Even though 50% of the world’s inhabitants live within 150 miles of a coast line and oceans cover around 71% of the Earth’s surface, the reality is that they remain largely unexplored and untouched. Popular opinion states that if we had explored the Earth as much as the ocean we may not even have discovered elephants yet, and they’re the largest land mammals alive!
There are reasons for why we like to look to the stars instead of the seas that surround us, and the mysteries of the universe are far more alluring and perhaps less terrifying than what lurks below in the deep. But every so often, a ‘monster’ washes up on our coastline or becomes caught in our fishing nets and we have no idea what it is. They leave us scratching our heads, and feeling a little more thankful that we’ve left these unchartered territories, well, uncharted.
So here are some strange creatures found in the oceans you can think about the next time you dip your toes into the water…
#10 – Montauk Monster
Dubbed the Montauk Monster because it washed ashore on a beach in Montauk, New York, this grotesque carcass was the source of much conjecture and controversy. While speculated as a raccoon, we’re not sure how anyone was able to look at this bizarre thing and conclude it wasn’t a demon hell hound sent here to bring about the apocalypse.
After it was reported to a local newspaper with a photo provided, searches for the carcass were fruitless and it appeared it had either decomposed or been scavenged by other wild animals. However, an anonymous resident was quoted saying,
“a guy took it and put it in the woods in his backyard”.
So a mysterious stranger turns up, takes the body of the animal and doesn’t tell anyone who he is or where the animal is? Perhaps there is a mad scientist in Montauk…
#9 – Chilean Blob
In July 2003, on the Pinuno beach in Chile, a huge mass of rotting grey tissue was found and baffled scientists as the discovery made international headlines. Was it the decaying mass of a whale, a giant jellyfish or a previously unknown species of octopus? Was it the remnants of a meal eaten by Cthulhu, the ancient deity that lives in the sunken underwater island of R’lyeh?
Scientists rushed to preserve the mass of tissue in a lab and, rather predictably when it comes to mysterious sea monsters, pickled it in a formaldehyde solution that happened to destroy the lab’s ability to properly test its DNA sequence. Luckily, in 2004, fragments of DNA were found in the blob that matched that of a sperm whale…mystery solved! Well, either that or Cthulhu has a taste for whale blubber.
#8 – Bermuda Blob
Continuing on the theme of strange blobs washed ashore and science not being entirely sure what they are, the Bermuda Blob was found in the Mangrove Bay. Teddy Tucker, a local diver and fisherman, came across the 8 foot long blob and described it as,
“..very white and fibrous, with five ‘arms or legs”.
Tucker, using his initiative, cut away pieces of the carcass to preserve them in the hopes that someone would be able to test it and figure out whatever the hell it was. Subsequent analysis led to the conclusion of the blob being whale blubber. However, no one can really say for certain and since this globule passed through the mystical Bermuda triangle, such an explanation seems too simple. After all, much stranger things have happened in that very area of the sea!
#7 – Trunko
In 1924, an epic sea battle raged between two killer whales and an unidentified 47ft ‘giant sea serpent’ that has now been named as Trunko. Eye witnesses described how Trunko reared 20 ft out of the water and battered the whales with what was assumed to be its tail. For over three hours the animals fought until Trunko was left floating lifelessly on the surface of the water. It sounds like the plot of a bad movie, right? But it really did happen and Trunko, whatever it was, remained beached on the shore for over ten days.
Scientists flocked to Margate, South Africa, to study this phenomenal creature of the deep and – what? What do you mean no one arrived to even take a sample of the carcass? There is an awesome sea battle, a ‘giant sea serpent’, and science still isn’t interested? Really?!
#6 – Stronsay Beast
For reasons unknown, Scotland seems to be quite a popular area for unidentifiable water beasts. The Loch Ness Monster is famous worldwide but the Stronsay Beast has garnered much less recognition; perhaps because there are no photos of this creature. The carcass measured a huge 55ft in length and as nobody had any clue as to what it was, the Natural History Society of Edinburgh labelled it as a new species of sea serpent.
