The gentle Oarfish – The real-life Inspiration for a thousand sea serpents

The Oarfish is a real life bony fish that lives in oceans around the world. Their long, elongated bodies can grow up to 17 meters long. Typically they dwell in the deep ocean at depths up to 1000 meters, but during storms they can be found near the surface or washed up on shore. [ref] [/ref] They swim with an undulating motion through the water and feed not on sailors but deep sea shrimp and planktonic crustaceans. Even in our modern era, we have little footage of the Oarfish in its natural habitat, though Oarfish have been found washed onshore [ref] [/ref] And though oarfish may only prove dangerous to tiny creatures in the deep ocean, their presence is thought to have inspired myths of great sea serpents a thousand times more fearsome than the actual creature. Reports of sea serpents occur again and again throughout the mythology of different cultures [ref] [/ref] Similarly as shipping expanded, so too did reports of sea serpents around the world, including nova scotia [ref] [/ref] and on passage from Australia [ref] Strange Creatures of the Sea, The courier-mail 15/08/1934,[/ref] Of course, sighting something in the water from off… Continue reading

The Deep Ocean Holds Many Mysteries

When some strange ocean creature becomes washed up on the shore, it seems always to whet people’s appetites for mystery. As Oceanographer, Paul Snelgrove said “We know more about the surface of the Moon and about Mars than we do about [the deep sea floor], despite the fact that we have yet to extract a gram of food, a breath of oxygen or a drop of water from those bodies.” The deep ocean is probably the one place left on our planet that is truly unexplored. Even in the modern era, there are reports about supposed unidentified creatures that wash up on the shore. For example, a “fanged, faceless sea creature” was found on a beach after Hurricane Harvey in 2017 [ref] [/ref]. Eel specialist Dr Kenneth Tighe, believed it was a fangtooth snake-eel. Other scientists believe it was a tusky eel or stippled spoon-nose eel[ref] [/ref]. All three eel species normally live at a depth of greater than 30 meters in the gulf waters, so it would be rare that any could be easily identified by a non-specialist. What’s more, anything washed up on shore is pretty much already in an advanced state of decay which makes… Continue reading

The Bishop Erik Pontopiddian collects eyewitness reports

The Natural History of Norway, is a comprehensive two-volume work published by the Bishop Erik Pontopiddian between 1751 and 1753. It is a study of the animal life and geography of Norway and contains many insights.  There are chapters on Norway’s soils and mountains, sea-vegetables, birds, fish and fisheries among many other topics. Pontopiddian states the care he has taken to assemble the volumes, and there is good reason, as he goes on to say “I foresee that when some readers come to read the contents of the eighth chapter, concerning the Mer-maid, the great Sea-snake, of several hundred feet long and the Krake[n], whose uncommon size seems to exceed belief, they may suspect me of too much credulity.” [ref] The natural history of Norway : containing a particular and accurate account of the temperature of the air,the different soils, waters, vegetables, metals, minerals, stones, beasts, birds, and fishes : together with the dispositions, customs, and manner of living of the inhabitants : interspersed with physiological notes from eminent writers, and transactions of academics : in two parts by Pontoppidan, Erich, 1698-1764; translated Berthelson, Andreas, b. ca. 1716; 1755  [/ref] Pontopiddian tries to be as scientific as possible, and goes… Continue reading