6 Famous Sea Monsters That Have Captivated Imagination Throughout History

Famous Sea Monsters: The ocean has always captivated human curiosity. After all, the contents of the oceans that cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface are still a mystery to us today. Therefore, it makes sense that storytellers throughout history, from the oldest mythology to contemporary monster films, have filled those murky depths with a variety of enormous marine creatures who are prepared to wreak havoc on the surface world at the slightest provocation.

While some of these legendary sea monsters are as massive as creatures that truly live in the world’s waters, others are barely larger than that, they have all captivated people’s imaginations over the years. From the mists of prehistory to the silver screen of the last few decades, here are just a few of our favourite marine monsters. Which ones are some of your top picks?

6 Famous Sea Monsters

1. The Kraken Sea Monster and Giant Squids

The Kraken Sea Monster and Giant Squids

In 1180 CE, Sverre Sigurdsson, a Norwegian ruler, made the first recorded mention of the fearsome Kraken. Although the Kraken appears to have originated in the waters of Norway and Iceland, several stories about it have since surfaced in the narratives of sailors and pirates from around the world. It was characterized as a sea monster that resembled a crab and had arms or tentacles that could reach up to the topmasts of sailing ships. Because of its enormous body, people occasionally mistook it for an island.

This fabled sea monster attacked ships and either caused them to capsize, smash, or drag them into the depths of the ocean. During a voyage, sailors were taken off their ships and either devoured or left to drown.

The Kraken began to resemble an octopus or squid more and more over time. This sea monster is described as having eight arms in some accounts and ten in others. The squid’s two extra tentacles, which are appendages with suckers only at the end, may help to explain the difference. In actuality, both of these species have eight arms with suckers.

The stories are believed to have originated when Norwegians noticed pieces of deceased specimens of these enormous sea creatures washing up on their coasts. They were sometimes interpreted as coming from the devil or from God, respectively, and they may be good or negative.

When he penned his science fiction classic Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the marine, renowned author Jules Verne was unaware that the enormous squid he described was, in reality, a genuine marine monster! When Japanese scientists captured images of a living specimen of this sea monster in 2004, the existence of it was verified. After that, they succeeded in catching one and bringing it to the surface.

Since then, researchers have learned a lot of fascinating details about the enormous squid. This real sea monster drives itself forward by ejecting water that has been drawn in through a back funnel, much like a living jet engine. They have two tentacles and eight suckers on their arms. Their larger tentacles are for holding food in their beaks, which resemble those of parrots.

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The males are only slightly shorter at about thirty-two feet (over ten meters), but the females can reach monstrous sizes of over fifty feet (over fifteen meters). They can see in the dark depths of the ocean where they reside thanks to their eyes, which have a circumference of up to ten inches (25.4 cm). You can only image how terrifying this sea monster would be to sailors who are already very superstitious. And so the stories of these monsters, who grew in size as they spread, moved from coastal pubs to urban areas, crushing fragile wooden ships and eating on sailors!

2. The Sea Bishop

The Sea Bishop

A group of Catholic bishops were shown the sea bishop, also known as the bishop-fish, by the King of Poland when it was captured, as per sea monster myths and legends. The monster made the sign of the cross and then vanished back beneath the seas when the bishops released it.

There are fish that resemble men, such as the bishop-fish, which is a particular kind of fish that resembles a Catholic bishop. There are also fish that resemble monks, known as sea monks. Subsequent research led specialists to conclude that the sea monk was most likely an angelshark, another name for monkfish, a kind of shark.

The bishop-fish has been linked to the imagery of the half-human, half-fish sages known as Apkallu in ancient Mesopotamian mythology. It first appeared in the fourth volume of Conrad Gesner’s Historiae animalium, a “inventory of renaissance zoology,” as well as Johann Zahn’s Specula physico-mathematico-historica notabilium ac mirabilium sciendorum.

3. The Deadly Allure of Mermaids


Heinrich Heine’s poem Die Lorelei, written in German, begins thus. He reflects that he does not know why the old story keeps coming back to him. The story tells of a lovely girl on a rock in the Rheine River, combs her golden hair with a golden comb and entices sailors to crash their ships on the rocks with her seductive singing. Despite not having a fishtail or being depicted as dwelling in the ocean, Lorelei’s tale embodies the essence of a mermaid.

