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Down to the Depths

 

If I were to say the Kraken, The Flying Dutchman, the Sirens or mermaids you would be forgiven for mistaking this for a Pirates of the Caribbean article! However, history is full of various sea myths and monsters many of which are still popular today. This article sets out to explore exactly what these stories are, where they came from and why they are so scary!

 

The Kraken is arguably the most famous sea monster, this giant squid is said to inhabit the coasts of Norway and Greenland (so no need to worry!) and at 50 feet in length it is no surprise why this sea monster is so well known. Some stories even state that the Kraken can easily be mistaken for a small island! Legend has it that the Kraken doesn’t like to be disturbed and is known for attacking ships by causing giant whirlpools! Stories of the Kraken can be traced as far back as the early 13th Century and many historians believe that this myth originated from sightings of a giant squid. It is clear to see from the picture not only why this beast is so scary but why the myth of the Kraken is still popular today.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

 

Another famous sea myth is that of The Flying Dutchman; a legendary ghost ship that never makes port and is doomed to sail the seas forever. Other stories say that the ship houses all those who have died at sea and descends on lost ships to take them over! The Flying Dutchman is presumed to have originated from 17th Century folklore with actual sightings recorded in both the 18th and 19th Centuries.  However, there are those who suggest that the ship is simply an optical illusion, a mirage in the sea. But the popularity and spookiness of this legendary ship indicates that these people are in a minority and that there are still plenty of people who are extra cautious when sailing alone!

 

Tales of sea myths, creatures and monsters have no limits and are prevalent across the world. In Greek mythology the Sirens are said to be one of the most ferocious and beautiful creatures to haunt the sea. Legend has it that they are femme fatales, ranging from two to five in number, that use their enchanting music to attract sailors ashore, then they feast on their helpless prey. What makes the Sirens so dangerously scary is that they are impossible to resist and even though many sailors would have been warned, they simply couldn’t help themselves when they heard the Siren’s song. The appearance of the Sirens has caused much interest, they are said to be a mixture of women and birds. Whether you are scared by them or not, the next time you are approaching land and you hear beautiful music, cover your ears and run!

 

The final sea creature is perhaps is one that everyone will have heard of, mermaids. Stories of mermaids appear in many different cultures across the world from Europe to Asia with the first mermaid story appearing in Ancient Greek mythology in 1000 BC. Due to the many different cultural tales of mermaids their appearance varies but perhaps the most common is that they have the lower body of a fish and the upper body of a female human. Mermaids divide opinion as to whether they are good or bad, some folklore states that mermaids appear when events such as floods, shipwrecks or a drowning occurs and other stories suggest that they are good and beneficent. Regardless of this dispute, there can be no argument that mermaids are a classic sea creature and it is no surprise that many countries across the world have their own versions and stories of mermaids.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

 

Overall, it is fascinating that variations of sea myths, monsters and creatures appear all over the world and go back centuries. I have my own view as to why these are so popular and that is because the sea is unknown and there are many various creatures that inhabit the sea, many of which are unknown, so when people see these animals/creatures they let their imagination take over and allow themselves to think that they have actually seen The Flying Dutchman or the Sirens and while this may be unlikely, these stories and myths are fascinating and I for one, hope that they stay popular for years to come!