What animal is over 30 feet long, has a big head, enormous eyes, a mane like a lion, a long neck, a body like a snake and lots of arms like an octopus?

Sea monsters

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Sea monsters

Question: What animal is over 30 feet long, has a big head, enormous eyes, a mane like a lion, a long neck, a body like a snake and lots of arms like an octopus?

Answer: Nobody knows.

But sailors have been telling stories about giant creatures of the sea for hundreds of years. The monsters that sailors and fishermen describe are all slightly different but it's often an animal like a giant snake, at least 30 feet long, with an enormous head and neck. It sometimes actually attacks the ship. Some of these sea monsters turned out to be big pieces of seaweed or wood, but other stories are not so easy to explain. So what can these monsters be?

They could be sharks

There is an unusual type of shark that is shaped like an eel. It has a frill around its neck, which could look like a lion's mane. But the biggest one ever caught was only 25 feet long. Another type of shark, the 'basking shark', can grow to about 40 feet in length. In the 1970s a Japanese fishing boat caught an enormous dead 'monster' with a long neck. Scientists tested some small pieces of the animal and discovered that it was a basking shark. When these sharks die, parts of them rot very quickly, which gives them a very strange shape. But this doesn't explain stories about living, moving sea monsters.

They could be just very big snakes

The biggest snake in the world is the anaconda. One was found in the 1940s that measured 35 feet, but there are no photographs to prove it. South American Indians tell stories of even bigger ones. The problem with this theory is that the anaconda is native to South America and can't survive in cold water.

They could be giant squid

This is an interesting theory. Scientists all accept that giant squid really exists but we don't see them very often because they live in deep, cold water. They can be up to 50 feet in length and have the biggest eyes in the animal kingdom – over one foot in diameter. (There are reports of much bigger ones too.) They have a strong mouth like a bird's beak that can cut through steel cables, and five pairs of arms, or tentacles. One pair is longer and thinner than the others and is used to catch food. People have seen giant squid attacking whales for food. In the 1960s some Russian sailors reported watching a fight between a whale and a giant squid. Both animals died; the whale was found dead with the squid's arms wrapped around its neck, and the squid's head was found in the whale's stomach. There are also reports of giant squid attacking ships, maybe thinking that they were whales. So the giant sea snakes wrapped around ships could actually be one or two arms of a giant squid.

They could be giant octopuses

Giant octopuses also exist – there are varieties of octopus with bodies as much as 23 feet around. But there are also stories about an unknown variety that grows much, much bigger. An enormous animal was found dead and rotting on a beach in Florida in the 1890s. Parts of it seemed to be huge arms over 30 feet long. Scientists tested a small part of the body but couldn't agree whether it was a whale or an octopus. Like the giant squid, the giant octopus has a strong mouth like the giant squid but it has only eight arms. It lives at the bottom of the sea and uses its arms to move around over the rocks. This explains why we don't see giant octopuses very often.

Giant octopuses could be ancient sea animals that have survived from the time of the dinosaurs. We know that strange animals lived in the sea during pre-historic times, and many of them were very big indeed. They didn't look like fish and they had to come up to the surface of the water to breathe air. Perhaps, when the dinosaurs died out, these sea creatures survived and have lived in the oceans ever since. Is that possible?

Well, maybe it is. In 1938 a strange fish was caught in the Indian Ocean. Scientists eventually identified it as a coelacanth (pronounced 'seel-a-kanth'), which everyone thought had died out over 70 million years ago. And another type of coelacanth was found in the 1990s in South East Asia.

So, do any of these explanations convince you? Or do you think that deep down at the bottom of the sea, where we have never explored, there are strange creatures that are still completely unknown to science?

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I like this podcast about sea monsters and actually I think in the sea are a lot of creatures that live in the deepest part of the ocean and maybe are bigger or smaller that we think. Is reallly interesting this topic! I love it! Thank you for the recording

I learned a lot of interesting things about sea creatures and maritime mysteries. It is fascinating and remarkable topic. I always thought that stories like these are just myths and fables of seamens who wanted to joke or brag, but now i understood that there are so many unknowing and amazing things in our world

I've always wanted to say that it's an amazing experience for me to read some articles or to watch something here. On the one hand, it helps me to improve my English. On the other hand, I can discover something new. I read a great article about sea monsters. I really enjoy it!

My little brother and I like this article very much. He is really interested in some strange creatures. I have tried to interpret this article for him. He listened me attentively and after my story he said: "Wow, it is really cool! Do you have more stories like this? Teach me English! Is English difficult?" And many other questions. He is funny child:)
As for me, these explanations can convince people, but there are some flaws in these theories. To my mind, there are a lot of strange creatures and monsters on our planet. They are unknown to science and unbelievable to people.

In my opinion,It was really amusing and interesting story.I knew a lot of new information about maritime legends. Actually,It is quite hard to believe in the existence of sea monsters, but who knows, what kind of creatures hide in the depths of the sea.

To my mind, this kind of articles very interesting and cognitive. I like maritime stories because they have a lot of useful information. So I did this exercise with big pleasure!

I really liked to read this article. Stories about mysterious beings are very interesting for me.
I think that these beings aren't sharks,very big snakes,giant squid or giant octopuses. I believe that the frightening, huge monsters lives on a seabed. But their existence will always be the mystery for people. Because the sea has many secrets.

This text is very pleasant to me, so I learned a lot of new information about sea animals. And the team about sea monsters are very interesting to me.

These explanations convinced me, but in my opinion, the bottom of the sea has always been a mystery to the people and we will never say that sea monsters do not live there. Because the sea is huge unexplored world. And I believe that some being is in waters of the oceans or seas.

I enjoyed reading this article. To my mind, a mystical stories one of the most exciting story for reading. The sea monsters may be just a part of imagination of a seaman or another people who lives near the sea. Probably, the people who saw a destroyed ships can think that it was something unbelievable. Nevertheless, under the sea lives a really large and terrifying animals. In the culture, animals like that are very popular. We can see such monsters in the book like "Twenty thousand leagues under water" by Jules Verne or as the symbol of one of family in the book "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George Martin. In the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" we can see the Kraken destroying the ship.

I'm delighted to read this article, because I like some stories about misterious creatures. I would like explore this creature with scientists. It is breathtakingly discovering our planet.

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