Water, including the more significant bodies like the seas or oceans, has all played a significant role in our mythology. We can trace the origins of mythical water creatures to these older stories.
Myths are out of this world and supernatural, and many are often reconstructions of even older tales that may or may not have originated from the land. There are even “Adam and Eve” tales as far back as five thousand years. The earliest civilizations created these to the countless myths told by minor and major faiths.
The necessity of water and sea life and our close relationship with it was often infused in stories and myths. Many cultures have periods where people were hunter-gatherers before the shift to organized agriculture. Many myths emerge from this pre-agricultural period, bringing into the stories animals like the Orca whale (killer whale) and the manatee.
Popular Mythical Water Creatures
Loch Ness Monster
There is a gigantic sea creature among mythical water creatures known as Nessie that some people believe inhabits Loch Ness in Scotland. In any case, a great deal of the supposed proof for its existence has been rejected, and the creature is now largely believed to be a myth.
People have claimed to have seen the Loch Ness Monster lurking in its depths for centuries. The Pict’s stone engravings of a mysterious creature with flippers are notable. From 565 AD, there is a first-hand chronicle of St. Columba’s life. According to this work, Columba interfered and told the creature to “go back” after it bit a swimmer and was about to assault another person. It did as it was told, and over the years, there were just a few reports of sightings. These purported encounters appeared to be influenced by Scottish tradition, rich in tales of supernatural aquatic beings.
Roadwork along Loch Ness’ shore was finished in 1933, allowing cars a clear view of the lake. “A big beast rolling and falling on the surface” was reported by a local couple in the Inverness Courier on May 2, 1933.
Many media outlets in London sent correspondents to Scotland to cover the story of the Loch Ness Monster, which became an international sensation.
The public’s fascination with the beast rose rapidly after the 1933 report, notably after another couple claimed to have seen it crossing the shore road on land. In addition to the London Daily Mail, which dispatched a reporter to Scotland in search of the elusive beast, several other British publications also sent correspondents.
Many people arrived in Loch Ness, where they perched on boats or deckchairs, hoping to catch a glimpse of the legendary beast. It was determined that a stuffed hippopotamus made the footprints after plaster molds were sent to the British Natural History Museum. Hoax or no hoax, rumors of the Loch Ness Monster continued to circulate.
Ancient Aethiopia was ravaged by a whale-like sea monster called Cetus, sent by the sea deity Poseidon to wreak devastation on the land. This is a worthy addition to our mythical water creatures.
Before King Cepheus, in a state of panic, sought advice from an oracle about this awful predicament, Cetus tormented Aethiopia’s coastal seas. And Andromeda, Cepheus’s daughter, was chained to a sea cliff so Cetus might eat her. Cepheus was told to do so.
Perseus flew by at this same time. Having just killed Medusa, the serpent-haired monster, Perseus took her terrifying head on his trip. Those who looked at Medusa’s head were transformed into stone.
Perseus was smitten with Princess Andromeda the moment he laid eyes on her. As Cetus rose from the sea to attack, he flew down to save her. According to one version of the story, Perseus sacrificed Cetus to turn him into stone by exposing the head of Medusa to Cetus. When Perseus flies around the monster and repeatedly punctures Cetus with his sword, Cetus ultimately succumbs to his wounds.
Charybdis and Scylla
In the straits of Messina, there was a sea monster with a terrifying six heads called Scylla. This is a terrifying entry in our mythical water creatures. In the myth, Charybdis engulfed ships that had managed to escape Scylla’s fury. In the narrow waters he traversed in Odyssey, Greek mythology has it that Odysseus encountered two immortal and inescapable monsters, Scylla and Charybdis. Eventually, the Strait of Messina was found to be their resting place.
Snaky-necked Scylla had six heads, each with three rows of shark-like teeth, and her loins were girded with the heads of baying dogs.
She stood 12 feet tall. The ferocious creature from her underground lair devoured six of Odysseus’s friends. In Metamorphoses, she was described as having a human look at first but transforming into her terrifying form due to envy. Ruler Nisus of Megara’s daughter was frequently compared to the Scylla, who deceived her father for Minos.
Some marine creatures don’t appear to be frightening at all. For example, sirens are the mythological root of mermaids and are supposedly harmful because of this. The attractive features and singing voices of the Sirens would entice sailors to wreck their ships on the rocky coast of the Sirens, resulting in their deaths.
The Sirens were singing enchantresses who could entice passing sailors to their islands, where they would eventually lead them to their fate. When they were born, they were destined to perish if anyone survived their song, as the daughters of the river god the Achelous and the Muse. Their deaths were swiftly followed by their demise when Odysseus passed them by uninjured.
