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Enormous worms and serpents who rise from the deep to drag down ships in their crushing coils, sea serpents are perhaps the most famous and easily recognized type of Sea Monster.

They're usually strictly reptilian creatures, but may be portrayed with more piscine elements such as rayed fins and gills or even entirely fishlike heads. In some cases, they may be outright very big, long-bodied fish. They're typically limbless, but may possess fins or flippers; articulated limbs are rare.

Sea serpents are often simply oversized snakelike beasts, but some works may link them with other monsters such as dragons. In these cases, sea serpents may be portrayed as a related but distinct species or specifically as a kind of seagoing dragon. Links can also be drawn with lake serpents, in which case they may be portrayed as related creatures. When this is so, either kind may be modelled after the other, either with lake serpents being portrayed as more snakelike than they usually are or sea serpents gaining features such as flippers and plesiosaur-like necks.


Unlike regular snakes, sea serpents are rarely directly associated with poison, but are almost always constrictors; indeed, a common stock pose for these creatures shows them coiled around an unfortunate vessel about to crushed to flinders or dragged down into the depths. Even when they do possess poisonous bites, they're still likely to be portrayed as crushing prey in their coils.

Their exact placement on the Food Chain of Evil can vary, although they're usually fairly powerful creatures. Depending on the work in question, serpents may be among the most dangerous things in the sea or themselves prey to bigger monsters such as the Kraken and Leviathan.

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: A sea serpent with an almost crocodile-like head and jaws lined with barbels appears during the Elf Island arc as one of the many creatures that were brought into the physical world after it merged with the spirit world. It lunges out of the water to snap up a seabird, but is itself devoured by a monstrous whale.
  • Digimon: The Seadramon family is a line of aquatic -dramon Digimon depicted as serpentine, legless and exclusively marine. Seadramon is a fairly typical sea serpent, MegaSeadramon is largely a bigger take on this with a sword-like horn, and MetalSeadramon and GigaSeadramon are cyborg versions of this trope, with GigaSeadramon in particular being modified to serve as a living troop carrier.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Unlike the other characters, who transform into terrestrial dragons of various sorts, Elma's true form is a massive one-horned sea serpent with a trident-shaped tail.

  • The Carta Marina shows, alongside a riotous collection of other sea monsters, an immense serpent off the coast of Norway in the act of coiling around an unfortunate ship. Olaus describes this creature as being 200 feet long and twenty thick, and as dwelling in the sea caves in the nearby coast. The most well-known print of the map colors the creature bright red. Its appearance is a bad omen, and portends an imminent war or change in rulership.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: Serpents are a creature type dedicated to this sort of beasts, and distinct from regular snakes. The vast majority are marine, but they can be found in swamps, lakes or rivers, typically in planes were seas aren't present — the Egyptian Mythology-inspired plane of Amonkhet, for instance, has serpents living in the mighty Luxa River. Notable examples of serpents include the lionfish-like Frilled Sea Serpent, the classic Sea Serpent and Serpent of the Endless Sea, which gets bigger and stronger the more Island lands you control. Notably, they're almost always Blue, absurdly huge and little more than ravening predators, despite the Blue color being based on anything but brute force.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Sea Serpents are a monster type representing a variety of marine dragons.

