I was watching a 2016 National Geographic video, Sea Monsters: A Definitive Guide, and finding it anything but definitive.
It was rife with speculation, suppositions and unanswered questions, when I wanted facts and pictures and videos, and up-close-and-personal experiences of people who had encountered sea monsters.
I know “monsters” is an unfair word – one definition is “an imaginary creature that is typically large, ugly, and frightening.”
Add the word “sea” to “monsters” and it gets really scary – after all, we’ve explored only 20 percent of our oceans, so who knows what’s down there?
Mariners have been telling sea monster stories for centuries, and they must have seen something, right?
And they’d come home and tell their stories of what they thought they saw, and listeners would draw images of what they thought they heard…
A sea full of monsters.
And there are a lot of strange creatures in our oceans:
And these three creatures were found in that meager 20 percent of the ocean we’ve explored – just imagine what’s in the other 80 percent!
Which brings us back to Sea Monsters: The Definitive Guide.
And my new word.
And about time.
The National Geo film did include a few actual scientists, and one talked about something that had washed up on an ocean beach. It looked like this:
Or maybe it was this:
What these three images have in common – and what the scientist called them – and what my new word is, is:
The perfect word!
A combination of “glob” and “lobster,” and here’s the definition:
“An unidentified organic mass that washes up on the shoreline of an ocean or other body of water. A globster is distinguished from a normal beached carcass by being hard to identify, at least by initial untrained observers, and by creating controversy as to its identity.”
My spellcheck doesn’t like the word, but I sure do.
Globster was coined by British biologist Ivan T. Sanderson in 1962, after a mass of something washed up on a beach in Tasmania. It was described as having “no visible eyes, no defined head, and no apparent bone structure”:
And it was big: 20 ft by 18 ft and estimated to weigh between five and 10 tons.
What else could you call it, but a…
Apparently no photographs exist of the Tasmanian globster, but plenty more recent globster photographs do.
Like this one, from Fiji in 2020:
And this one from the Philippines in 2018:
And this, also in 2018, in New Zealand:
The last, it turns out, was actually one of these:
A lion’s mane jellyfish:
In fact, globsters that wash up on beaches are identified by scientists – mostly as various decomposing species of whale, though there are a few people out there trying to trick us:
As a scientist explained the globster phenomenon in this Newsweek article:
Once the animal dies and starts decomposing,
“Gas buildup inside the body cavity causes bloating and distortion. Various parts drop off or are scavenged by sharks as it floats around. Different parts of the flesh break down at differential rates.”
And all of that can cause this sperm whale:
To become this:
So, though the National Geo program disappointed me…
Learning a new word thrilled me.
I can’t wait to use it – I’ll be the life of the party!