#18 – The Lusca

If we sat down to think about the typical places we’d expect to encounter enormous monsters, most of us would probably picture a hellscape like a steaming, isolated jungle. Or a desert wasteland. Or the blood-covered set of Funhouse with the dessicated corpses of the twins swinging from ropes in the breeze. The point I’m making is that very few of us would blurt out a tropical island paradise like the Caribbean, but that’s exactly where you should expect to encounter the Lusca.

THE HORROR. And mojitos, presumably.

THE HORROR. And mojitos, presumably.

Of course, the most terrifying irritant you can expect to encounter on land in the Caribbean is not a cryptid, but some retard in a floral shirt named Tag who drinks rum out of a coconut and insists on calling you ‘brau’ when he pesters you to go surfing with him. And should you be unfortunate enough to encounter such a man you’ll be more than entitled to hope that the Lusca would just drag him off to the abyss, but unfortunately that hasn’t happened since the 15th century.

The man who would later write Columbus’ biography, Pietro Martire d’Anghiera, described in a book in 1500 the time a few years prior that a ‘monster’ rose from the Bahaman sea and dragged a man off the beach to his death. Although the creature wasn’t described, it’s probably the earliest recorded example of an encounter with the Lusca, nicknamed by the locals as “Him of the Hairy Hands”. Local fishermen have feared the legend of the colossal octopus for hundreds of years, and rather worryingly, short forays onto land to grab at shit they want to eat are a well-documented aspect of octopus behaviour.

Of course, the open ocean around one of the busiest and most popular tourist spots in the world wouldn’t be the most sensible place for a kraken from your nightmares to stash itself away. Any self-respecting monster needs a corner to itself to raise baby monsters and snack on fishermen in peace, and the ‘blue holes’ throughout the limestone plateau surrounding the Bahamas provide just that:

'Neptune's Bumholes' didn't catch on as a name, unfortunately.

‘Neptune’s Bumholes’ didn’t catch on as a name, unfortunately.

Essentially sinkholes in the sea, there are thousands of these caverns, many of them linked by underwater passages snaking their way through the rock. Fishermen have reported their strongest lines being broken by an unknown massive animal that resembles a 50-foot octopus, including even the steel cables on crab traps. Jacques Costeau himself, fascinated by the legend, even took time out of huffing garlicky brie-farts in an enclosed wetsuit to lead an expedition in search of the Lusca. The only relevant photographs captured on that attempt featured ‘an indefinable stretch of brown flesh’, which is the colour you’d expect from an octopus, and not the typical red of giant squid.

Other more excessive accounts have the Lusca pulling down entire boats, belching the undigestible wreckage back to the surface once it’s picked the tasty bits out of the debris. The nickname ‘Him of the Hairy Hands’ even makes sense, as it may be a reference to the fringes of cirri all over the tentacles of certain octopuses. In terms of sheer size, however, at 50 feet the Lusca would dwarf even the largest known giant octopus:

Yeah, go ahead and poke it, I'm sure everything will be fine.

Yeah, go ahead and poke it, I’m sure everything will be fine.

Some have argued that there might be a scientific explanation for the vanished boats in the blue holes – sudden tidal changes can occasionally suck water back through the caverns, causing large rolling whirlpools easily powerful enough to drag down a stray swimmer or small boat. When the currents reverse, a mushroom-cloud like belch of water rises to the surface, which could account for the way the monster appears to fart the unwanted bits back once it’s finished attacking. I should think seeing that happen to a couple of mates a few hundred years ago would fairly rapidly put the freeze-dried shits up anyone watching and give rise to a monster legend, but it doesn’t account for the fact that something big is still snapping lines and stealing crab traps all around the cave system to this day.

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