    Comic Books 
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In the Donald Duck story "No Such Varmint", Donald discovers that he is completely useless at everything except snake charming. This proves handy when the Ducks run into a gigantic sea snake which responds positively to Donald's musical talents.
  • Legends of the Dead Earth: In Azrael Annual #2, Azrael, his counselor Brian and the Joker are attacked by a sea serpent while they are making their way across a river to Gotham by boat. Although the Joker repeatedly tells the other two men not to whistle, as doing this will attract the monster, he does so himself at the first opportunity. He explains that he did so because he's "a nutty guy". Azrael is able to slay the monster with his sword.
  • The Sandman: A sea serpent appears in the story "Hob's Leviathan", part of the "World's End" arc.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: In The High Temple of Crowned Death, sea serpents are mentioned as a more fearsome variant of sea monster than the one already seen.
    there are rumours of sea serpents that can grow to twice the length of the undead octopus you defeated so decisively. However, when judging by volume, the latter might still count as the larger of the two." Some of the eagerness disappeared from Torian's dream-like voice. "Unfortunately, the depths of the ocean are not a well-researched topic; there may yet be larger creatures completely unknown to us."
  • The Palaververse:
    • Sea serpents are among the setting's sapient marine races, and the most likely to have dealings with surface-dwellers; this typically involves the serpents hiring themselves out as guides and guards during long sea voyages in return for surface commodities, but sometimes they'll go after these goods by directly attacking the ships carrying them. They're usually solitary, gathering only to mate and raise their elvers or when competition with other sea creatures forces them to gather into small shivers, and otherwise lead largely nomadic lives.
    • Cirein-croin, featured in Parlous, is a sea serpent of utterly mind-boggling proportions, with a vast, twisting body covered in silver scales, fins taller than warships and a serpentine neck that can rise to the level of the clouds.
  • Past Sins: In The Road Home, Shining Armor, Cadence and Twilight are attacked by a lake serpent with A Head at Each End that Twilight identifies as an Ouroboros.

  • Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent follows a kindly serpent who only eats sardines and gets bullied by a shark because he doesn't sink ships.
  • A Description of the Northern Peoples describes a fearsome, black-scaled serpent that lives in the sea caves near the Norwegian city of Bergen, which comes out on summer nights to prey on livestock, sailors and marine creatures. It also possesses a hairy mane, unusually enough.
  • The Essex Serpent: A mysterious sea monster, called the Essex serpent or Leviathan and believed by some people to have wings, is sighted in Aldwinter and seems to terrorize the coast: there is a mysterious death of a man on New Year's Eve, winter won't end, animals turn up dead, more people die or get lost... Cora is interested in fossils and Mary Anning's work, and therefore any news of a mythical serpent is like catnip to her. She supposes it could really exist, though she's sure much of the stories are exaggeration and caused by the general sense of panic and eeriness. She hopes she'll discover it and that it will be a living ichthyosaur.
  • Harry Potter: While they never appear in the main series, the spin-off book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them reveals that sea serpents do indeed exist in the Wizarding World and are among the biggest of all beasts. It's stated that, despite hysterical/exaggerated Muggle stories of their ferocity, sea serpents are usually docile and harmless creatures.
  • Johannes Cabal and the Fear Institute: The main characters glimpse one from a distance when sailing in the Dreamlands. They're titanic Lightning Bruisers; the captain cheerfully tells them that a ship's utterly doomed when in a serpent's path and perfectly safe when not, so there's no point in worrying either way. They are not reassured.
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth: Subverted. While sailing the inner sea, Hans sees a group of forty-foot-long animals fighting, including a turtle, a sea serpent, a crocodile, and a whale. However, Professor Lidenbrock quickly realizes there's only two, a Plesiosaurus and an Ichtyosaurus, which they'd mistaken for a tangle of different creatures.
  • Liveship Traders: Sea serpents feature prominently, as they're the larval stage of dragons. They live in the sea in this form for several years, before coming ashore, cocooning themselves and emerging some time later as newly formed dragons.
  • A Memoir By Lady Trent: Sea serpents are dragon-like species that are common in the world's oceans. They're Isabella's primary subject of study in the third book, Voyage of the Basilisk.
  • Monsters Of The Sea, a nineteenth century book on sea monsters, includes an image of a very unusual serpent with a thick mane of hair.
  • Ology Series: The sea serpents in Monsterology combine reptilian and piscine characteristics, possessing mostly snakelike bodies in addition to fishlike fins and gills. They're large enough to prey on whales, but are themselves preyed upon by krakens and leviathans.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians:
    • A random sea serpent in the short story "Percy Jackson and the Stolen Chariot" from The Demigods Files.
    • The Heroes of Olympus: A few purple serpents appear in "The Mark of Athena" as part of Ceto and Phorcys' sea monster aquarium.
  • Redwall: Being that of Redwall a world of Talking Animals, the role of sea serpent is taken up by smaller creatures, generally snakes or eels:
    • In Salamandastron, the Deepcoiler is a monstrous lake snake longer than three shrew logboats.
    • In Taggerung, Yo Karr is a huge cave eel worshiped by a tribe of pygmy shrews who regularly sacrifice one of their own to it so as to ensure a plentiful catch of migrating elvers. Tagg kills the monster to free the tribe.
    • In The Long Patrol, an unnamed yellow eel that lived in the well of Kotir Castle (on whose ruins Redwall was built) ends up fighting Skipper when he investigates a cave-in threatening the south wall. After a long subterranean battle, he and the eel's corpse are washed out in the river.
  • Temeraire: Sea serpents are primitive cousins of the dragons, which they resemble save for their greater size and relative length, missing wings and webbed feet; some possess an additional set of slender, likewise webbed limbs in front of their forelegs, which are believed to be similar to what true dragons' wings evolved from. Those in the Atlantic are relatively small and largely avoid ships, but the ones in the Pacific Ocean are much larger and more aggressive, as the main characters discover when one attempts to crush their ship in its coils on their way to China. They're thought of as untrainable and animal-level creatures, unlike the sapient dragons, but there are indications that they may be far more intelligent than they're given credit for.
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: On its journey east, the Dawn Treader comes under attack from a sea serpent that almost manages to crush it in its coils.
  • The Witchlands has sea foxes, which are giant, carnivorous sea serpents with foxes' heads. They're attracted to the scent of blood in the water and can crush ships in pursuit of their prey. Most people consider them mythical, but Safi, Iseult and Merik encounter — and are nearly killed by — two of them when they're sailing to Lejna.
  • Wulfrik: When trapped on the coast of Ulthuan by vengeful elves, Wulfrik and Broendulf find that their ship has been smashed to kindling by a massive merwyrm. Wulfrik attacks the merwyrm, and, while he doesn't manage to kill it, he inflicts wounds severe enough that the wyrm goes away, allowing them to reclaim the prow of the Seafang and escape.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Encantadia: The prison of Carcero is inhabited and guarded by multiple bakunawas, a type of sea serpent from Filipino mythology.

