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Episode 59: A Deep Fear


H.P. Lovecraft said it best: “…the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”. And no other place in the world is as unknown to us as the ocean. It’s dark, it’s deep, it’s full of questions—and maybe something else.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
At the height of the Cold war, tension between the United States and the Soviet Union, the American Navy was using audio technology to detect soviet submarines. These hype Howard, underwater microphones could detect unusual sounds from hundreds or even thousands of miles away, helping military see far into the depths of the ocean and after the cold war, the National oceanic and atmospheric administration, otherwise known as Noah, built on that old microphone system with. of gaining a new understanding of the massive unexplored world beneath the ocean waves. They studied ambient sounds geophysical, noise and Bio acoustics sounds the ocean creatures
make, but in eighteen ninety seven they incur heard a sound that defied explanation, a very low frequency, very organic and very powerful, sound, so powerful that it was picked up by their microphone system from over three thousand miles away. Oh an hp, love craft fans might get it out of the location they pinpointed its roughly nine hundred miles from the location of the mythical island city of reliable work. A flu is imprisoned, waiting and dreaming. It didn't help that the time Noah deemed this sound to be neither man made nor geological. It seemed to be organic. signal that varied too much to be mechanical today dentist leaned toward another theory, though
it's the sound of icebergs, scraping against the ocean floor. Maybe many people still wonder what the blue as they called. It, really was we wonder, because there's something dark and mysterious about the ocean even asked centuries of exploration with only mapped about five percent of the ocean floor. It's crazy, but we know more about the surface of Mars than we do about roughly. Seventy percent of our own planet there's so much darkness. So much that's unknown That leaves us feeling a bit uneasy. fear of the unknown, because it's full of questions. Questions are risky their dangerous,
they prevent us from settling in and feeling comfortable in. The ocean is full of questions, but according to some, there is a very good reason to be afraid. I'm here- and maybe this is lore- one of the endearing features of many early european maps. Is the inclusion of tiny little sketch sprinkled throughout the ocean sketches of beastly green heads, protruding from the These were long lashing tales reaching out for a nearby vessel. You won't find
Them on navigational maps from the time they were a common feature of the decorative maps that were created for aristocratic homes. They were, above all, entertainment But there were enough stories told by reputable people to give these decorative maps a bit of credibility, but one example. would be the map drawn around fifteen thirty by almost Magnus he was the catholic archbishop of Sweden along with being a well respected historian in his day, so when his of Norway showed the waters off the coast to be literally packed with sea monsters. People believed him, in fact, when Conrad guess they're pub, the volume four of his Historiae animalism in fifteen. Fifty eight sort of up collect of all known sea creatures. He included a number of sketches from Agnes Map because to him and a lot of other people, they were real, It's not entirely their fault, the humans,
Ben telling stories of the mysterious creatures of the ocean for a very long time. Almost twenty for censure, ago, Aristotle wrote about a creature that he called the day with us, a gigantic monstrous squid centuries. Later right in Magnus is back the Norwegians who lived in travelled through the waters around Norway in Greenland spoke of the cracking. name based on the norwegian word cracker, which means an unhealthy animal or a creature. That's unnaturally twisted its meaning. That fits perfectly with notion of a mysterious sea monster, and so for a long while if it was mister various and dangerous and beneath the waves it was a crack and. A lot of these old stories can be explained away, with an understanding of just how little people really knew about the ocean in the fourteenth century, when it.
