. If this creature was real, no ship would dare cruise through the Scandinavian waters, don’t you think?
3. The Hydra.
When Hercules angered Hera, Queen of the Gods, he was punished with the Twelve Labors. Killing the many-headed Hydra came with the package. This mythical creature calls Lake Lerna in the Argolid home, as it was also the entrance to the Underworld.
The Guardian of the Underworld, this monster was near-impossible to defeat. With poisonous venom in its arsenal, the Hydra can kill with its breath. Where one head is cut, two grow in its place. One of its heads was also supposed to be immortal.
Hercules eventually defeated the Hydra with the help of his nephew, Iolaus. They cauterized (burnt) each neck stump after decapitation, rendering it incapable of growing back. The immortal head was severed using Athena’s golden sword.
4. The Leviathan.
This Biblical creature, synonymous to any colossal marine creature, is described as the biggest and meanest creature of the sea. According to an Old Testament narrative, the Leviathan is a fleeing sea serpent.
There are many interpretations of the monster, from an enormous whale in Moby Dick to God’s plaything in the Book of Genesis, that it is not known whether the Leviathan is a malevolent or benevolent creature. One thing is for sure, though: it is one monster we are happy to exist only in human imagination.
Many little girls fantasize of transforming into a mermaid one day. What with the hugely popular Little Mermaid, the lore comes attached with romance and glamour, not to mention singing underwater creatures. Mermaid stories abound in numerous countries. One showed up in Assyrian literature, then was mentioned in Arabian Nights. Greek, British, Irish, Danish, and Polish literatures talk about mermaids and how they interact with human beings.
How could these beautiful sea creatures of myth be on this list? For starters, they lure men then drown them. Subtle, but no less terrible than the Leviathan or the Kraken. Mermaids are beautiful women with tails of fish. They live underwater but they like lying on rocks, mesmerizing me with their otherworldly voices. Some accounts have them morph into horrible-looking versions of mer-creatures, drowning men and feeding off of them. So, who wants to be a mermaid?
Top 5 Real-life Sea Monsters
1. The Handfish.
We know that all fish swim, right? Well, this fish walks! It has four limb-like appendages that it uses to grab on to the seabed or corals, giving the impression of walking. This friendly-looking (not!) fish can be found in Tasmania, Australia.
If you ever find yourself swimming in Tasmanian waters and see a fish walking towards you, looking like it’s ready to scold you, you know that you are in the presence of the handfish.
2. The Black Dragonfish.
This fish sure does live up to its name. if a dragon should ever cross-dress as a fish, it will surely look like this horror of a swimmer. This deep-ocean inhabitant is a wily predator, hunting its ill-fated prey using an infrared light that only it can see, like wearing night vision goggles when everyone swims around in pitch black.
The male of the species do not look as terrifying, and do not come with a complicated job description. It seems that they exist only to procreate with the virago females. They do not even have working stomachs, since these are not needed for sex with 15-inch dragon horrors.
3. The Sarcastic Fringehead.
The name is quite quirky for this surprising fish. Sarcastic fringehead, really? In reality, this fish looks like Walter Matthau in Grumpy Old Men. It then opens its old man jowls and springs you a Predator!
Sarcastic fringeheads are super territorial, fighting each other using their gaping jaws in what looks like parachutes making out.
4. The Northern Stargazer.
Hearing that name conjures an image of a romantic-looking fish that likes to look at the evening sky, or a fish festooned in bright colors and a headband. Wrong. That name belongs to a monstrosity that looks like mud that grew eyes and piranha teeth.
This creepy creature lurks under the ocean-floor, much like a flounder. That’s its feeding strategy. With eyes and mouth perched atop its head, it just buries itself under the mud and electrocutes anything tasty that chances to swim by.
5. The Giant Oarfish.
Also known as the King of Herrings, the giant oarfish is the longest bony fish in the world. The one pictured above is carried by a team of Navy SEALS, who no doubt had to battle it to get it in that position. It can grow up to 56 feet in length and may be the source of the sea serpent lore. It is exceptionally rare and most specimens are found dead, which is just the way we’d prefer to find it.