    Mythology and Folklore 
  • Norse Mythology: Jormungandr the World Serpent, an immense sea snake so large that he wraps all the way around Midgard, holding his tail in his own jaws. He has a major rivalry with Thor, and plays a key role in Ragnarok.
  • Saint Olaf is credited, among other miraculous acts, with having killed a sea serpent and thrown its body onto a mountainside where a slender, serpentine shape can still be seen today.
  • Sea serpents are a recurring motif in cryptozoology. Numerous reports of serpent-like sea creatures have cropped up over time, most of which are attributable to misidentified sea animals or debris or were outright faked.
    • The Cadborosaurus, sometimes given the pseudo-scientific name Cadborosaurus willsi, is a cryptid from the coastal regions of New England, generally being described as long, serpentine creature with either multiple humps or an undulating body, a long neck topped by a horse-like head, front flippers and either hind flippers or a fan-like tail. It's generally thought to have been either an oarfish or a group of sea lions swimming in a line and mistaken for a single creature.
    • Chessie, the monster of Chesapeake Bay between Maryland and Virginia, is described as a giant snake between twenty and forty feet in length, which swims by flexing its body in a sine curve. Some reports also give it a pair of flippers.
    • The Stinson Beach Serpent was described as a long, snake- or eel-like creature that swam at tremendous speeds, arcing itself in an out of the water as it did so.
    • Some rather complex classification systems have cropped up over time. Most tend to include wildly divergent creatures, but gigantic eels, surviving prehistoric creatures (generally either sea reptiles or the giant, long-bodied archaeocete whales) and long-necked, short-tailed and finned sea lions strongly resembling the classic Nessie-like lake monster tend to feature in most.
      • Bernard Heuvelmans, in On The Track of Unknown Animals, divided sea serpents between the Long-Necked, a 60-foot sea lion with a plesiosaur-like neck; the Merhorse, a similar form with a horse-like head; the Many-Humped, a long-bodied primitive whale; the Super-Otter, a very primitive, otter-like whale that Heuvelmans thought had only lived around Greenland and to have gone extinct by his time; the Many-Finned, another primitive whale with finlike projections on its sides; Super Eels, a number of gigantic eels and similar fishes; the Marine Saurian, a surviving Mesozoic sea reptile or seagoing crocodile; and giant Venus' girdles and salp chains. He also included things most people wouldn't consider serpents, including gigantic turtles and enormous, tadpole-like creatures (named the Father-of-all-the-Turtles and the Yellow Belly).
      • Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe recognized a basic sea serpent with four limbs, a long body and numerous humps, possibly an archaeocete of some sort; a long-necked giant pinniped with maned males and females with snorkel-like nostrils, which was also found in freshwater lakes; a centipede-like creature much like Heuvelmans' Many-Finned; a late-surviving saurian; and a variety of non-serpentine sea monsters.
      • Bruce Champagne's system had two variants of long-necked sea lions; three eel-like forms, two reptilian and one cetacean; a long-bodied, humped reptile with a camel-like head and undulating movements; two large-finned forms, one a cetacean with a large dorsal fin and one of indeterminate nature with a sail-like fin; a creature with a plated carapace and oily hair; a saurian creature; and a very long-bodied, many-finned mammal.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Sea serpents are immense marine predators with a powerful constricting attack and the ability to swallow smaller creatures whole. They often attack ships, and their lairs are often littered with the burst hulks of shattered vessels. They sometimes find their way to the Elemental Plane of Water, where the local genies use them as steeds and guardian beasts.
  • GURPS:
    • GURPS Fantasy Bestiary describes sea serpents as legendary, solitary predators that will attack anything smaller than a whale. They will attempt to crush smaller targets in their coils, but can just as easily rear up to pluck sailors right from a ship's deck.
    • GURPS Dragons includes sea serpents as the oceanic counterpart of landbound dragons. Their basic template is simply a big animal capable of crushing a ship in its coils, but proposed variants include intelligent beings, as well as the Malay bena, a serpent that lives in estuaries, attacks fishing ships and sometimes probes up rivers. The section also proposes that, in a setting ruled over by draconic deities, a powered-up sea serpent might serve as the ruler of the seas.
