Monsters of the Deep

Do the depths of our oceans hide undiscovered species of animal such as the great ‘sea serpent’ that was sighted by the captain and crew of HMS Daedalus near the island of St Helena in 1848?

Among the files at the National Archives and the Natural History Museum I found first-hand reports of similar creatures in records from the late 19th to the early 20th century, including one by Arthur Conan Doyle, author of The Lost World. Could it be that, as the museum’s former keeper of zoology, William Calman, told a puzzled witness in 1929: “…we are not so rash as to suppose that we yet know all of the inhabitants of the sea and it is within the bounds of possibility that you saw some animal that has never been captured or described”.

If so, where have they all gone?


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