According to legend, the river deity Achelous and one of the three Muses (Terpsichore, Melpomene, or Calliope) were the parents of the Sirens. On the other hand, the renowned Greek tragedian Euripides said that the Sirens’ mother was Sterope.
Only two unnamed Sirens are mentioned in Homer’s epic poems, The Iliad and Odyssey. However, it’s common for later authors to discuss three, referring to them in various ways. Theixiope, Aglaope, and Parthenope appear to be the three most often occurring names.
Whatever the case may be, the Romans called these three small rocky islands Sirenum scopuli, and that’s where they dwelt. People reported the Sirens’ home was an eerie sight, with a massive pile of bones around them and the flesh of the dead victims still decaying away.
Homer says nothing about the appearance of the Sirens in the “Odyssey,” although the language suggests that he has in mind humanlike creatures, if not young maidens of beauty. Later on, poets and artists began representing the Sirens in a similar form to how the Harpies were depicted—that is, as creatures with a bird’s body and a female face.
Norse legend tells of the Kraken, a massive, octopus-like monster that terrorizes sailors entering its waters. The Kraken would encircle ships with their massive tentacles and drag them to the ocean floor, where it would eat them. Most maritime societies worldwide have myths and stories about sea monsters, and it’s easy to see why, given the ocean’s wide variety.
The Kraken, an aggressive cephalopod-like creature, is generally depicted as a threat to ships and sailors alike in Scandinavian folklore. In addition, there are numerous myths and legends around the world involving a tentacled creature that causes havoc among sailors or otherwise causes mischief in some way or another.
The Kraken was the most terrifying of all sea monsters and probably the most gigantic creature in our list of mythical water creatures. This massive, many-armed monster was said to be able to reach the main mast of a sailing ship.
To sink a ship, the Kraken would grab hold of the hull and pull it under. Then, the monster would either swallow the crew whole or drown them. The fascinating thing about the Kraken myths is that we have the best proof of this creature being based on something that existed at one point in the planet’s history.
Shipwrecked sailors in the 1300s were scared of the Kraken, a monstrous sea monster craving human flesh. This monster’s folklore was based on the sightings of gigantic squids, which we now know to be true.
Architeuthis is the scientific name for this species, which has been studied extensively. Despite its immense size (up to 18 meters), many mysteries remain about the giant squid. As a result of its enigmatic nature, Architeuthis has earned a position in both science and mythology and is one of the last of the great myths to endure to the present day.
Nine-headed snake, the Lernean Hydra, resided off the shore of Lerna. Hydras have two heads, and when one is removed, two more grow in its place. Hydra Lerneans also dwelt close to the underworld’s entrance, as well. During one of Hercules’ 12 tasks, he had to kill the Lernean Hydra.
Hercules enlisted the aid of his nephew in this endeavor. Hercules’ nephew used a burning fire to prevent a new head from growing in its place when Hercules cut off a head. Hercules buried the Lernean Hydra behind a big rock after cutting off all of its heads and applying a flame to each one.
Heracles was tasked with destroying the Lernean Hydra as one of his 12 labors. Heracles enlisted the help of Iolaus for this and other tasks. In addition, Iolaus was tasked with cauterizing all the physical wounds caused by Heracles as he worked to severe all the heads.
Heracles also ripped off the rest of the body and concealed it behind a large rock when just the last immortal head was left. In addition, he used the beast’s toxic blood (or venom) to taint his arrows, allowing him to deliver lethal blows. Deianeira accidentally killed him.
First, Hercules used fiery arrows to entice the coiled creature from its hiding place. Finally, Hercules was able to capture the hydra after it emerged. However, a foot-wrapped coil of the monster made it hard for Hercules to flee, and he was unable to escape. Even after smashing through one head of the hydra with his club, Hercules was met with two others bursting forth from the beast’s body. Even worse, Hercules’s foot was bitten by a giant crab that belonged to the hydra. Hercules called on Iolaus to help him quickly escape this predicament, most likely with a club strike.
Iolaus held a torch to the headless tendons of the neck whenever Hercules smashed one of the hydra’s heads. Finally, Hercules prevailed after the flames prevented the creature from growing more heads.
Hercules cut off the immortal head after removing and destroying the eight human heads. A large rock was thrown over the grave, making it even more difficult for anyone to find it. Finally, Hercules split up the hydra’s corpse and bathed his arrows in the venomous blood before killing the rest of the creature.