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8 Famous Sea Monsters And Their Amazing Real Life Equivalents

By / 07.25.10

8. Sea Monk

What it was: An animal found off the coast of Denmark that apparently looked like Aquaman’s unholy cousin.

The Sea Messiah


Since this occurred in 1546 back when just about everything had to be Christian, the Sea Monk’s non-denominational, real life equivalence is either a misidentified squid…

Or one of several animals, including seals, angel sharks, or a little something called Jenny Haniver, which is a dry sting ray shaped to look like a devil.  If you put it back into the water, well… let’s just say it looks crazy enough on dry land that if you ever saw one floating toward you, we wouldn’t hold it against you if you blew the monster whistle.

Whatever it is… KILL IT!


Where it lurks: While the sea monk was discovered off Denmark, squid can be found throughout the planet.  Furthermore, they taste amazing if you’re in Italy, which might explain why Friar Sea Monk scared so many Hamlets in Denmark.  Had a sea monk washed up in Calabria, it’s more likely that people would have immediately rang the dinner bell instead of call the local exorcist.

Best-tasting monster ever.


Should you fear it?
Unless you’re allergic to iodine, hell no.  Mankind has spent tens of thousands of years fighting our way to the top of the food chain.  We don’t need to fear the squid any more.  (Well, the small-scale ones at least.)

The ocean’s evil-eye.


7. Charybdis

What it is: Part of the epic Scylla/Charybdis tag-team of monsters that Odysseus and his men encounter in the Odyssey.  She – yup, it’s a female – is described as possessing an enormous mouth that sucks in everything around her.  So basically, she’s your mother.

What DSL looked like in ancient Greece.


As for Charybdis the real-deal, “she” is actually an “it”, and “it” is probably a whirlpool.  Also, while whirlpools may seem quite common today, back in the day before dishwashers these babies were known as malestrom: one of the most mystifying phenomena of the ocean.

“We can’t kill it!!”


Where it lurks: Charybdis, along with Scylla was said to be found at the Strait of Messina, the famous “rock and a hard place” between Sicily and mainland Italy.  While there are no whirlpools there – now, at least – real life ones do exist.  Two of the strongest ones in the world can be found in Viking territory: Norway.

WHIRLPØØL!!!

Should you fear it?
Oh my, yes.  Whirlpools can and have killed people.  The ones in Norway reach speeds of almost 40 km an hour, so if you happen to get struck in one of them while swimming, well, unless you’re Odysseus, you’re fucked.  Fortunately, there is no evidence of whole ships getting sucked into whirlpools, which means the larger malestroms of our ancestors may just be a myth.  Nevertheless, it should be noted that one reason why no ships have even been sucked into them was because they had the sense to avoid them in the first place.  And if they didn’t, well… who they gonna tell?

Obviously, your mother.

6. Trunko

What it is: A giant fish reportedly spotted off Margate, South Africa on October 25, 1924.  According to London’s Daily Mail, it was locked in an epic struggle of Mortal Kombat with two killer whales using, get this… its fin.  One observer described it as putting up a fight like a “giant polar bear”, which you can take however you like.

Ivan Trunko

Zoologists are not too sold on this “giant polar bear” angle since that part of the story involved the fish washing ashore for 10 days with no samples, pictures, or notice take to as to whether its hair might have actually been baleen.  Because of this, Trunko was either a baleen whale – which should have been easily identifyable – or more likely, a entirely non-hairy basking shark, or whale shark, which are currently the largest fish we know of.

It’s basically if Charybdis screwed a submarine.

Where it lurks: South Africa lies smack dab where basking sharks can be found: their natural habitat are the temperate regions of the Northern and Southern hemispheres.  As for the whale shark, yeah, they can be found there as well, but it’s a little bit out of their way since they are tropical.

It’s basically your classic African/European Swallow argument, only starring sharks.

Should you fear it?
Probably not even if you’re a killer whale since it sounds like they kicked its ass.  Basking sharks are filter feeders, which means they get off on eating krill.  However, this does mean that you will occasionally find them swimming blindly with their mouths as wide open as possible.  So, should you find yourself in a scuba-suit between a basking shark and some krill, please get the hell out of there unless you want to end up like Jonah.

14
Worst vacation ever.

5. Procopius’s Sea Monster

What it is: A beast from the ancient world that supposedly harassed the ships of the Byzantine Empire “for half a century”.  It was famously mentioned by Herman Melville in Moby-Dick, who described it as reported by Procopius, “a most trustworthy and unexaggerating historian” who is considered the last major historian of the ancient world.

Believe him.  Dude had a halo.

While we may never know what exactly the monster was, Ishmael in Moby-Dick was convinced that it was a whale, “and I am strongly inclined to think a sperm whale.”

Still, he could be wrong.

Where it lurks:
According to Procopius and Melville, somewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Sea of Marmara most likely.  Such waters are not generally habitual to sperm whales, but Melville deduced from reports of sperm whale carcasses that the beasts could occasionally drift into the waters, and therefore become trapped.  Modern science has backed Melville up on this one, including the duration of the carnage.  One can only imagine how tormenting it must have been for the 60 ton animal to spend most of its 70-year life in freaking Greece.

Yeah, we would’ve been killing people too.

Should you fear it?
YES.

See all that blue?  That’s where sperm whales can be found.  Assuming that Ishmael was right about Procopius’s Sea Monster, there is no place in the high seas safe from this ancient demon, let alone Mocha Dick (the real-life Moby Dick).

