A sea serpent is creature that inhabit the oceans, lakes, and rivers, with sightings from almost every large body of water all over the world. Most sightings can be explained as misidentifications of real animals such as whales, oarfish, or sharks, like the frilled shark.
Sea serpents have been reported for hundreds of years with sightings still being claimed today. Over 1,200 sightings have been identified by cryptozoologist Bruce Champagne. Other cryptozoologist have stated that sea serpents are relics of believed to be extinct marine reptiles like the plesiosaur and mosasaur.
Sea serpents are also found in mythology. Midgarosormr in Norse mythology was a serpent that encircled the entire world. Sailors who saw the serpent’s back, mistaking it for a chain of islands, according to some legends.
Sightings of sea serpents began to be documented in 1638 in New England.
Hans Egede, the national saint of Greenland described a creature as he sailed by the coast of Greenland in 1734. It was as high as the crow’s nest on the mainmast. It had a wrinkled short body with giant fins, and small head. The length of the creature was longer than his ship.
In 1817 a misidentification of a deformed snake by the New England Linnaean Society believing it was a juvenile sea serpent. It was witnessed by hundreds of residents of Gloucester Harbor and four whaling ship crews. It was named “Embargo” and sworn statements to the justice of the peace were published in 1818.
In 1848, during a voyage of the HMS Daedalus in the South Atlantic, a sighting of a 60 foot creature with its maned head sticking above the surface of the water. Explanations for the sighting included, an elephant seal, an upside down canoe, or possibly a giant squid.
Off the coast of Brazil in 1905, a sighting of a long-necked creature with a turtle’s head and large dorsal fin was viewed by the crew of the Valhalla. Again, explanations included a giant squid or other type of marine animal.
Off the coast of New Zealand in 1977, a strange creature was caught in the trawl of Japanese fishing vessel. It was initially identified as a prehistoric plesiosaur, but on further analysis, it was actually a carcass of a basking shark.
There is plenty of skepticism involving the existence of the sea serpent. Critics claim the sightings as misidentifications of known marine life. However, cryptozoologist do recognize some as being misidentifation or hoaxes, but many descriptions gathered from eye witnesses show no resemblance to known animals.
There are several classifications of sea serpents according to Bernard Heuvelmans, a writer, scientist, explorer, and known for being the father of cryptozoology.
Long-necked, has a long neck, hair and whiskers, world wide distribution.
Merhorse, 60 feet long, medium neck, large eyes and a horse-like head, world wide distribution.
Many-humped, 60 – 100 feet long, medium neck, long body and many humps, North Atlantic.
Super otter, 65 – 100 feet long, medium neck, long otter-shaped body, Norway and Greenland.
Many-finned, 60 – 70 feet long, short neck, and many dorsal-like spines or fins.
Super eels, thought to be sea serpent larvae, world wide distribution.
Marine saurian, 50 – 60 feet long, crocodile-like creature.
Image Caption: Drawing of a Sea Serpent. Credit: Olaus Magnus/Wikipedia (public domain)