  • Palladium Books:
    • Palladium Fantasy: Sea serpents are large, aggressive marine reptiles found in the world's outer oceans, and prone to capsizing boats. A number of distinct varieties exist:
      • Horned ramrods have heavily armored heads and rhinoceros-like horns. They charge into ships like battering rams in order to break them open to get at the crew.
      • Jormund serpents are immense creatures, up to 400 feet in length, and highly territorial. They typically mistake ships as either intruders or prey and attempt to smash them to pieces, after which they devour any sailor they find in the water.
      • Northern stranglers are very ophidian serpents that kill their prey — large marine animals, including other sea serpents — by crushing it in their coils. They have also learned that ships are easy source of food, whether in the form of garbage pitched over the side, nets full of fish, whales caught on harpoons or sailors fallen in the drink, and will often follow larger vessels to glean such morsels. Smaller ships, of course, are just crushed to flinders from the get-go.
      • Snaggle-toothed gobblers resemble primordial sea monsters, with four paddle-like limbs, barrel-shaped torsos and thin, toothy mouths. Instead of sinking ships, they just snatch sailors right off the deck.
      • Viper serpents have long, clawed arms and the heads of deep-sea fish. Unlike other serpents, they kill for pleasure instead of just for food.
    • Rifts: Sea serpents are among the various creatures that were stranded on Earth when the Rifts came. They're common sea monsters in the setting's present day, and can reach immense sizes. Numerous varieties have been recorded in the oceans of the world, including some with stubby legs or tentacles capable of limited movement on land.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Sea serpents are immense, reptilian monsters with large fins framing their faces, and some of the most feared creatures in Golarion's oceans. Mystery Monsters Revisited, a sourcebook focused on cryptids and mysterious creatures, dedicates a chapter to discussing them and goes in some detail about their biology and habits. They're frustratingly elusive creatures despite their immense sizes, and can be maddeningly difficult to track down between attacks; they never stop growing and aren't known to have maximum ages, and the largest and oldest sea serpents are powerful enough to prey on creatures as powerful as krakens. There are also deep-sea serpents, which resemble abyssal fish, live in the deepest reaches of the ocean and are almost never seen by surface-dwellers.
    • Ketesthiuses resemble sea serpents with wolf heads, fish tails and two front legs with webbed claws. They're most notable for possessing stomachs that are essentially pocket dimensions, which often become home to stranded ships and other sea monsters that the ketesthius swallowed whole.
  • Shadowrun: Sea serpents are relatives of dragons resembling monstrous plesiosaurs with flexible necks and ridged or humped backs. They come in two distinct varieties: saltwater sea serpents are larger — up to twenty-five meters long — and are aggressive carnivores, feeding on cetaceans and other large marine predators; freshwater sea serpents are smaller — generally only up to eighteen meters long — herbivorous creatures native to large lakes.
  • Warhammer:
    • Gargantuans are sea serpents hundreds of feet long and up to thirty feet wide, and with large nasal horns.
    • Merwyrms are distantly related to dragons, and while serpentine they have four stubby limbs that let them move on land.
    • Sea Dragons are the degenerate descendants of dragons, no longer able to fly or move outside of water, but still among the biggest of the Dark Elves' war beasts, some even used to pull ships.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Monstrous sea serpents are among the numerous predatory beasts native to Fenris' ice-choked seas. They are often hunted by Fenrisian sailors for their tough, useful hides, but are entirely capable of hunting them right back.
    • Ithaka, the oceanic homeworld of the Iron Snakes chapter of Space Marines, is home to immense serpents up to 300 meters in length, which create storms that trail behind them as they swim. Chapter initiates are required to hunt one of these beasts in their initiation rituals, and the chapter also uses them to test accused criminals in the "Trial by Wyrm". This involves leaving the accused on a spit of rock in serpent-infested waters and coming back in six hours to check if they got eaten. If they're still alive then they're considered guilty and executed, since the Iron Snakes don't believe that the serpents would sully themselves by eating a criminal.

