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Salty Sea Tales

The tumultuous waves and turquoise depths give off more than just a glinting surface and piscine sting.  Those brave enough to wade the shores and enter the wild waters beyond tell of legends…legends of the great seas.  Tales of beautiful women cast away on rocky islands with voices that can lure men to their eternal captivity, haunted treasure chests at the bottom of the sea, sunken cities thriving in a whirlwind of eerily glowing lights, ghostly crews sailing skeleton pirate ships, and terrible monsters rising through the waves in search of prey.

The sea legends of yore are enough to make this ex-Coast Guard girl and boatswain shake in her salt-covered boots.

Mermaids/Sirens

Vintage Mermaid Siren

Vintage Mermaid Iron-on No. 311. OVArtstore on Etsy

 

Commonly morphed into one sultry sea lady, sirens and mermaids are actually quite different.  In Greek mythology, sirens are depicted as bird-like women, hence the beautifully alluring song.  They were land-bound, on bird feet, but their lilting voices could be heard for miles across the ocean, luring sailors onto their island of lethargy and soul-sucking.  The muses of hell, some call them.  Mermaids, on the other hand, are fully aquatic, have fish scales, and usually fall desperately in love with deckhands and captains, shipwrecking them for all of eternity.  Did you know that the reputable sailor, Christopher Columbus, reported spying mermaids in the Caribbean in 1493?  He said they were, ah, far less attractive than depicted.

 

 

Sunken Treasure

 

Used as a euphemism for ‘dying at sea,’ Davy Jones’ locker is just one of many legends of treasure on the bottom of the ocean.  Unfortunately for all of us treasure obsessed, very little pirate treasure or lost gold has ever actually been found.  Davy Jones was likely just a pub owner over in ye olde England who was notorious for throwing drunken sailors into his ale locker and then casting the prisoners off onto passing ships.  Though it is mysterious how many a ship has sunk while searching for pirate gold…

 

 

Atlantis

Antique Atlantis Map

The Lost Continent of Atlantis Vintage Original Map. Lowajewel on Etsy.com

 

We have Plato to thank for introducing a sunken island in the middle of the Atlantic into our science fiction literature.  Although never finished, Critias spoke of a naval island that, along with its warriors, was swallowed up whole by floods and earthquakes.  Of course, it was rendered unsearchable due to impassable ridges of mud and silt.  The lost continent has gone through many revisions, from sunken Greek Parthenons in the Mediterranean to infested mermaid colonies to futuristic cities with electricity and whirring sea craft.  Some historians and conspiracy theorists even place it in the…

 

 

Bermuda Triangle

 

From the straits of Florida down to the Bahamas and east to the Azores, Devil’s Triangle is thought to be an area of mysterious pull.  Aircraft and ships that brave the triangle often disappear into thin air…or very deep water.   The legend originated with a pilot who purportedly said during his doomed flight over the triangle, “We are entering white water, nothing seems right. We don’t know where we are, the water is green, no white.”  Navy reports around the same time suggest the “planes flew off to Mars.”  Myth or not, an extraterrestrial force is so much more exciting than just plain hurricanes or those pesky methane hydrates.

 

 

Skeleton Ship

 

Made famous by a trilogy we all know and secretly love, the Flying Dutchman is a literary ghost ship.  Doomed to sail the sea for all of eternity, it can never return to port and emits a ghostly glow in the fog of night.  If you happen to see this ship or its skeleton crew while out on the salty seas, find yourself a lifeboat fast.  Mary Celeste, a real life ghost ship, was discovered in 1872 sailing the Atlantic, fully stocked with cargo and personal effects, with not a soul on board.  Only one lifeboat was missing and the crew was never found.  Funnily enough, their disappearance is associated with…wait for it…the Bermuda Triangle!

 

 

Sea Monsters

 

So many sea monsters, so little attention span.  We all know Nessie, but what about Chessie?  Reportedly terrorizing the Chesapeake Bay off the coast of Maryland, ole Chessie has the look and feel of Nessie and the same storyline.   You know the drill: snaking through the water, scaring swimmers, and general rabble-rousing.  Scarier to me, though, is that one relevant theory suggests that Chessie could be one of many South American anacondas who escaped from 18th and 19th century ships.  I’m not going anywhere near the Chesapeake with J. Lo.

 

Anchors aweigh!

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Comments

  1. There is no end to human credulity.

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