Some fish just swim around, some fish become celebrities, here is a quick tour of the world's most famous fish and other marine creatures in popular culture, religious lore, literature and real life.
The world's most famous fish, Nemo.
Nemo made the clown anemone fish one of the most loved fish ever to swim in (tropical) waters. In fact, a lot of people now refer to this species of damselfish as 'nemos'. The cartoon also made morish idols (Fin), Regal tangs (Dory), green sea turtles (Crush and Squirt), Pacific cleaner shrimp (Jacques) as well as a host of other creatures familiar to a wider audience. The diving community can certainly thank Nemo for sparking a renewed interest in reef sea life for big and small people alike.
The Shark in 'Jaws' but also Bruce, the repentant one.
The film 'Jaws' probably terrified a whole generation out of the water and has people still humming the theme tune as a sign of imminent danger over 45 years on. The mechanical shark in 'Jaws' was nicknamed Bruce by the film crew, which then inspired the name for the shark in 'Finding Nemo'. Even if sharks these days claim 'fish are friends, not food', all they need is a whiff of blood and they become the killing machines we have always portrayed them as. Statistics show that we humans kill 100 million sharks a year and they only kill 6 of us worldwide and yet the myth lives on.
The Biblical Leviathan
The Bible refers to a huge sea monster (or sea serpent) that ruled the oceans, the Leviathan. In fact, the word has now become synonymous with an extraordinarily huge (sea) creature or ship. Interestingly, according to Judaic lore, 'originally, God produced a male and a female Leviathan, but, lest in multiplying the species should destroy the world, He slew the female, reserving her flesh for the banquet that will be given to the righteous on the advent of the Messiah'. No one is in any way surprised that 'He' slayed the female...
After having a look at what aquatic dinosaurs looked like, you can easily see where the inspiration for these creatures came from (and dragons in general for that matter). Imagine a person in 300 BC digging in his field and finding a skeleton or fossil that looks like this... (see picture below)...What would they think?
The psychic octopus, Paul.
Paul actually existed in real life and made a lot of people happy with his psychic skills in predicting football match outcomes. Paul's keepers would present him with two identical bowls of food, each bearing the logo of a different football team playing each other in an upcoming game. Paul correctly predicted the results of 8 matches in the 2010 world cup and had also excelled in predicting the UEFA Cup results shortly before. Paul became famous as an animal oracle but sadly died soon after.
Moby Dick, the world's best-known whale.
The adventures of Captain Ahab and his quest to find (and kill) the white sperm whale that took his leg have become a classic novel. The cetacean in the book was named after an albino sperm whale, Mocha Dick- described by an American explorer- that swam the waters near Mocha Island in the early 19th century. Herman Melville's book describes whaling as a macho adventure of man against beast. Sadly, whaling would then put the planet's whale populations on the brink of extinction so the book reads very differently today. Certainly, it is an eye opener on the diversity of the whaling ships' crews, hailing from all creeds and countries, and sailors' harsh life while hunting these beautiful marine mammals for their precious blubber.
The mythical Kraken which attacked the Nautilus
It's hard to write about famous sea creatures without mentioning Norwegian mythology's (in)famous Kraken, brought to fame by Jules Vernes in '1000 Leagues under the Sea'.
The Cepahlopod-like sea creature of enormous size rises up from the depths and wraps its arms and tentacles around unsuspecting ships (or submarines like the Nautilus) and takes them to their watery deaths. Two species of huge squids are found in the deep sea, the giant squid and the colossal squid, which may have been the inspiration for this legendary beast. The largest recorded giant squid weighed a ton and measured 13 m from the tip of its body to the tip of its tentacles...Though rarely found alive in shallow waters (the first living one was only recorded on camera in 2006), their dead bodies often float up to the surface, nourishing sailors' tales and writers' imaginations.