In honor of National Maritime Day, we’re busting out the amazing nautical legends that have inspired both vintage and modern tattoo art. First up…
For centuries sailors believed in these magical beings, most often known as sirens rather than mermaids. The legends surrounding them were of beautiful female creatures luring inexperienced sailors to their deaths under the waves, with an irresistible melody that they would sing or hum. The guise and powers of the siren change from culture to culture, but the idea of her existence is so old that there’s even a representation of her in Homer’s ancient Grecian epic “the Odyssey.”
Another sea creature feared since the times of ancient Greece and Rome is the kraken. This monstrous leviathan is considered to be a cephalopod, or a member of the same grouping of animals as the octopus, squid, and nautilus. With its many tentacles and enormous size, the monster was to believed to emerge from the depths of the ocean and drag whole ships into the murky deep never to be heard from again. It’s believed by many that the legend of the kraken was bolstered by rare viewings of the illusive colossal squid, which certainly would’ve scared somebody in a boat half to death. The first photographs of the colossal squid in its natural habitat weren’t taken until 2009.
The Sea Serpent
Much like the kraken, the serpents of old may have actually been inspired by a rare and potentially giant animal: the oar fish. The giant species of oarfish (regalecus glesne) can routinely measure over thirty five feet in length, and has a massive dorsal fin that spans the entire length of its body, making it the perfect candidate to inspire sea monster superstitions. The thing that sets the serpent apart from many other mythical creatures however, is that even today there are a large number of people around the world who claim to have seen one, and not just in oceans and temperate seas, but also in lakes and the occasional river. Canada’s Ogopogo, New York’s Champ, Argentina’s Nahuelito, Norway’s Selma, and Kenya’s Lukwata are just a few examples.