Phuket News: The Big List: Sea Monsters
THE BIG LIST: Sea serpents and other undersea giants are a staple of world mythology, and while scientists haven’t yet found anything resembling the Loch Ness Monster, what they have found has often been almost as weird. Here are a few true monster tales from the mighty deep.
Friday 28 June 2013, 02:48PM
Globster chowder: a vaguely serpentine carcass netted by a Japanese trawler off the coast of New Zealand in 1977 caused a worldwide sensation: some experts claimed it was evidence that prehistoric sea giants like the plesiosaur could still survived today in the deepest oceans. The carcass was immortalised on a Brazilian postage stamp before US researchers determined it was the rotting carcass of a basking shark, and the long “neck” was the remains of its spine. Large carcasses quickly rot and lose shape in the water – and so are known to researchers as “globsters.”
Prehistoric jaws: despite the romantic image of dragon-necked sea monsters, the most dangerous predator in earth’s ancient oceans would have looked rather familiar. The megalodon was a prototype of today’s apex ocean predator, the great white shark – except the 20-metre-long megalodon was three times the size. Computer research shows megalodon had the most powerful bite on earth – while the great white’s jaws has a force of more than 5,000 Newtons, megalodon chowed down on its whale prey with a force of more than 100,000 Newtons.
Father of turtles: sailors’ tales tell of the aspidochelone, a giant turtle that lured hapless mariners to land on its back, thinking it was an island; and a legend from Sumatra describes the “Father of all the Turtles,” possibly inspired by an especially large leatherback sea turtle, which grows up to two metres across. But larger turtles have been reported at sea in recent times, including a four-metre wide beast sighted by Scottish fishermen in 1959. Some zoologists speculate that the sightings may be of an unknown species of giant turtle, like the prehistoric archelon (pictured).
Biggest squid: Large cephalapods like squid and octopuses are probably responsible for countless sea monster sightings over the centuries – it’s reported that some species swim on the surface with their tentacles in the air, which could give the impression of a long-necked serpent. For more than a century, the likely culprit was the giant squid, which can grow to more than 12 metres in length. But recently a single specimen of an even larger species was caught at sea near New Zealand, which measured 14 metres from mantle top to tentacle tip – now known as the ‘colossal’ squid . Image: Citroen.
Bloop bloop: in 1997, a network of underwater microphones operated by US scientist detected a powerful ultra-low frequency sound in the southern Pacific Ocean. Researchers have nicknamed the event “Bloop” and some zoologist noted that the mysterious sound was likely to have come from some sort of animal, because it contained frequencies known to be used by marine beasts. Although the probable explanation is that the mysterious noise was caused by ‘ice-quakes’ in large icebergs, science fiction fans gleefully pointed out that the location of the sound matched the legendary undersea realm of the dread ‘Elder God’ Cthulhu, a creation of the pulp author H.P. Lovecraft.