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Monsters of the Sea

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  205 ratings  ·  23 reviews
A fascinating exploration of sea monsters.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published November 1st 2006 by Lyons Press (first published 1994)
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4.02  · 
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 ·  205 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Sydney Squidney

"Monsters of the Sea" is for those with a great curiosity about the mysterious creatures that lurk beneath the surface of the sea that humans have sometimes been granted glimpses of.

For as long as we've been curious, our access to the oceans' mysteries have and still remain so limited that sea monster legends have endured to this day.

Sea monsters are often considered some of the earliest cryptids to inspire countless popular myths and recent discoveries of giant squids, such as the massive 25 fo
Mar 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
The research that goes into this book is incredible. Myths and rumors about sea monsters that go back centuries are explored in great detail and shown how over time, they were debunked. The author even includes drawings showing very believable reasoning for why a certain known animal was mistaken for some kind of sea monster. Up until the chapter on sharks, the book is a great resource on aquatic legend.

It's during the shark chapter, though, that it goes downhill. For one, there are no great my
Dec 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Very informative. It was kind of dry in sections, and there wasn't much in the way of psychological exploration like I thought there would be.... But it was still enjoyable. It could stand an update, since it's almost twenty years old now. Nothing earth-shattering, but a good way to entertain yourself when you've nothing else to read.
Sep 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ellis is a master archivist and his knack for finding early and obscure sources shows brilliantly in this book, as he traces the origins of sea monster legends and brings them up to the present with the actually biology of the animals in the myths.
Jul 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Dense! I wanted cool pictures of giant squid; this book is more like the extremely detailed history of everything weird that ever lived in the ocean. But I'm kind of smarter because of it. Maybe.
Apr 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was much different from any book of this genre I have ever read before. I didn't know what I would find when I opened it, would it be just another boring book about uninteresting fish? I was very much wrong, this book contains some of the most interesting material that I have absorbed in years. It takes you deep into the waters of Iceland to find the Kraken in all its mystery, to the shallow waters of the Bahamas to find the horrific and obscure Bermuda Blob.

Richard Ellis has spent hi
Aug 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This was a super fun read! It covered everything from the mythology of the Loch Ness Monster, mermaids and sea serpents to the origins of giant squid, whales, sharks, etc.

The research that went into this book must have been exhausting. The author references countless books or articles on each subject, as well as including paintings, drawings and more showing these animals as they have been depicted through the years.

This was a slow read for me because each page was packed with so much informatio
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A thoroughly enjoyable book. An exhaustive guide on the subject, this book provides a comprehensive overview of sea monsters, myths, legends, and unexplained sightings. The author writes in an informative, yet entertaining style. While explaining many of the "monsters", he does leave room for some open minded speculation. If you like offbeat historical subjects, cryptozoology, or just a great read on the mysteries of the deep, this book will not disappoint.
Rita Brinkerhoff
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: deep-sea nerds
This is dense but fabulous - Ellis tracks the origin stories of all the different sea monsters from the Kracken to sea serpents, and then goes into descriptions of crazy dudes like Vampyroteuthis (which David Attenborough calls THE VAMPIRE SQUID FROM HELL). I find details about light-up tentacles engrossing, so I love this biz.
Dec 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Octopus seem to be everywhere these days as people are discovering how amazingly awesome they are. This is the first book I read about 15 years ago that showed me how amazing cephalopods are. The Soul of an Octopus was disappointing and sad and overwrought...this book includes many other creatures other than octopus, but worth reading for the fascinating look at cephalopods it provides.
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I love nautical mysteries. This book has a varied, interesting selection of many different sea monsters. It detailed the legends and stories about them, as welll as historical facts and tidbits related to each monster.
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I put it simply like this, you read the title and the inside flap of the cover slip, and just skim through some of the fascinating pictures and you'll be hooked! Oh and the writing is not too shabby either. :)
Aug 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Ellis does a fantastic job of blending fact and folklore, bringing to life the monsters that have gripped the imaginations of men for centuries. Ellis' research is fairly exhaustive making this a dense read, but well worth it.
Jun 19, 2008 added it
A good reference to sea monsters.
Robert Kaufman
Oct 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wow, what a great book. An enormous amount of research went into it. Interesting subject matter.
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books on "monsters" I have ever read. Excellent resource for the skeptic and the believer.
Jun 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very fun and informative read. Richard Ellis is a fantastic author.
Jorge Ribas
Aug 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Great book detailing the world's monsters, separating myths and realities. A little plodding at times but very well researched.
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: natural-history
I had high hopes for this book but was sorely disappointed. It was all I could do to finish it. It was a lot of repetition. I am not sure how many times I was told sea serpents were basking shark remnants or basking sharks swimming at the surface (exposed dorsal and upper caudal fins). I thought this book would be more about the animals that inspired these tales and when the "monsters" meant to the people who saw them. I was hoping from a lot more from this book but didn't get it.
Oct 25, 2012 marked it as to-read
As heard in the Science Times podcast.
A very good book. I did find it a bit slow at times (admittedly in the sections dealing with monsters I cared less about), but overall the information included is highly informative and I found Ellis' sense of humor amusing.

I don't think I've ever seen a source on cryptozoology that does as good a job as this book at compiling the historical sources of evidence for a monster, assessing those sources, and comparing them to what is actually known about the likely creature in question. I thought El
The science was a bit outdated in places (in the subsequent years since this book's publication, more advanced protein analyses and DNA tests have revealed that 'globsters' are just the carcasses of whales or large sharks, decayed beyond recognition), but it was still a fun, factual marriage of biology, mythology, and cryptozoology (which is pretty much a type of modern mythology). I even learned a thing or two! For example, I already knew that octopuses can open jars, but I had no idea that the ...more
Carolyn Page
Sep 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Ooooh spooky! There's a little bit of the cryptozoologist in all of us. Who wouldn't want to believe that there's a monster in the water?
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Richard Ellis is a celebrated authority on marine biology and America’s foremost marine life artist whose work has been exhibited worldwide. His nine books include The Search for the Giant Squid (a Publishers Weekly 1998 Best Book of the Year), Great White Shark, Encyclopedia of the Sea, Men and Whales, Monsters of the Sea, Deep Atlantic The Book of Whales, and Imagining Atlantis.