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 detection even harder.

The same year, another mysterious sea creature washed up on a remote Indonesian beach was identified to be the rotting carcass of a baleen whale [ref] [/ref].

It is easy to see in the past, how a deep sea creature washed up on the shore in a state of decomposition could fuel the notion that monsters dwelt out in the ocean. At least these days, there is a great push to have the creature correctly identified.

There’s even a disgusting term for an unidentified organic mass washed up on a shore, a globster [ref]


One of the most famous was the Stronsay Beast. In 1808 a strange creature was found washed up on the rocks of the Scottish Island of Stronsay. It was claimed to be a sea monster with a long neck, and six pairs of legs.

To verify the truthfulness of the stories, witnesses had to swear an oath to a magistrate [ref] [/ref].

The Stronsay Beast sketch

Sketch of the Stronsay Beast by Sir Alexander Gibson 1808


The creature was measured and was reported to be over 15 meters in length. While anatomists at the time concluded that it was a basking shark that had washed up, it would have been one of the larger basking sharks ever recorded.

A specimen of the Stronsay Beast’s verterbrea is still kept by the National Museum of Scotland [ref] [/ref].

With the Stronsay beast there was a desire by scientists of the day to try and identify the actual origin of the strange rotting sea creature, but in a time before the scientific method was routinely practiced, it would be far easier to accept reports of an unidentified rotting creature washed up as a monster from the deep.

But even in modern times, many people still secretly hope that a mysterious creature washed up on a beach cannot be explained away as something else, and is in fact a new specimen revealed by the deep ocean.

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