landed on an island and found the decomposing corpse of a giant or fish on the sand. He didn't say: nay, its and or fish, No, he framed the unusual site through the lens of folklore. It was big and serpent, like so now, really, it was a sea serpent or a hydra or a crack, and you get the idea Of course modern science has given us a better understanding of the ocean. We know more than a less Magnus ever did we know that the giant squid is a very real, very large creature. Although it's taken a very long time to prove that, in fact, it wasn't photographed lie in the water until two thousand and four and took another two years before it was ever filmed and the crown it isn't. The only ancient see creature to be debunked by science in fourteen ninety two Columbus, sailed the ocean blue. He reported citing something unusual in the waters off the coast of the Dominican Republic,
on January, ninth of fourteen ninety three, he claimed to have spotted three mermaids. They are not. You wrote as beautiful. they are painted, since in some ways they have a face. Like a man or has always portrayed mermaids as per woman part fish for thousands of years. humans have been obsessed with the idea of human fish, hybrid creatures, the Babylonians, the Assyrians in the ancient Greeks all told stories about them, as did cultures from Africa, China, India and Europe history. If you'll pardon the pun, is swimming with mermaids and sailors tried to avoid them. They were viewed by some as bad omens signs that tragedy was about to strike and for sale who were notoriously superstitious that meant mermaids, be avoided at all costs, but the Mermaids that Christopher Columbus cited in fourteen ninety three
more than likely nothing more than a group of manatees, a large aquatic mammal, that's fairly common near the coastline, the Caribbean C in the Gulf of Mexico. They have fish like tales arm like flippers and being mammals, pictorial, mammary glance from a distance and viewed through a few feet of water. They take all the box. But not everything can be explained away so easily, sometimes The stories are simply too numerous to detailed in two documented to be brushed aside. Some stories hold on tight long, after others have caved in under scientific scrutiny and no hail from the sea, at least in Amerika,
has held on longer than one that began in New England nearly four hundred years ago. If it's true it's more than intriguing its downright chilling In the early days of british settlement of the new world, colonies were often approached as investment opportunities for He'll supporters in England would front the money to hire colonists by supplies and launch the mission might think of it on the same level as a privately funded human mission to Mars, except for the early colonists, there is profit to be made almost four hundred years ago, in one thousand six hundred and twenty three, a private company was formed in Dorchester England with
all of settling a profitable colony in North Amerika later that year the expedition landed in the area north of Boston known as Cape Anne, and they got to work but life. In This new England was tough and within two years their funding was pulled. Sixteen twenty brought new money and new settlers. Things were looking up within two years progress. There was successful enough to warrant sending more colonists in the decade between one thousand six hundred and thirty and one thousand six hundred and forty. then ten thousand brave souls weathered the Atlantic crossing to start a new life on the northern coast of. Modern day Massachusetts in more people means more observers more eyes on this strange new land, full of indigenous people, strange animals and unknown threats. fear is a spark, that's fanned by large crowds. In setting a cannon gulf, a culture and that's just what happened in Gloucester the first.
was recorded by John Joscelyn traveler from England. Joscelyn was a keener, over of the natural world and would later go on to publish his adventures in two separate books in the late. Sixteen hundreds, a few is after his ship entered port. In the summer of one thousand, six hundred and forty eight one of the colonists told him the most unusual tale: a sea serpent, the man told him had been seen on the rocks at the northern Tipp of Cape in this general described the serpent as an enormous snake and claim that we'd slither up out of the waters of the Atlantic, the coil up there on the rocks other colonists had witnessed. It is well worth he said, a boat was sailing near that area, with four men aboard to english settlers and. Native Americans, when one of militiamen saw the serpent moving through the water. He raised his musket to fire at it,
but one of the native Americans placed his hand on the barrel. Gently told him to stop. There was too risky. He said. If the shot didn't instantly kill it, they would all be in danger. In sixteen forty one, another man named Obadiah Turner cited, the serpent in the vicinity of Gloucester needed it as over ninety feet. Long with black eyes, set into a horse shaped and said that his report could be backed up by a number of other settlers and he wasn't the last either for decades, rumour spread across the cold harsh coastline like a stiff ocean win. That's how a lot of folk lore works, There are a handful of experiences and they give birth to a wider story and story, as we know, spreads like water, it flows and see
and has a way of reaching through barriers. Given enough time story like water, believe its mark and transform a place, Gloucester was certainly being transformed One and a half centuries later, on August sixth of eighteen, seventeen two women were walking near the inner huh. Were of Gloucester when they saw something moving through. The water is if following hide inland from the sea. They stopped to watch it for a moment. Before real in exactly what it was. They were looking at It was a serpent a month, richly large serpent too large to be anything they might Typically see in the waters there, naturally they were frightened and share their story with others. Four days later. On August tenth, others had a similar experience. Susan over was walking with her father when they saw the creature in the water they described them. He is long and serpent like and said that its head was long like that of a dog or a horse
the very same day, Lydia wants and had her own, citing except one She saw the serpent. It was coiled up at the water edge when it uncoiled itself once income, It was nearly seventy feet. Long more sightings followed local man. Amos story claimed to have watched the serpent for at least half an hour He only saw portions of it as it moves through the waves, but his impression, was one of are in fear and rewrite along with his sons had multiple sightings that we August. Twelve Solomon Alan claimed that the monster actually circled his boat a few times. He described it in rough, the same terms. Eighty feet long head like a horse black eyes. watched it for hours from the side of the ship and he never felt threatened. In fact, Alan described preacher as almost playful, something he never expected from such an other worldly monster.
