From the ancient pages of the Old Norse Edda to the interwar pages of American adventure magazines, the depths of our oceans have, in imagination, been host to unspeakable monsters for many hundreds of years. In modern times, the phrase “Here Be Dragons” has been absorbed into popular culture as titles for books, films, TV shows, bands and video games, all this despite the fact that it only ever appeared on the unknown seas of a single 16th Century Globe. Far more common were the giant sea monsters that adorned maps for hundreds of years, existing only as illustrations and in the minds of those that viewed them. In the summer of 1817, just off the coast of Massachusetts, however, these illustrations became flesh and blood for several weeks when witnesses of a Giant Sea Serpent numbered into the hundreds, in what the 19th Century Harvard Professor Jacob Bigelow called “the most interesting problem in the science of natural history.”

France, Robert L. (2021) Ethnozoology of Egede’s “Most Dreadful Monster,” The Foundational Sea Serpent. Society of Ethnobiology, Boston, MA, USA.

Egede, Hans (1818) A Description of Greenland. T & J Allman, London, UK.

Paxton, C. G. M. & Knatterud, E. (2005) Cetaceans, sex and sea serpents: an analysis of the Egede accounts of a “most dreadful monster” seen off the coast of Greenland in 1734. Archives of Natural History, London, UK.

Nickell, Joe (2019) Gloucester Sea-Serpent Mystery: Solved after Two Centuries. Skeptical Enquirer, Vol. 43, No. 5.

Magnus, Olaus (1658) A compendious history of the Goths, Swedes, & Vandals, and other northern nations. J. Streater, London, UK.

Pontoppidan, Erik (1755) The Natural history of Norway. A. Linde, London, UK.

Linnæan Society of New England (1817) Report of a committee of the Linnæan society of New England, relative to a large marine animal, supposed to be a serpent, seen near Cape Ann, Massachusetts, in August 1817. Cummings & Hilliard, Boston, USA

Brown, Chandos Michael (1990) A Natural History of the Gloucester Sea Serpent: Knowledge, Power, and the Culture of Science in Antebellum America. American Quarterly

Vol. 42, No. 3 (Sep., 1990), pp. 402-436. The Johns Hopkins University Press, USA

The Long Island Star (1817) A Frightful Fish! The Long Island Star, 20 August, 1817, p.3. NY, USA.

Dublin Evening Mail (1842) The Missouri Leviathan. Monday 07 November, 1842, p.3. Dublin, ROI.

The Illustrated London News (1848) The Great Sea Serpent. The Illustrated London News, 28 October, 1848, p.8. London, UK.

If you enjoy the podcast, please consider leaving us a review over in itunes or your app of choice. It really helps us out. Cheers!

Shopping Basket