Sea serpent

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A sea serpent is a supposed sea creature of great size, often the subject of sailors' yarns, but which also swims accidentally into the fringes of science.[1] Reported from all seas, and sometimes backed up with photos of poor quality and bodies that wash up only to conveniently wash out again (or turn out to be merely basking sharks or whale blubber), the sea serpent is a myth that refuses to go away, and yet, with an ever-increasingly-explored ocean, refuses to come to the surface and be counted. In a way, it represents cryptozoology itself — it's outside science, yet claims scientific respectability, ever shifting in outline and focus, yet always enticing those dreamers whose approach to science is not "is it true?" but "what if?". With such valiant, grandiose defenders of its name to speak for it, the serpent, real or not (on balance, probably not) will never gain a place at the high table of science without some solid evidence. And a good thing, too — who'd want to sit down to dinner with a freaking great sea creature?

Other bodies of water[edit]

Lake monsters are similar to sea serpents, reported from the lacustrine regions of the world. Nessie and Mokele-mbembe are well known, as are the oddly-named Ogopogo of British Columbia, and Champ, who resides in Vermont, and is thus probably one o' them dirty liberals. There are many more, and they usually have whimsical names. Iceland has the lagarfljotsormur (or Lagarfljóts worm). Manipogo, anyone? Morag? Hapyxelor? What the hey is a hapyxelor?[2] Did somebody just pull letters out of a Scrabble bag?

Reports of river monsters are even rarer, and a few orders of magnitude less likely. The White River Monster of Arkansas is the least obscure, and was emphatically not Bill Clinton going for a skinny dip.

Real aquatic snakes and monsters[edit]

Snakes of subfamily Hydrophiinae actually live in water,[3] but are not by any means huge legendary sea monsters, although some have extremely toxic venom. As with many sea creatures, loss of habitat is a major concern.[4]

There are mysterious and gigantic sea creatures living in our oceans, but they are not snakes or serpents. The colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) is a huge creature with long sharp hooks on its tentacles which lives 1000-2000 metres under water near the Antarctic, and may grow more than 10 m long. Although parts were found in the 1920s, complete specimens were only found early in the 21st century.[5][6] There are also gaps in knowledge of another large, deep water-dwelling cephalopod, the giant squid (Architeuthis dux) with scientists uncertain of their maximum length. Although known for centuries from sailors' stories and dead specimens, they were not filmed in the wild until 2006 although, they had been filmed in the city as far back as 1985 guest starring on numerous episodes of The Golden Girls.[7]

"Sea monsters" of a sort existed in the past, in the form of prehistoric marine reptiles, particularly the plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and mosasaurs. Such animals became very large, with one specimen of Tylosaurus pembinensis measuring almost 43 feet in length. These reptiles, plesiosaurs and mosasaurs in particular, possessed many traits, such as long necks, fins, lizard-like skulls, and flippers, which are commonly associated with mythical sea serpents, and they were often depicted as resembling said creatures in early depictions made shortly after their discovery. While these creatures are often hypothesized by cryptozoologists to have survived into the modern day, providing an explanation for alleged "sightings", the fact is that these creatures are extinct, and have been since the K-T extinction event 65 million years ago.

It's also been suggested that our sailors might have simply misidentified whale penises.[8]

See also[edit]