A Study of Sea Serpents

Posted by: Nick Redfern on July 30th, 2013


“As long as men have been going down to the sea in ships, they have reported encounters with gigantic marine monsters that have been universally referred to as Sea-Serpents. Cryptozoologist Bruce Champagne estimates that there have been 1,200 or more sightings throughout the seven seas, which have been recorded in the annals of maritime history. The mysterious creatures have been seen from shore as well as ship, and many sightings have involved dozens or even hundreds of witnesses observing them, sometimes over the course of several hours. Witnesses have included people from all walks of life, from sailors to professional scientists. Sightings continue to this day, with recent reports coming in from California and the Pacific Northwest. Such encounters have been well-documented in newspapers, although many preceded the invention of photography.”

The quote above is the opening paragraph to a new article at the “Creature of the Month” section of New Page Books’ blog. Its title: The Sinuous Sea Serpent. The author: Oberon Zell Ravenheart. You can find the detailed and lengthy article right here…

Nick Redfern About Nick Redfern
Punk music fan, Tennents Super and Carlsberg Special Brew beer fan, horror film fan, chocolate fan, like to wear black clothes, like to stay up late. Work as a writer.

11 Responses to “A Study of Sea Serpents”

  1. springheeledjack responds:

    Well If I don’t post on this, then I’m a shame to my cause…

    If there’s one environment that could support large, hidden predators it’s the oceans and seas. That’s not even difficult to imagine. With the human population sitting only at the surface most of the time and usually in shipping lanes, there’s plenty of room out there for a dozen different kinds of huge critters to be trolling the oceans.

    Why aren’t they seen more often? There have been several theories put forth on that subject over the years: more mechanical and motorized forms of water travel, meaning that sea critters can hear them coming and would be capable of keeping their distance. What about submarines you ask? Subs can pick up objects with sonar, but they can’t always get visuals–or even try at depth.

    Most ships these days follow established shipping lanes, which are advantageous for shortest distance and so on. Once animals learn these patterns, it’s easy to avoid and they can stick to safer more private waters.

    We’re just really starting to use ROV’s at depths to search the oceans. Like last year, they finally got good footage of the giant squid at extreme depths. I think it’s only a matter of time before someone gets something really cool swimming in front of the lens…

    Cameras around oil rigs are another source. There have already been discoveries because they have the cameras on 24/7 to monitor the rigs which is great–it’s an object in place all of the time that fish and other marine life will get used to as being in their environment and may just swim right past.

    Of all of the cryptids in the world, sea serpents (whatever they ultimately turn out to be) have the highest probability of being real and proven in the next couple of decades. It’s just a waiting game.

  2. corrick responds:

    Absolute must reading for anyone interested in the subject. The author has definitely done serious due diligence and brings a much needed reality check to the topic.

  3. Raiderpithicusblaci responds:

    @Springheeledjack: You echo my very thoughts. As always, Sir, a positive and insightful post. Thank you very much.

  4. cryptokellie responds:

    Certainly an exhaustive article covering most every form and possible explanations of Sea Serpents down through history and well illustrated too. I guess, as most posters here would agree, that the seas and oceans have yet to give up all their secrets and many new forms await discovery with a “Sea Serpent” being on the list of possibilities. Unfortunately, eyewitness sightings are…well, being kind, I guess you have start somewhere. My only real concern is that all the carcasses that have washed up all over the world always turn out to represent some form of known marine animal. If these creatures do exist..one should wash up somewhere – maybe it will. I keep the faith that with newer technologies it may be possible to discover – if accidentally – a species that would fit one of the descriptions. After all, scientists have finally caught up with living Giant Squids and other rare fauna that have never been seen at the surface or alive before.
    As I have been following the possibility of Sea Serpents for over 55 years now, I admit to being a little jaded but, hope springs eternal. Maybe this year on my yearly vacation Block Island, instead of the annual Leather Back Turtle carcass washing up, perhaps something more interesting will.