And in case you’re curious: yes, sperm whales have killed people, and have even sunk entire ships.

This shit really happened.

However, this all assumes that Melville was able to correctly identify that he never saw from a “reliable” source’s testimony from almost 1,500 years ago.  Yeah, Melville knew a thing or two about whales, but assuming the man is wrong, that means we have sperm whales to fear and Procopius’s Sea Monster, which is all the more reason to stay the f-ck away from Greece.

Seriously, f-ck this place.

4. “The Living Fossil”

What it is: A name used to describe the unknown amount of organisms that we are likely to bump in to, but have been classified as extinct.  Since less than 5% of the ocean has been explored – we know more about space than the open deep – the odds of finding one skyrocket if you look in the ocean instead of dry land.  Notable living fossils have been the Coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae.

“Extinct” for 60 million years.

And Megachasma pelagios, the megamouth shark.

“Extinct” until 1976.

Also, coolest thing about living fossils… there’s a chance that nobody on the planet has seen it until you came around.

Where they lurk:

Everywhere we haven’t explored, and everywhere we did explore not well enough.  In short, most places.

Should you fear them?

Probably not.  Most living fossils like the Coelacanth and megamouth shark are whimps .  In fact, you should consider yourself lucky if you find a living fossil; they’re the aquatic equivalence of leprechauns, only nerdier.  Keep it alive in a cooler long enough and you just may get to name it after yourself, which would be awesome if you find, preserve, and truck home an even-larger, unknown version of megalodon.

The “You”.

3. Lusca

What it is: A Caribbean cousin of the Kraken.  However, unlike both the original and remade Clash of the Titans, Lusca is a giant octopus-like animal; not a giant sea-monkey version of King Kong.

…how has a thing for Virgins.

Real life giant octopi have been known to grow as large as 23 feet across, or… long enough to completely envelop you.

Also, they’re highly intelligent.

However, Lusca has been reported to be as long as 75-200 feet, depending on the size of the exaggeration.  As such, if Lusca even exists, it’s probably just an exaggerated colossal squid.  Nope, not a giant squid.  An even larger animal that can grow as long as 46 feet.

The colossal squid: nature’s douchebag.  Seriously.

Where it lurks: Lusca was primarily found in the Caribbean, but colossal squids can be found just about anywhere.  Furthermore, catching one is quite exciting since it leaves you with one hell of a trophy to mount on your wall.

Lusca goes into case, case goes into museum.

Should you fear it?

Not all all.  You don’t have to worry about a 200-foot long octopus killing you; the smaller ones can kill just fine.  As for the colossal squid, you have no more reason to fear it than its smaller cousin.  Just, you know, if you see one  minding its own business in the ocean, don’t fuck around with it.  That’s just a dick move.

2. The Giant Jellyfish

What it is: Even been afraid of encountering a giant jellyfish at the beach?  Well, bad news, they exist, and they’re even larger than you feared.  Meet the Portugese Man o’ War, which is technically not a jellyfish.  It is a colony of four separate organisms that lock together like freaking Voltron to form an enormous, godless mass with no brain, no heart, and poisonous tentacles that hang as low as 165 feet.  Oh, and as a means of propulsion, its “head” grew its own sail.

Imagine this, only organic.
So yeah, don’t fear jellyfish at the beach anymore.  This… thing is way more creepy.

Where it lurks: Tough to say, since they have been found in many places: the Indian Ocean, South Pacific, North Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and even the North and Mediterranean Seas.  In short, let’s just say you’ll never know where they’ll turn up next.
Should you fear it?
Jesus Christ, YES!  A sting from a Portuguese Man o’ War can result in anything from redness to cardiac arrest, and pose a major threat of drowning – especially if you happen to get entangled in its tentacles.  And don’t think it’ll sting you once and take off like a smartass yellow jacket.  Colonies of Men o’ War float around in the ocean like the aliens from Independence Day, waiting to strike whoever falls into their nets.

Like this, only with poison instead of lasers.

Also, just because the Portuguese Man o’ War is not a jellyfish does not mean that you don’t have to worry about actual giant jellyfish.  One capsized a 10-ton boat just a few months ago.

1. The Sea Serpent
What it is: The most commonly reported sea monster in history.  It is described as a large, snakelike organism, and could be either a giant oarfish, a whale, or some other zombie dinosaur we’re too afraid to think might still exist.  Nevertheless, odds are it is an oarfish.

The Sea Serpent, in all its awkwardness.

Where it lurks: Like stories of the Sea Serpent, the oarfish can been found just about anywhere in the world.
Should you fear it?
Remember the shrieking eels from The Princess Bride?

“They always grow louder when they’re about to feed on human flesh.” – Vizzini

Well, they’re real, only without the pointy teeth and flesh-eating.  Oarfish are pretty dumb and harmless, which is actually pretty cool because it makes them real life sea monster that you can catch without too much trouble.

Owned.

Killing it shouldn’t be too hard.  However, touching it without gloves may not be a good idea.  One unfortunate group of researchers in New Zealand described an oarfish they encountered as giving off “electrical shocks”, which was previously thought impossible.  So, just to be safe, stay away from these Sea Serpents because while they are likely not that dangerous, their powers are not fully understood.

Jesus Christ, aren’t there any friendly sea monsters in real life?


TOPICS#Animals
TAGSGiant SquidMonstersSea Monsters

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