BACKGROUNDER: Web resources for a story in the news
Date: Jan. 17, 2007
By: Tara McClair
Story: The Daily News
When Wallace Cartwright was coming into a Cape Breton Island cove to haul the last of his lobster traps on a calm, sunny day in late June, he saw what he thought was a telephone pole floating on the water. But when the fisherman saw a head lift out of the water, he realized it was alive. The animal has been described by Cartwright and his friend as a giant black snake, around 40 feet long and two feet wide. According Andrew Hebda, zoologist at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, sea monster sightings are not uncommon in the province. Hebda says that there have been over 31 sightings of "sea monsters" in or off Nova Scotia over the last 140 years, from Pictou Harbour to Saint Margarets Bay.
Since men took to sea, stories of fearsome sea serpents and monsters have haunted those brave enough to venture beyond dry land. The Kraken, a huge many-tentacled beast, was said to attack sailors on the open ocean and drag them to their watery deaths. As fantastic as these monsters are, science has discovered a biological basis for some of these myths. This site provides scientific information about real-life sea monsters, for example the elusive giant squid Architeuthis. Biologists and zoologists discuss the mystery that surrounds sea monsters, and explain how using electron microscopes, and applied biochemical, molecular, and DNA analysis can help scientists to explore the marine mysteries. LiveScience.com explains the latest research on the planet, from human biology to the animal world and the forces of Nature.
This site tells the stories of sea monster reports that were later found to be false. On this page, Sea serpents are exposed as tree trunks and monsters are discovered to be pieces of floating seaweed. The site also provides information on real creatures that are often mistaken for their mythical counterparts. One example of this is the oarfish, a strange eel-like animal that has been measured at up to twenty-five feet in length. Oarfish have often been identified as monsters by those who haven never heard of the rare fish before. Giant squid are also featured on this site, along with diagrams that explain how this obscure creature could be easily mistaken for a sea monster. Unmuseum is a website that takes a scientific look at mysteries and myths across the world.
Site: The Skeptic’s Dictionary
The Loch Ness Monster—affectionately known as Nessie-- is one of the most famous sea monsters in the world, with sightings going back to the 6th century. This site is dedicated to all things Nessie, including the official legend, actual scientific facts, documented testimonials and alleged photographs of the mythical sea monster. Includes a link to a webcam viewing site, where you can view Nessie’s home in Scotland for yourself, and links to other sites featuring facts, stories and photos of the infamous Loch Ness Monster. The Skeptic's Dictionary provides definitions and essays on occult, paranormal, supernatural and pseudoscientific ideas and practices.
These photos aren’t for the faint of heart. Seriously, they’re really creepy, mainly because, well, they’re real. These photos were taken by Peter Betson, a deep sea photographer, and they show some of the strangest and scariest creatures that live in the deepest parts of the ocean.
Nova Scotia has always been an area of heavy sea monster activity. With over 31 sea serpent sightings in the past 140 years, areas such as Peggy’s Cove now have a sea serpent as their mascot and logo. This site tells stories from Nova Scotia’s waters and the creatures that live in them. The very strange—and very large—creatures described here might make you think twice before going to the beach for a swim. Also includes stories and photos of sea monster sighting from across the world, including the “giant tadpole” in Austrailia and the ancient plesiosaur in Japan. Clink on the title of the creature you’re interested in to go to a site with more information. Fact or fiction? You decide.