Man spends billions of pounds on equipment that will look deep into and explore space and on craft that will one day take them to far distant planets in our universe and beyond,
Yet we still know so little about our own planet.
We know about some of the animals and life on Earth and even some from the past although extinct through the study of fossils and preserved skeletons from the dinosaur age. The advancement in DNA studies and carbon dating testing have given us an insight into the development and evolvement of both man and other life forms.
Although most of the land surface area of our planet has been explored, there are still areas of forest; jungle; cave systems and other difficult to access areas which have not been fully explored. We may be able to travel to the Moon and Mars, Yet we still struggle to venture to the bottom of our seas, only aware of some of the life that exists at the depths we are able to descend to, or that which rarely gets washed up ashore or caught in the fishing nets of deep sea trawlers by accident.
With two thirds of our planet covered in water, and much of that at a depth we are unable to explore due to the intense pressure, there are bound to be life-forms that we have yet to see.
We already know that some of the Life we do know of, both those that are now extinct and those presently still in existence have far greater abilities than we possess for coping with these intense pressures and darkness of the deep. The extreme depths and pressures, and more importantly the lack of intrusion by man, have allowed previously unknown life-forms below the sea to develop that can appear alien and frightening to us.
There are Many stories from man's past, all from different countries yet with similarities that include references to 'Sea Monsters'. Reports of Octopus of a size that can attack a boat, or of prehistoric style animals such as the Loch Ness Monster.
Our largest, although once almost extinct due to man's incessant whaling, it shows us to what size aquatic life can grow. Land based Life is physically unable to grow to this size as the bone structures would no support the intense weight, but supported by the water and the need for large bodies with thick layers of Blubber to protect from the intense cold and to protect vital organs under extreme pressures of the deep.
The development over recent years of advanced remote control submarines (RV's) capable of reaching deeper than ever experienced before has also improved our exploration abilities and brought to light new life-forms, yet they are still unable to explore the entire sea floor. The intense pressure experienced by the deepest machines require very small viewing apertures as large panel of glass would crack, this and the lack of natural light make photography difficult.
Different aquatic species, whether Mammal, Fish or other life forms live at varying depths, like us, not all can survive the extreme pressure or temperatures found at the lowest parts. The Mariana Trench just off of Indonesia has the deepest point in the Ocean and at this depth of between 7 and 11 miles the pressure is over a thousand times greater than at sea level.
We rarely get chance to observe these life forms as they only rarely come to the surface, those that do tend to come up at night time, believed to be drawn or guided by the Moon's gravitation. Few get caught up in fishing nets, but that is a rare occurrence, most remain from our view and only get photographed by deep submersibles.
The difficulty in capturing these on film is there is no natural light and this is increased further by the intensity of falling matter, mostly the remnants of dead fish. This is another reason we do not often see these strange life forms, as when they die they fall to the oceans floors. The darkness and lack of natural light source as found on the surface reduce the colouring of many species to be almost translucent, they have developed alternative methods of creating colour, a neon like lightshow, sometimes very animated too.
Some are very colourful and very graceful.
Some are just weird and ugly.
Some are gigantic.
Some are nightmare material.
Some are just DEADLY!
LINDSAY SELBY: The Norfolk sea serpent?
A sea serpent reported to be up to 60ft in length and very fast moving has been sighted at least four times off the coast of Norfolk. The descriptions evoke classic sea-serpent characteristics of small head, long slim body and diamond-shaped frill along the back.
The earliest written report appeared in The Gentleman's Magazine in their December 1750 issue:
"The creature was about five feet long from what could be viewed of it above the water, with a head like a dog and a beard like a lion. The skin was spotted like that of a leopard. It passed in a leisurely fashion, finally disappearing beneath the waves to the great amazement of all those watching from the shore..."
In the mid-1800s there were more accounts of "a creature with a head such as a serpent might have with humps behind."
There is a well documented account about the reported sighting by the daughter of Sir Henry Rider Haggard, the author, who owned Kessingland Grange in Norfolk. Rider Haggard was working on a novel at his home in Ditchingham, when he received the following letter from his daughter Lilias, dated 20th July 1912:
"We had a great excitement here this evening, and we are convinced we saw a sea serpent! I happened to look up when I was sitting on the lawn, and saw what looked like a thin, dark line with a blob at one end, shooting through the water at such a terrific speed it hardly seemed likely that anything alive could go at such a pace. It was some way out over the sandbank, and travelling parallel with the shore. I tore into the morning room and got the glasses and though it had at that moment nearly vanished in the distance we could make out it had a sort of head at one end and then a series of about 30 pointed blobs which dwindled in size as they neared the tail. As it went along it seemed to get more and more submerged and then vanished. You can't imagine the pace it was going. I suppose it was about 60 feet long."
Rider Haggard went to Kessingland Grange and his daughter’s story was confirmed by the cook and the gardener. Rider Haggard decided to write to the Eastern Daily Press to tell the story and seek further information. On Wednesday 24th July 1912 the paper duly printed the original letter from Lilias to her famous father, together with this note from Rider Haggard himself asking for some clarification or further information. However, none was forthcoming.
In August 1923 a survey ship, H. M. S. Kellett, was taking observations off the Norfolk coast when Captain F. E. B. Haselfoot and the navigator Lt Commander R. M. Southern observed something strange. Captain Haselfoot wrote:
"The time was about 9am. It was a summer day and the weather was calm and clear. I am not sure whether the sun was actually shining. I then observed rising out of the water about 200 yards from the ship, a long, serpentine neck, projecting from six or seven feet above the water. I observed this neck rising out of the water twice, and it remained up, in each case, for four or five seconds. Viewing with the naked eye only, I could not make out precisely what the head was like."
In July 1978 a holidaymaker walking on Kessingland beach was moved to write (although he asked to remain anonymous) to the East Anglian Magazine:
"The sea was quite calm when my attention was suddenly drawn to what I can only say looked like the head of a seal on a long neck sticking up out of the water. There seemed to be some humps behind the head, but the creature only remained visible for a matter of a few seconds before diving beneath the surface. I would be inclined to think that I had imagined everything if I had not read the story of the Kessingland Sea Serpent."
There appear to be no other recent sightings. However, in the 1978 sighting by the anonymous man, he does state he knew about the story, which means it could have influenced what he saw. The men on the ship, however, if they were seasoned sailors, would surely have recognised any known sea creature, yet did not recognise this one. It does sound like a ribbon fish, except ribbon fish do not swim like that and do not hold their heads out of the water. Another interesting story to ponder over.