The summer of one thousand, eight hundred and seventeen was filled with sightings of the Gloucester Cserpent. Every time the tide came in, it seemed there was something new following it more whispers, more fear more first and second hand reports and for many tales that would be enough. Whatever it was, it was already guaranteed a place in local lore, but not this creature, the sea, serpent of Gloucester, you see, was far from finished. In the coming days, the culture in Gloucester would shift for almost two hundred years The people of the region had whispered about the creature. They warned children to be where the coast to keep it,
watchful eye on the dark Atlantic waters just beyond their door, but as the sightings, piled up at an alarming rate. People were beginning to wonder if something else should be done more than just talk more than just fear. Maybe they needed to take action. Perhaps some suggested they should hunted down. it's a very human reaction. When we fail to understand something, we tend to attack it, it's an unknown. It could be a threat, at least that's our gut reaction in these moments, I'm not saying it's a good reaction, just the natural one, so the people of Gloucester can't be blamed for acting out of character. They were, after all, afraid for safety, the tipping point, seems to have been on August fourteenth. It holds the record for the largest number.
Sea serpent sightings in a single day, not just in Gloucester, but in all of history. Seventeen, in fact seventeen sightings seventeen individual descriptions from independent reports. In that many people have that many frightful experiences. Well, it has a tendency to push a society over the edge. That's when Matthew Gascony decided take matters into his own hands. He was the carpenter for a local fishing vessel, but on August 14th of one thousand eight hundred and seventeen he didn't go out with his crewmates. Instead, You stay behind and took his own boat into the waters, just south of Gloucester Harbour and he didn't go alone either. His brother joined him, as did one of their friends. It was long before the three men found what they were looking for off in the distance they could see at the door.
Undulating shape of the sea monster, slipping in and out of the water, so the guy that their boat closer for a better look and, of course, a better shot as they approached they could see the creature in more detail same horse like head same dark eyes. It was apparently a dark, green color modeled, with Brown, the white on the underbelly, and here it was the beast that had been frightening. The village. The monster that shouldn't exist here was the thing they had come to hunt so he reached for his rifle and took aim. Gaffney fired in all three of them, swore he hit the target right head. In fact, but nothing happened. They saw no blood. The serpent didn't even flinch. Instead, it do under the dark waves and that's when they noticed that it was headed straight toward their boat. maybe that native american warrior had been right. All along
If someone was to shoot at it but not kill it, the creature would be an angry deadly threat Daphne and the others braced themselves for an attack, but the attack never happened. The serpent resurfaced on the other side of their boat began to call l and uncoil in the water moving erratically and stirring the ocean into a cauldron of foam, but he never approach them in the end. Gaff and the others sailed home empty handed. What he didn't know was just how easy it could be to get close to the creature. In fact, just two months later to boys would accomplish what gaff never could they stood over the serpents body well sort of you see in the late seventeen hundreds there was a swedish botanist named Carl Linnaeus he's the person responsible for this. lobbying the scientific system for classifying living organisms. The same system we still use today,
in seventeen. Ninety linnaean societies were formed all across Europe and America, with the goal of discovering and classifying new plants and animals. So in two I stumbled upon the dead body of a sea serpent on the Rocky Beach near Gloucester Harbor in October of one thousand, eight hundred and seventeen their parents called upon Nay, in society of New England to help study it. What they found was a three foot, long snakelike creature. There was much smaller than the sightings had reported, but the reason is obvious to The main society members standing over the body, it was a baby. The full grown serpent had entered Gloucester Harbour to lay its eggs, and this was one of the young man. Didn't five, they declared it a new undiscovered species of snake and they called it. The Scully Office Atlantic, the Atlantic humped snake before while, a few days later, another naturalist, Alexander Lesser, studied the corpse and said
