Archive for June, 2009

Giant Sea Creatures: Myths, Legends and Sightings

Because what lives beneath, remains a murky mystery to most humans, the existence of unknown giant sea creatures still pervades to this day. It is said that of all the species living under the sea, we only know of about a quarter of them- and most of those live above 500 feet. It is more than possible that giant sea creature sightings have indeed been genuine, though the human tendency to exaggerate or perceive things differently, of course can’t be discounted. Creatures we may have believed to be extinct may still roam the waters. Here are some of the most long-standing legends of the world’s most mysterious sea creatures that still live on today.

“Nessie” The Loch Ness Monster

Loch Ness

Legend

In the largest body of fresh water in Britain, legend has it that “Nessie” the Loch Ness Monster roams the 750 feet waters of Scotland’s Loch Ness. Descriptions of this mysterious creature have varied over time. Long and serpent-like, with humps and a long neck, Nessie travels underwater only revealing herself momentarily to chance onlookers, then submerges back into the deepest depths of this mythical body of water.

The first mention of the Loch Ness Monster came in the 7th century in Adamnan’s Life of St. Columba. According to the story, the beast fled in terror when Saint Columba made the sign of the cross and commanded it to go away. The pagan Picts praised God for the miracle. Also, carvings dating back 1,500 years ago made by ancient inhabitants of the Scottish Highlands, depicted an unidentified sea creature. Nessie is one of the best-known mysteries in cryptozoology and one of the most “seen” unseen creatures of all time.

Sightings

In 1934, the “Surgeon’s Photograph”, taken by Dr. Robert Kenneth Wilson, was considered evidence that the Loch Ness Monster really existed. It was the only photograph to reveal the monster’s head and neck whereas other photographs up to that point were of humps or other unclear disturbances lurking the deep waters. However, in 1994, the picture was reported as being a big hoax. The “creature” was nothing more than a toy submarine with a crafted head and neck attached. Whether or not there really is some enigmatic monster dwelling in the Loch Ness, the myth continues to attract the curious minds of tourists and scientists, awaiting their chance at a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster.

Kracken

Kracken

Legend

Dwelling off the coast of Norway and Iceland, the Kraken is depicted as a huge sea monster that demolishes boats, snapping men off the deck with its gigantic suction cup tentacles. Kraken legend likely originated from real giant squid sightings in the ocean. Apparently, the real danger for ships was the whirlpool effect (Skagarag) produced as the creature descended back into the ocean, the capacity to drag any size ship down with it. In Scandinavian languages, “kraken” means “unhealthy animal”, but in German, it simply means “octopus”.

Sightings

In 1680, a Kraken was caught in the cleft of a rock near the Norwegian shore, which was one of the first recorded sightings. During the later part of the scientific era, several kraken carcasses were beached within a short time of each other. In 2004, Japanese scientists attracted a giant squid with a baited line while automatic cameras took over 500 photographs of the giant squid. It eventually ripped itself free, leaving behind one of its 18-ft long tentacles. Further investigations in the Antarctic have actually suggested that there could be a specie of squid that grows much larger than even a giant squid. Referred to as the Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni the only proof that bigger does exist has been the large size of the juvenile Mesonychoteuthis hamiltonis they have found. The big adults must be somewhere out there. They have been given the name “colossal squid”.

Sea Serpent

Sea Serpent

Legend

In Norse mythology the sea serpent was said to be so long it encircled the entire world. The belief that huge creatures such as the sea serpent inhabited deep waters was common within the ancient world. In the Old Testament, God kills Leviathan (the serpent/dragon-like opponent), and feeds it to the Hebrews. The sea serpent was described as being 200 feet long and 20 feet wide. In Olaus Magnus’s 1555 work History of Northern Peoples he describes the sea-serpent as follows: “It has ell-long hair hanging from its neck, sharp black scales and flaming red eyes. It attacks vessels, grabs and swallows people, as it lifts itself up like a column from the water”.

Sightings

Sightings of sea serpents have taken place in various parts of Canada and the United States. There were many similarities in the descriptions. The basic description is that the creature was a long, serpent-like with small humps or protrusions running down its back. Also, the sea serpent was seen undulating up and down. This observation has often been dismissed, as a snake can only undulate left and right, due to the design of its spine. Moreover, only mammals swim with an undulating up and down vertical motion, not reptiles. One famous sighting took place in 1941 in Lake Payette, Idaho. More than 30 people witnessed a 35-50 ft sea serpent (Slimy Slim) with a head that resembled that of a snub nosed crocodile.

Ogopogo of Okanagan Lake

Ogopogo

Canada’s most famous water monster, this creature was known to the aboriginal populations as “N’ha-a-itk”, meaning “lake monster” or “lake demon”. The Amerindians accepted its existence as a fact of life, occasionally canoeing to a cave believed to be its home. The cave is under Squally Point near Rattlesnake Island which is offshore from Peachland. The Amerindians would leave food offerings.

Sightings

The first recorded sighting by a Mrs. John Allison in 1872. Another early instance tells of two horses swimming behind a boat that were mysteriously pulled beneath the waves and the owner barely saving himself by cutting the rope attached to the horses. The creature has been filmed a number of times though no absolute conclusions have yet been made. Witnesses say Ogopogo is dark blue, black or brown with a lighter underside and measures between 50-100 feet. There are reported sightings every year.

Frogs and More Frogs!

Ask just about any fisherman and they will tell you that the most exciting type of fishing is top water fishing. It is a thrill to see a big ol’ fish just bust through the waters surface. What is even more exhilarating is seeing a hawg of a bass explode through a matt of vegetation. What’s the best type of lure to use in this type of situation? Yup, you guessed it, FROGS! Plastic frogs can be thrown into the thickest of vegetation. Frogs are best thrown using a 7-7’9 foot heavy bait caster with 40-65lbs. of braided line. The weedless nature of the frog makes it a hassle free lure for any skill level.

The two most popular types of frogs are floating frogs and soft plastic frogs. Floating frogs are plastic frogs that do not sink. The Spro Bronzeye frog is an example of a floating frog. Their unsinkable nature makes them ideal for thick vegetation. They are easy to cast and simple to use. They can be retrieved in a number of ways, such as: stop and go, walk the dog, steady retrieve, or popping.

Soft plastic frogs are different then floating frogs because they sink. The Zoom Horney Toad for example has a kinking motion that when retrieved is activated causes commotion in the water and sinks when it is not reeled in. The best ways to retrieve a soft plastic frog is to: burn it, steady retrieve on the surface, steady retrieves on the surface and occasionally pausing (this pause will allow the bait to sink and fall right in front of the fish under the cover). Soft plastic frogs are best used in open water, lily pads, and sparse vegetation.

There are many different colours of frogs on the market. To simplify color selection, use natural colours like green, brown, white, or black. These four colours can be used in any water clarity and anywhere in the country. When the bite gets tough don’t be afraid to change things up! Try a colour you had no intention of ever using. Sometimes its decisions like this that can turn your day around and get you a limit.

If you have never used a frog lure in your life, then you are definitely missing out. The next time your at your local tackle store don’t shy away from the frog isle and pick yourself up some frogs. I promise that you will not be disappointed when that monster fish crashes the surface and inhales your lure.

‘Till next time: May your hook sets be Massive and your fish be Monsters!

-Peter Natev