  • Dwarf Fortress: Sea serpents are immense marine creatures — some of the largest creatures in the seas, in fact — resembling serpentine dragons with flippers instead of legs. They spawn in savage oceans, although only one serpent will spawn in each suitable biome.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • One of the series' most recurring entities is Leviathan, a massive finned serpent who rules over the oceans. His (or in two cases, her) signature attack is Tsunami/Tidal Wave, in which Leviathan raises the oceans to send them crashing down on the enemy. Depending on the game, Leviathan may be a good-willed monarch, an evil dragon, a bestial creature, or something in between.
    • Jormungand (sometimes referred to as Midgardsormr) is also recurring monster, but oddly enough it almost never appears in the ocean.
  • Golden Sun: The final Mercury summon is a huge serpent named Azul which attacks by trapping the enemy in water and then ramming through it.
  • Might and Magic VI has the Sea Serpent line of monsters, which are giant wyrms swimming around in the Eel Infested Waters oceanic region. The second tier ones are named Sea Monsters (the ones in the tier above that are Sea Terrors, so named because, in addition to being one of the most dangerous non-boss creatures in the game, their attacks also inflict supernatural fear).
  • Pokémon: Gyarados is a ferocious, destructive and entirely fishlike sea serpent that can level cities, and evolves from the somewhat pathetic Magikarp. Milotic is considered its benevolent counterpart of sorts, due to the fact that it's also a serpent, it has a much calmer temperament and it evolves from an equally weak Pokemon as Gyarados, although it is much rarer. Gold/Silver/Crystal features a red Gyarados (most are blue) rampaging in the aptly-named Lake of Rage.
  • The Sims 2: In Neighborhood View, a sea serpent can sometimes be seen randomly at the end of the river and swimming out into the bay.

