Sea monsters. Not too far off the mark this engraving, from 1621, had the right idea of what was really lurking beneath the world’s oceans. ANMM Collection 00019658.
What is lurking in the water?
Living life as an adult means shedding many childhood ‘truths’. Christmas elves, Easter bunnies and the tooth fairy don’t stand up to hard questioning, so our belief in them falls away. We lose our concept of another world filled with wonder and mystery as every phenomenon is explained by science instead. But, for some reason, this logic does not apply to the things that scare us…
No, horror stories hang around so much longer. The terror of ghosts, creeping creatures of the night and otherworldly happenings can last into adulthood. Even if it’s just a shiver down your spine before logic returns to its guard post.
Orient Line passenger liner menu, 1953, ANMM Collection 00042590
The danger of sea travel and the mysteries of the ocean have produced some elaborate and fascinating mythology over the thousands of years humans have been at sea. At the whims of weather and water, the rough and adventurous lives of sailors and seafarers led to the creation of a wide variety of superstitions, omens and rituals. Gods had to be supplicated, mermaids avoided and traditional rites observed in order to maintain a safe and productive journey. Perhaps the most enduring of these rituals is the Crossing the Line Ceremony. Continue reading →