We’ve lately grown accustomed to sea monsters terrorising the high seas in flicks like Sharknado and Megalodon vs. Giant Octopus, so being desensitised to this is pretty natural. But a few hundred years ago, the word ‘Sea Monster’ would strike fear into the hearts of any sailor.
It seems like every pirate or sailor had a tale about something lurking in the watery abyss, something evil, something huge, and something that would drag you down to Davy Jones Locker. So what were these “fictional creatures?” And I say “fictional” because they found some evidence of big creatures in the sea, and the giant squid really does exist, however they seemed to exaggerate the depictions of them.
This creature is described as being a huge turtle-like animal, that makes itself look like an island to sailors. The name itself can be broken up to “aspis” meaning shield, and “chelone” meaning turtle, both derived from Greek.
The monster would appear its shell at the surface of the water, and would sometimes even look like there were forests, rocky terrain and sand dunes on it. Sailors would hit the “land” and then quickly be dragged down by the massive turtle to their doom.
The legend of Scylla is popular in ancient literature, with references to it in Homer’s The Odyssey and Ovid’s Metamorphosis. One thing’s for sure, this creature was hardcore, along with its partner in crime Charybdis – this was a huge whirlpool, and sailors trying to avoid it would venture too close to Scylla’s lair, and vice versa.
Scylla was a serpent like creature with long tentacles, four eyes, long necks and razor-sharp teeth to devour her prey.
Moving over to Norse mythology now, and Odin tossed a sea serpent into the oceans around Midgard. Eventually it became so long that it literally surrounded Midgard, and was able to put its own tail in its mouth.
The legend goes that if the serpent let go, the world would end. Thor and Jormungandr were enemies and had a number of battles.
A massive whale-like creature referenced several times in the Old Testament. There is generally a satanic connotation to this creature, and is also featured in Arabic and Christian literature.
Another account of the Leviathan in the Old Testament refers to the creature as being dragon-like, and with the Behemoth (a land-monster), will be given up to the righteous at the end of time.
This sea monster became popular in modern movies, but it wasn’t so popular a few hundred years back. The massive squid creature would destroy ships as they sailed passed, and drag down the sailors with it. It was one of the most feared in the historical times, and was probably caused by sightings of the giant quid.
It was said to dwell in the oceans surrounding Greenland and Norway, and has been depicted in many different ways since the 18th century.