Why did sea monsters appear and where did they go?
October 13, 2014
“REMEMBER SOME OF THE GOOFY REASONS they didn’t want to explore the new world?” Benjie asked his little group of friends that had come to sleep in a tent in his back yard. “They thought the earth was flat and that ships would just sail off of a watery cliff.”
“Yeah. They thought the earth was flat!” Tommy re-emphasized. “If you have ever been up high in a plane you can even see the curve of the earth, now in modern times.”
“Now, in MODERN TIMES. That is so funny!” Sammy guffawed. “We are living in a time that we call modern times, ha, ha. Modern times.”
“Oh be quiet, Sammy. But it is funny, ha ha. The reason I like best is that they were afraid their ships would be attacked by sea monsters or sea serpents.”
“That kind of came true—almost,” Benjie announced.
“Nah, that never happened.” Tommy was very sure of himself.
“I think maybe it did. Wait! I am going into the house and get a book to show you guys. It is really a neat book.” Benjie said as he lifted up the tent flap and scrambled toward the back door of the house.
As the flashlight beamed over the pages of the mysterious book, the boys gasped and squealed at the images within.
“Hold the flashlight still, Sammy! I want to read this part,” Tommy barked. “Wow. It says the first sea serpent witnessed in the new world was in 1639 in the water off Cape Ann. Someone made this engraving of it later, from the witness accounts.”
“What if you were a sea captain that ran into one of those?” Benjie asked his pals. “I wouldn’t want to be searching for a New World that had one of those in it!”
The boys kept reading and the reading material became juicier and jucier.
“Hey! Look at this old newspaper clipping. It is from the Salem Gazette, dated August 23, 1817. The witnesses were in Massachusetts,” Sammy said as he zoomed the flashlight in on the clipping and the boys moved their heads closer to the page and the article with the fantastic illustration of a sea serpent.”
“It looks almost like the sea serpent in the other engraving, too!”
“Shhhh! Let me read this!” Tommy commanded. “It was a giant snake-like creature, with a head the size of a horse. It was seen playing about in Gloucester—how do you say that? GLAU-CHESTER?”
“Who cares? Keep reading,” Sammy said as he repositioned the flashlight. “I hope the batteries don’t go out on this thing. It is getting dimmer.”
Tommy continued. “It says it was forty-five or fifty-five feet long. Its head came up eight feet out of the water and its sting was about four feet in length. What is its sting?”
“Well, that is creepy. From looking at this picture, I think they mean the sting is the end of the body, the tail. Look! It has a forked tongue!” Ralphie exclaimed while pointing out the tongue in the image. “And look at the people in the little boat. That is one big snakey-thing. It says here they tried to shoot it from the boat but that the ball would not penetrate its head. Did you guys read that? Its hide is so hard that bullets just bounced off of it!”
“And after the shots hit it, it dove under the water and came up on the other side of the boat. It says the serpent was as big around as a barrel and that there were sometimes two of them, playing in the water of the harbor. Closer inspection revealed that they were 150 feet long and they were seen by hundreds of respectable citizens including a justice of the peace. Many others came just to gawk at them. And scientists all over the world followed the story with interest,” Tommy continued.
“I have been reading ahead,” announced Benjie. “It says that when a common blacksnake was found on the beach, some of the citizens were convinced that one of the sea creatures had come ashore and laid eggs. One of them was seen coming halfway up on the bank once. When scientists examined the baby they realized that that was all it was—just a blacksnake.”
“What if that could happen? What if they could come ashore and lay eggs. That is something to think about!” Sammy had drifted off into a story of his own.
“It says the creatures played in Glouce—however you say it—Harbor from August sixth to August twenty-third and entertained hundreds of respectable firsthand witnesses who wrote up depositions,” Benjie added. “It goes on to say that modern scientists agree that the creatures could not have been actual snakes. Reptiles can not move in water in some of the contortions that these sea monsters were reported to move in.”
“They had to be something else, then,” Ralphie decided out loud. “They were not snakes but some creature that looks like snakes that we don’t know about yet…”
“In modern times?” Sammy asked. He was laughing so hard he collapsed and rolled off on his the side, taking the flashlight with him.”
“Yeah, in modern times!” Tommy exclaimed.
Nevertheless, all kinds of sea serpents were reported in he waters of the Eastern Seaboard and beyond for a couple of hundred years. In modern times, a sea serpent was reported to be trying to get into the tent of a back yard campout. Benjie, Tommy, Sammy and Ralphie have never been the same since.
Please click the book cover image to read more about Sara Marie Hogg and her books.