Described as having three pairs of wings, a mane of bristles that glowed in the dark, and a stomach full of red contents that can only be assumed to be whatever it felt like preying on that day, the Stronsay Beast sounds much more terrifying than famous ‘Nessie’. It does make you wonder though what else is in those Scottish waters.
#5 – Zuiyo-maru carcass
Found off the coast of New Zealand by Japanese fishing trawler Zuiyo-maru, they pulled aboard a massive 1800kg rotting cadaver and were convinced they had found a new species of animal. Despite the potentially historical relevance of this discovery, the captain of the ship threw it overboard because apparently he was the only one who knew who Godzilla was – or he didn’t want to spoil the rest of their catch.
Luckily the crew managed to cut away some samples from New Nessie for researchers to investigate their find and answer whether this was a terrifying sea monster or simply an overgrown, well fed shark. As it turns out, it was most likely a basking shark despite some postulating it was the remains of an extinct plesiosaur. Whatever it was, it wasn’t Godzilla and that’s the most disappointing thing here.
#4 – St. Augustine Monster
This giant mass of flesh was originally discovered on St. Augustine beach, in Florida, by two boys cycling along the shoreline. Although the young discoverers suspected it was of the whale variety, they contacted a naturalist by the name of DeWitt Webb who identified it as a giant octopus. Those who lived close by came out to see the spectacle and had their own ideas as to what this sea monster could be, describing it as having arms and a head the size of a flour barrel that bore a resemblance to that of sea lion.
As the remains rotted away, a sample sent by Webb made its path to the Smithsonian Institute where it remained forgotten for nearly 80 years because giant sea monsters…meh. When it was finally tested, DNA analysis confirmed it was of whale origin, not giant octopus. Well done, Webb.
#3 – Tasmanian Sea Monster
Tasmania didn’t have enough weird animals found on their little island, and after the Tasmanian devil they discovered a monster living in the surrounding seas. In 1960, the sea monster was thought to belong to a new type of mammal. It was over 20ft long but had no recognizable bone structure, no eyes, no mouth but soft ‘tusks’, and was covered in little white hairs. The media latched on to the story and created a furore surrounding the possible new mammal, because Australia can never have enough petrifying creatures that can kill you.
I am personally not a scientist but to me, its description sounds pretty similar to some type of whale remains. Obvious guess, yes? Well apparently not, as it wasn’t until 21 years later that it was identified as a whale. No more scary animals for you, Australia!
#2 – Pukehina Predator
This is something of a much more recent find, on a beach in New Zealand in 2014. Named the Pukehina predator, the 9 metre long sea monster looks like vicious a pre-historic creature with a huge head and rows of sharp teeth. Found by a group of beach goers who just happened to be driving by, the carcass left them puzzled and wondering just what they were staring at. They posted pictures on social media and included a short video on Youtube asking for answers on the washed up sea monster.
Rather disappointingly it is not believed this is a new type of species we haven’t discovered yet. An expert in marine mammals, Anton van Helden, weighed in and concluded that what we’re all looking at is the remnants of a killer whale. Experts have been wrong before though, isn’t that right DeWitt Webb?
#1 – Loch Ness Monster
Last but not least and perhaps the most famous on this list is the Loch Ness monster. It was sighted as early as in the 7th century and its head and neck was captured on film by Robert Kenneth Wilson for the first time in 1934. This photograph would become iconic in Nessie’s story, confirming a myth that had existed in Scotland for over a thousand years, and was shown around the world. However, since 1994, most agree the photo was an elaborate hoax.
This hasn’t stopped the legend of the Scottish sea monster, as there have been many attempts to find Nessie through sonar, divers, echo sounding equipment, and by anyone with a camera and a pair of swimming shorts. Even Marshall, from How I Met Your Mother, travelled to Loch Ness to see if he could find her!