was nothing more than a common black snake with. Specimen left to study. Today, it's difficult to say who was correct and then things sort of slow down and glass. There were only twelve sightings in eighteen, thirty, nine and that decrease to nine in eighteen. Seventy five, it's not the baton itself was shrinking today TRY Gloucester, has grown a lot since then, but the sightings just sort of faded away. In the first five decades of the twentieth century, the frequency of serpents sightings drop to roughly one four year, a far cry from the golden days of the early eighteen, hundreds weather not that has been a disappointment to the people of Gloucester, is unclear, but there's no more fear, no more worry and no more cautious glances cast at the dark waters of the harbour. If the Gloucester Sea Serpent was in fact a real undiscovered see creature,
we will most likely never know whatever it was. It seems too Slithered out of reach only existing now in the dark pages of history, and perhaps in the depths of Gloucester harbour the ocean, is deep and dark and full of mystery. That's the sort of space that in its fear and stories and superstition for censure he's. Sailors have been considered. Some of the most superstitious people in the world for culture is full of bad omens, good omens, mythical creatures and unique rituals its most likely a side effect of their risky profession
open, sees your life hangs in the balance. Every moment of the day, an unexpected storm, I hidden reef, a concealing fog. Anything can sneak up on a vessel and pull it down into the depths of those cold black waters. So it's no wonder that sailors have feared something darker, something more deadly than just the waves, whether it's been the tentacles of the crime in the call of the siren or the endless coils of the sea serpent. The oceans mythology is home to a dangerous aquatic menagerie. Thankfully, science has pulled the veil back on a number of these tales sometime. much as in the case of mermaids, really is nothing to fear other times the tent calls are just as long as we might have imagined a far less deadly, but they're so
about the ocean. We still don't know in many ways. It's the final undiscovered country beneath the waters off the coast of Gloucester, there's a shelf in the ocean floor. If. plateau that skirts the mainland where the water is shallower, maybe two hundred or so feet. Deep further out to sea drops to over three thousand feet, which makes the waters of the shelf a sort of world of its own not shelf, extends all the way up the east coast of North Amerika. It was there in the waters, Fourchan Bay on the southern side of Newfoundland, but something odd. happened in May of nineteen. Ninety seven to fishermen from Little Bay EAST We're in their boat when they saw something large in the water at first they, Whom it was a collection of garbage bags floating free after having fallen from another ship, so the guided
own boat over to retrieve them when they got there. They quickly realized that the shapes weren't garbage bags. They were the humps of a long necked creature the skin. Color was lighter than the Gloucester Serpent sort of a medium gray, but the rest of the description sounds eagerly familiar forty yourself feet, long large, dark eyes and head, and both men described as horselike as they approached the creature lifted its head above the water
and looked at them. For a moment. No one moved no one made a sound, the men or the creature and then without warning. It quietly slip back into the water and disappeared beneath the waves. Our fear of the sea always seems to float just beneath the surface, and if the stories are true, it's not alone This episode of whore was written and produced by me. Aaron monkey with research help from Marcel Crockett Lore is much more than upon gas. There's a book series in bookstores around the kind.
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-12.