Sunday, July 30, 2017


The oceans are vast and mysterious places. In some ways, we know more about outer space than we do the ocean depths.

Sailors have been spinning tales of amazing and terrifying sea monsters since ancient times. As outlandish as these stories are, the idea behind them, the events that spawned them, were likely inspired by real creatures.

In December, 2016, scientists discovered the strangest creature washed ashore on Mexico's Laguna Ojo de Liebre that they had ever seen. The creature was approximately seven feet long, dark gray in color, had fins on each side, and had two tails. It also appeared to have four eyes. Definitely a sea monster of some type? In reality, it turned out to be a pair of extremely rare newborn conjoined gray whale twins. Since newborn gray whales are about twelve feet long, scientists speculated that the pair was likely the result of a miscarriage.

In the summer of 2008, an unidentified dead animal washed up on the shore at Montauk, New York. Although several people reported seeing it and photographs surfaced, the carcass disappeared before police were able to recover the remains. Newspapers ran the story along with a grotesque image. Locals speculated that it could be a mutant resulting from experiments at nearby Plum Island Animal Disease Center. Others suggested that it was nothing more than a hoax. Many scientists who studied the photographs think it was a known species heavily damaged and decomposed as a result of time spent in the water. Several people claimed it was some type of sea turtle without its shell. The raccoon claim seems to be the closest, but the Montauk Monster's legs are longer than a normal raccoon leaving us without a definitive conclusion.

Oarfish are large, greatly elongated fish that are found in all temperate to tropical oceans yet rarely seen. The giant oarfish is the longest bony fish alive (not longest fish, cartilage fish such as the whale shark are longer), growing up to 36 ft. in length.

The common name oarfish is thought to be in reference either to their highly compressed and elongated bodies or to the now discredited belief that the fish row themselves through the water with their pelvic fins. The occasional beachings of oarfish after storms and their habit of lingering at the surface when sick or dying make oarfish a probable source of many sea serpent tales.

The giant squid remains largely a mystery to scientists despite being the biggest invertebrate on Earth. The largest of these elusive creatures ever found measured 59 feet in length and weighed nearly a ton. Giant squid, along with their cousin, the colossal squid, have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom, measuring some 10 inches in diameter. These massive eyes allow them to see objects in the lightless depths where most other animals would see nothing.

Due to the inhospitable deep-sea habitat where they live, it has been a difficult task to study them. Almost everything scientists know about them is from carcasses that have washed up on beaches or been hauled in by fishermen. However, of late the opportunities for scientists studying these elusive creatures has started to turn. In 2004, researchers in Japan took the first images ever of a live giant squid. And in late 2006, scientists with Japan's National Science Museum caught and brought to the surface a live 24-foot female giant squid.


Jennifer Wilck said...

These kinds of things are so much fun--I love speculating about what really happened.

Kate Loveday said...

What an interesting blog! Apparently there are creatures in the depths that have never been seen by man. Fascinating to speculate what sort of monsters could be down there. Than ks for posting this Samantha.

K.K. Weil said...

What a cool and unique post. Thanks for sharing!

Samantha Gentry said...

Jennifer: When you look at the picture of the giant squid on the beach surrounded by all those people, you get a true concept of just how huge they are. It's easy to see how sailors of the past could have thought of them as sea serpents/monsters that attacked their boats.

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

Kate: It boggles the mind to think of what type of creatures are able to handle the horrendous pressure at the depth of tens of thousands of feet under water. And the weird creatures that create their own luminescence and look like they've been plugged into an electric outlet.

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

K.K.: When I saw the news story about the two-headed whale washed up on the beach in Mexico, it immediately grabbed my attention and added to my collection on weird ocean creatures.

Thanks for your comment.