  • Champions of Faraus has sea serpents, and one named Serpentus antagonizes the main characters when they need to investigate why he's expanding his territory.

    Web Original 
  • ''North of Reality" describes a curious habit of sea serpents — they swim in a sine wave pattern, arcing in and out of the sea, but only appear to exist above water, their bodies appearing as they breach and vanishing when they pass beneath the waterline. The article speculates that the Earth hosts multiple oceans, which only share their surfaces, and whose depths are mutually inaccessible to creatures present within one or another. Sea serpents are merely reptiles that happen to inhabit a different ocean from the one we can access, and we can only perceive one another in the surface we share — to sea serpents, mankind is likewise a species of insubstantial phantoms, vanishing the moment we dive beneath the water.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-169 is the source of "the Bloop" (an unexplained undersea sound, now thought to the sound of fracturing ice), a sea serpent estimated to be somewhere between 2000 and 8000 kilometers long, believed to breathe once every three months, and to have originated in the pre-Cambrian era.
    • SCP-3000 is a giant moray eel estimated between 600 and 900 kilometers long living off the Ganges delta, exuding a substance that causes severe memory alteration in humans. The Foundation currently uses it to synthesize the substance to create its amnestics (by feeding D-class personnel to it), but it seems the creature doesn't actually digest the humans it eats to produce the substance.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: There's a reason why the Serpent's Pass is called such, which the characters find out firsthand when a giant sea serpent comes out when they try to cross.
  • Babar: "The Unsalted Sea Serpent" has a big menacing sea serpent and its baby offspring living in the local lake.
  • Beany and Cecil: Cecil the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent is a benevolent example.
  • Care Bears has a sea serpent named "Shaky" who needs work on his confidence.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Elements of Harmony", one of the obstacles the main characters encounter while crossing the Everfree Forest is a river being churned into impassability by a weeping sea serpent. This particular serpent possesses arms, but no other limbs, and both cranial and facial hair; the loss of half of his beloved mustache is what set him off in the first place. He later returns in "Slice of Life" as Cranky Doodle Donkey's "best monster" during the latter's wedding.

    Real Life 
  • The giant oarfish, or King of Herrings, is an elongated, serpentine fish that looks like something straight out of a mythology textbook. It can grow to eleven meters (36 feet) in length and unconfirmed reports claim that some specimens can reach seventeen meters (56 ft), it's the longest existing bony fish and it may be the source of many sea serpent sightings.
  • Sea snakes are nowhere near as long as their mythical counterparts, but they do have very powerful venom.
  • The prehistoric mosasaurs were likely the closest thing to this archetype in real life—enormous, predatory marine lizards (that is, true lizards of the order squamata and closely related to snakes and monitor lizards) who could grow up to 40 or even 50 feet in length. Early paleoart gave them a serpentine appearance to complete the look, but later studies suggest more streamlined, torpedo-like animals.
  • In prehistoric times, there really were giant marine snakes, such as Gigantophis and Palaeophis, both of which exceeded the length of the largest modern snakes, and are estimated at possibly over nine meters in length (30 ft). There was also Titanoboa, which was the largest snake known to have existed, reaching 12 meters (42 feet) long. It's believed to also have been largely aquatic, though it lived in freshwater rather than saltwater.
  • There was also the primitive cetacean Basilosaurus, which had an enormously elongated body up to twenty metres (66 ft) in length. It was once even considered a marine reptile (hence its "-saurus" misnomer) and has sometimes been used as an explanation for modern sea serpents in cryptozoology.
  • The elongated, humpbacked, amphibious dinosaur Spinosaurus would have fit the archetype quite well too, though it was a fresh-water animal rather than a sea-dwelling one.


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