  5. springheeledjack responds:

    Raider–I’ve been reading and studying water cryptids since I was a kid…many, many moons ago–always fascinated me to no end and they still do. Good to hear from another like minded soul.

    It’s just a law of averages that makes me think ocean going sea serpents are plausible and probably real. I never bought into the drunken sailor/hallucination theories–drunk maybe, but most alcohol won’t bring on hallucinations…and there have been reports of sightings by entire crews–the chances of them all being drunk and hallucinating are about as slim as there being a big ole’ sea going critter.

    The lack of carcasses washing up is frustrating, but it depends on what kind of critter we’re talking about: it’s make up and physiology. There’s plenty of other sea critters that don’t wash up either, and if our particular monster tends to stick to the open ocean it may get recycled back into the ocean before it ever rolls into shallows.

  6. corrick responds:


    Your comments were just cut and pasted from a previous post by you with nothing to indicate you actually read Ravenheart’s fascinating article. Guess your mind is already closed. And your stuff on shipping lanes, sailboats and subs is just old 1980’s speculation that has long since been proven to be untrue.

    Just a tip, “critters” is a term one might expect from Jed Clampett, not from someone who wants to be taken seriously.

  7. springheeledjack responds:

    Been proved untrue by who? That’s just logical common sense. Go read a little more and actually do your homework.

    I do read the articles, but I choose what I decide to post and how to.

    As for critters–it’s a nice way of referring to USO’s that we don’t have the book closed on. Just because you choose to make judgments based on the descriptors tells me more about your narrow mind than it does my intelligence level…or my care as to whether you take me seriously or not.

  8. springheeledjack responds:

    And while we’re on the subject…the whole article was nothing but a regurgitation of other people’s work. There was no reason to dissect it–it’s already been hashed–probably here a hundred times if you flip through the archives. That’s why I chose to focus on ROV’s and the environment.

    All of those accounts you can find in a multitude of books–he does at least cite his work. The explanations were nothing new either and hardly proof positive of anything. The fact is, the ocean is big enough with a monstrous food chain and plenty of room for new and big critters that have yet to be catalogued. That’s why ROV’s are so important–it makes it much easier to spend lots of time in deep water, looking and watching to see what’s swimming around out there.

    Actually go look at the data outside of someone’s “fascinating article” and then talk to me.

  9. corrick responds:


    Sorry, but common sense is far too common and seldom ends up making sense. At least scientifically. The burden of proof is all on you. Science requires facts.

    Just for example, please offer any proof that any sea animal has learned to change it’s behavior because of modern motorized shipping lane patterns. Or that sailboats are far less common today than in the past? Or specific examples of a submarine’s radar detecting a possible sea serpent?

    Common sense is important when dealing with the rest of humanity, but not in science.

  10. springheeledjack responds:

    That’s the fallacy of the scoftic talking…you are wrong again. The burden of proof is not on me–and you certainly aren’t the final word on facts or science. And you conveniently side stepped my question: proved untrue by who? You made the claim it was all proven untrue, you back it up.

    I’ve gone through reports and have read practically everything on sea serpents, and I’m convinced there’s enough evidence to support large, as yet undiscovered critters roaming the oceans. That is common sense: in a body of water covering at least 70% of the earth without boundaries on space or food, there’s bound to be plenty of things we don’t know about–and big critters. New species are found every day. 2010 was the first time a ray measuring 10ft in diameter was caught–and in a river no less. That hid without proof for a long time.

    As to the shipping lanes, I seriously doubt any studies have been done on that particular issue, but take the time to look around you and figure it out. Animals adapt to their environments all of the time: they make changes in their patterns and behavior because of food supply and survival.

    Prime personal example. My family and I went to a resort this summer and while at an outdoor restaurant we saw signs all over: don’t feed the wildlife. While we were sitting, a bird dive bombed a table near us and stole a french fry off of some lady’s plate. The birds have learned that people will feed them and that they can get food more readily that way, than scavenging for their natural diet.