The narrative is reminiscent of Odysseus and the Sirens, as well as numerous folktales from many countries that describe mermaids enticing sailors to their demise. The mermaid is a sea monster in behavior even though she doesn’t look like a normal sea monster. Even in this century, mermaids—as a water spirit, a water nymph, a sea monster, or a malevolent water god—have captured our imaginations through folktales, plays, children’s novels, and Hollywood films. They have a human upper body and a fishy tail.

One well-known instance is from a 2012–2013 Animal Planet documentary, in which the makers asserted that they had discovered evidence of a real mermaid. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the USA felt compelled to release an official statement denying the existence of merfolk because it was so compelling.

Due to the popular belief in the existence of merpeople, primarily mermaids, several theories have been proposed to explain these visions. The most plausible explanation up to this point has been that a beachgoer who is inebriated or sober might easily mistake a manatee swimming in the waves or gasping for air as it emerges from the water for a human with fishtails. Manatees must surface for oxygen at least once every twenty minutes. But most of us just regard merfolk as a fun story.

4. The Sea Monster Scylla

Sea Monster Scylla

It wasn’t always a sea monster, the Scylla. She was a water nymph and the daughter of Greek mythology’s Porchys and Ceto, the ultimate sea monster. On his journey home to Ithaca, Odysseus, the mythical hero who, after 10 years of fighting in the Trojan War, used a cunning scheme using the Trojan horse, to spark the Greek victory, had to overcome this enormous beast. Homer illustrates the difficulty of selecting the lesser of two evils with the help of the sea monster Scylla and her equally wicked neighbor Charybdis.

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Later Roman authors of Greek myths, like Ovid, depict Scylla as a stunning woman who met a tragic end at the hands of the sea god Glaucus. Seeking a love potion to make Scylla fall in love with him, Glaucus went to the Greek sorceress Circe. Scylla was transformed into an ugly sea monster by Circe, a jealous woman who was also in love with Glaucus, as payback. Scylla’s story, like many Greek myths, has multiple variants. In some, Glaucus was a fisherman and Scylla’s parents were Titans. In other renditions, the envious rival is none other than Poseidon’s wife, the Greek sea deity.

5. The Flying Dutchman

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(Credit: The Guardian)

Legend has it that sailors on sailing ships were constantly on the lookout for sea monsters and were rather superstitious. In a charming way, the renowned Hunt-Lennox Globe (c. 1510 CE) labels uncharted waters with the phrase “… here be dragons.” However, they had to be extremely courageous to sail their flimsy boats over the wide open, uncharted seas, frequently for extended periods without seeing land. A small amount of rum may rapidly cloud judgment and vision, but it would also frequently give them courage during the lonely hours of the night.

The Flying Dutchman folklore tells the tale of a ghostship sailing through a violent storm. According to legend, a Dutch East India Company trade ship captain was sailing back to the country after a fruitful commercial expedition to India. As he rounded the Cape of Good Hope, a terrifying storm passed overhead. His crew urged him to head back to port and seek safety, but he was eager to return to Amsterdam and increase his income.

He cursed and vowed to see the expedition through, even if it meant waiting until the end of the world. After hearing what he had to say, the angel or devil vowed to either sail the seas forever or not attempt. The captain and his crew were destined to spend all of eternity sailing the oceans after the ship was lost in the storm. Like most legends, there are a few variations in the storyline between different tellings of the legend.

It was thought by sailors that seeing this ghostship would frequently signal an approaching calamity, hence sailors were terrified of seeing it until the previous century. When certain climatic conditions are met, ghostly reflections known as fata morgana, or mirages, can account for sightings.

6. The Leviathan

Sea Serpents

The leviathan is well-known to most people thanks to multiple biblical allusions. It was regarded as a monstrous and horrifying sea monster that resembled a snake and was a symbol of evil in earlier Middle Eastern mythology and oral Hebrew literature.

The biblical Apocryphal Book of Enoch states that the behemoth, a male sea monster, was allocated to the desert east of Eden, while the leviathan, a female sea monster, was confined to the oceans. The biblical Book of Psalms describes the leviathan as a multiheaded sea monster.

The beast was an angel working for the archangel Uriel in one telling of the Leviathan tale. Leviathan accompanied Satan when he rebelled and dared to defy authority in heaven, and as a result, they were both expelled from paradise. He transformed into a monstrous marine creature with a gaping mouth so big it could be a doorway to hell.

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