Lets Get Weird: the Lusca

I freaking love sea monsters. I grew up fascinated by the ocean and all the shit we didn’t know, all the things that might be down there. I read a lot of Peter Benchley and thought marine biology was the coolest damn thing, and I still do. There’s a lot of sea monster horror novels today, but not a whole lot of urban fantasy (someone please fix this immediately). And no sea monster story has fascinated me more than the almighty lusca.

giant-octopus
He just really wants to give you a hug!

The lusca is a giant octopus of monstrous proportions. Unlike the enteroctopus dofleini, which has been recorded at up to eleven feet, the lusca is said to be well over twenty feet long, with sightings of something up to fifty feet in length. Unlike other sea monsters, like the giant squid, the lusca would be a truly horrifying thing were it actually true–and the jury is still out on whether it is or isn’t. Octopi have no pressure limits; they can go in water at any depth without issue, able to ascend to the surface without suffering physical harm. They also have the most impressive camouflage techniques on the planet, and their intelligence has only been put to the test in the past decade.

Good news is, if you ever feel the strong desire to go monster hunting (who doesn’t!) you’ll have a very nice vacation. The lusca is rumored to occupy the blue holes–a series of underwater caves located in the Bahamas.

blue-holes-off-andros
Not creepy looking at all

The blue holes which the lusca are said to occupy are less then 10% explored due to the dangers of diving in such a vast, unmapped cave system. What looks on the surface to be inland lakes and massive off-shore caves are actually just more of the same system–they’re all interconnected. This makes getting lost while diving within them very, very easy, and a lot of people have died trying. Teaming with wildlife and offering endless places to hide, they would make for the perfect habitat to support a creature as gargantuan as the lusca. I’m personally waiting for the day when someone gets a highly advanced ROV down there and gets a better map together (and, ya know, maybe the little robot gets gobbled up by something).

st-augustine-blob-1896
Original photo of the St. Augustine Blob circa 1896.

One of the most famous lusca sightings occurred right here in the United States off the coast of Florida, when an unidentified carcass, nicknamed the Blob, washed ashore on Crescent Beach, St. Augustine in 1896. Initial hypothesis believed the mass to be just one part of a giant octopus, but later analysis thought the blob to be the carcass of a large whale. However, scientists lacked the technology to prove whether the flesh was whale or otherwise; only visual analysis was used at the time. Recent testing has been attempted on one of the last remaining samples of the St. Augustine Blob, but sadly poor preservation techniques have rendered them useless. Whale carcass or giant octopus, no one quite knows for certain.

There have been many attempts to find the lusca, my personal favorite by Josh Gates during an episode of Destination Truth, but like many of the ocean’s great cryptids, it remains elusive. Is it fact or folklore? Who the heck knows. We’ll never know for certain until the blue holes are mapped out in their entirety, and that could take a long, long time.

Sources:
Unnatural Phenomena: A Guide to the Bizarre Wonders of North America
The Saint Augustine Monster
Lusca: Tentacled Sea Monster from the Caribbean – was it Octopus giganteus?
Deep Dark Secrets – an article on Bahama’s blue holes by National Geographic

Things To Watch:
MonsterQuest: Season 2 Episode 11; the Boneless Horror
Destination Truth: Season 3 Episode 2; Island of the Dolls and the Lusca
River Monsters: Season 8 Episode 5; Terror in Paradise

Fun in Fiction:
What Lurks Beneath by Ryan Lockwood

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