We all know about the Kraken, giant squids, and the Loch Ness Monster, but what about the sea monsters of lesser fame? There is so much mystery and depth (literally) when it comes to the seas, that we're bound to be overlooking some mythical aquatic monsters.
From the waters of Japan to the lakes of the Scottish highlands, here are six lesser-known sea monsters that will probably keep me away from any boats for the next couple of days:
While there is some dispute about what they look like, yacuruna are rumored to be man-like creatures, but extremely hairy with deformed feet and backwards facing heads. They are said to roam the Amazon rainforest generally with a other cold-blooded creatures like serpents and crocodiles.
Some people consider the yacuruna to be a shapeshifting mythological god who can communicate with other sea-dwelling animals. While they are said to have the ability to heal people and bless people the same way a shaman would, they also have a dark side. Similar to mermaids, yacuruna are also dangerous spirits who use their powers of seduction to lure fishermen and young girls into their underwater cities where they eventually transform into a yacuruna.
Across Slavic nations, mythology and fairy tales tell stories of male water spirits named vodyanoy. He is said to look like a naked old man who has long hair, a greenish beard, a wide, frog-like face, webbed paws and looks like he is covered in black scales.
According to folklore, vodyanoy is not entirely good nor evil. He has very humanlike habits and is even said to aid fishermen with large hauls of fish, but he also destroyed dams and water mills when angered. He also has a tendency to drown people when they come into his territory and then takes the souls of the drowned and keeps them in porcelain cups until he he decides to liberate them, if at all.
In lakes and seas of the Scottish highlands lives a shape-shifting water spirit called an each-uisge. Often mistaken for a kelpie, the each-uisge can change its appearance from a horse, handsome man, to a huge bird.
As the most dangerous of the water-horses, they tend to find their victims by allowing them to ride them while in horse form. All may seem well while on land, but once the beast senses water its skin will become an adhesive and the each-uisage will bring its rider down to the deepest part of the body of water and drown them. Once their victims have perished, the other each-uisges will tear the body apart and eat everything save for the liver, which they allow to float to the surface.
Afanc is a demon creature from Welsh mythology that has plagued the Conwy valley with deadly and destructive floods. Although some might want to attribute these to nature, a lot of people think that it was from the wrath of Afanc.
Sometimes compared to the Loch Ness monster, Afanc was a gigantic, ugly beast who took the shape of a crocodile and giant reptilian beaver. At one point, the men of Conwy valley attempted to capture the beast by luring him to land with a beautiful young woman. Once the unsuspecting Afanc was sitting peacefully in her lap, he awoke and crushed the maiden before slithering back into the water.
The legendary eel-like monster of the freshwater lakes of Fiji, Solomon and Vanuatu Islands is called Abaia. Like many of the monsters on this list, Abaia isn't necessarily a killing machine, it has a keen eye for vengance and will exact it when it sees fit. Mythology says that Abaia treats all living creatures that live in his waters as children, and messing with them means messing with the big guy.
In one tale, a fisherman caught a large number of fish in his waters, that Abaia usually kept safe. The fisherman then went back to sell it to the townspeople and tell them of the wealth of fish that existed in this one location. Word spread that this area was abundant with fish and it quickly became a popular fishing spot, until one woman caught Abaia by mistake. After escaping her clutches and being enraged by the deaths of its "children," Abaia unleashed hell on the village and caused a rainstorm big enough to flood the lake and kill everyone in the town, save for one woman who didn't eat any of the fish.
6. Umibozu "The Sea Monk"
It might be commonplace to fear tumultuous, but in the yōkai-filled waters of Japan it was the calm seas that instilled a sense of fear in seafarers. The aquatic phantoms known as umibozu or "Sea Monks" only emerge when the water is tranquil. With giant black heads and two big eyes, the umibozu loom over 30 feet high. These monsters bring with them a feeling of terror and dread, and then creates waves and storms large enough to capsize or snap a ship in two.
Had you heard of any of these beasts from below before? If so, what kind of stories have you heard? Let me know in the comments section!