    You can’t tell me you’re so naïve as to think that animals in the water are any different. Animals react to stimuli, and they alter their lifestyles to best suit their needs for food and survival.

    As for submarines, I seriously doubt military subs are looking for any anomalous bodies that don’t fit the parameters of other subs and ships. That’s not what they’re in the water for.

    The point is, those theories popped up in the first place to explain a reduction in sightings of sea serpents in recent years–they were never used as an explanation of sightings in the first place. IF you read the history of sea serpents and sightings, you’d know that while there are hundreds of reports, they span decades and centuries, which means we’re looking at accounts that don’t happen on a daily basis anyway.

    And to common sense? If that doesn’t have a place in science, you need to go look up the definition again. Common sense doesn’t prove science, but it’s the moderator. From the facts you know what is possible, and common sense backs that up: you can try out new theories, put them to the test, but if everything is pointing toward an end, common sense is going to lead you to test that theory to its conclusion first, and then go down other paths if that doesn’t pan out.

    I’m not saying I know what’s out there in the ocean, and what form it takes, but I am saying that statistically, the oceans are the best environments for there being cryptid critters. And I certainly don’t believe that sailors, ship captains and the like were all a bunch of booze guzzling, hallucinating liars. You actually go read more reports than what are in the article–it’s a fact that sea captains took crap for reporting strange things, even “back in the day” and for one of them to make an official report on something like a sea monster took some courage and confidence in what they actually saw.

    I also refuse to believe that sailors and captains were naïve about the waters they spent a good share of their lives on without knowing the usual animals. That’s another scoftic easy-out. A man spends 10+ years of his life on the sea (and for a lot of them it was probably more like 20-40), and you’re seriously, with a straight face, going to tell me he doesn’t know a whale, a shark, a seal in the waters? Wrong.

    Talk to anyone who spends a decent amount of time in the woods, and they can tell you the source of every sound they hear: birds, deer, etc. Or the types of tracks and animals they come across. Just because we usually get a two dimensional look at animals in the seas because we only see the top plane of what breaks the surface does not mean that people don’t learn what is common. AND they do take note when they come across something swimming that is different, or something out of their knowledge base.

    Look at any cryptid report–lake monsters are the easiest, not to mention the ones I’m most familiar with. People describe what they see and you can tell when they’ve encountered something outside their normal realm of knowledge: they describe the creature comparing it to other things: its back was gray, like an elephant, or it had a ridge like a lizard. That’s a sign of someone trying to get a handle on something that doesn’t fit with the normal animals they do know, and applying what they are familiar with to the sighting in an attempt to come up with some kind of identification.

    I’ll give you, it doesn’t prove what they saw–people do misconstrue things, sometimes. But it does prove they’ve seen something outside they’re frame of reference and when you have enough reports over time, you start to get an idea that there’s something else going on.

    Sea serpents are harder to pin down because there’s so much water, and the environments blend together over thousands of miles. Heuvelmans had the best encyclopedia of accounts, and I was as giddy as a cowpoke on a cattle ranch when that came out in English (Jed didn’t want to disappoint you–and personally, I prefer J.D.).

  11. corrick responds:

    Is your last name Tolstoy?
    I won’t write nearly so long but you do deserve a reply.

    Obviously there are a few large animals yet to be discovered in the world’s oceans. Most likely they are new species of beaked whales or maybe another shark like the megamouth. Maybe even a large unknown eel. And just maybe, just maybe, something else.

    However, it is NEVER up to skeptics to disprove extraordinary claims unless the claimant offers verfiable and reliable factual information to back them. You offer none except for some eyewitness accounts and your “common sense.”

    A few beaked whales, maybe a shark or whale left to find? Well, Duh. Something that resembles one of the sea creatures by Heuvelman? Facts please.

    I do appreciate your time in responding. Passion you don’t lack.

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