Posts Tagged ‘sea dragons’

Caught on film, that is. Sea Dragons are those cute little fish, cousins of the seahorse, who disguise themselves with elaborate fins that mimic the appearance of seaweed. For decades, scientists believed there were two species of Sea Dragons, the Common or Weedy Sea Dragon and the more flamboyant Leafy Sea Dragon.

A team including Greg Rouse, Josefin Stiller and Nerida Wilson was studying sea dragons at the Scripps Institution in San Diego, CA. Stiller realized that one specimen had been mistakenly identified. The preserved fish, from Australia, was not a Weedy Sea Dragon at all. It was red rather than brown and didn’t have the ornate fins.

This was something new. Together, Stiller and Wilson went through other Australian fish collections and found three more specimens. One of these was nearly 100 years old. Rouse’s team presented the Ruby Sea Dragon (Phyllopteryx dewysea) to the world in 2015, and began making plans to study them in the wild.

In 2017, the expedition yielded results! This article in the New York Times included footage of Ruby Sea Dragons at home in the sea. According to this account, Rouse’s team of researchers spent several days searching for their elusive quarry. Only on the very last day did they achieve their goal.

Because even a 9-inch-long dragon is sneaky like that.

Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.



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After all these military-grade Sea Dragons, I’m longing for a truly mythic sea dragon, aren’t you? Well, here you go.

Ryujin was the dragon god who ruled the seas in Japanese folklore. Also known as Ryu-O or Watatsumi, he was a major deity in Japan’s traditional faith, Shinto. Considering that Japan is a group of islands surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, this isn’t surprising. The sea could be bountiful or turn destructive at a moment’s notice, so everyone wanted to get in good with the sea god.

In addition to being the god of the sea, Ryujin was believed to control fresh water springs and the coming of the rain. He could walk in people’s dreams. As a healer, his skill was supreme.

According to the tales, Ryujin lived in a beautiful palace of red and white coral, far beneath the sea. Using a set of magical gems, he was able to control the tides. Other tales say that he had an underground passage to Lake Biwa, on the island of Honshu, and his palace was actually under Lake Biwa. His court was made up of fish, turtles, jellyfish, and similar sea creatures. When he wanted to operate on land, snakes would serve as his messengers.

Like many of the Asian dragons, Ryujin was able to take human form at will. There are various tales of his adventures, although he seems a bit of a homebody. Most humans encounter him by wandering into his domain rather than him being out and about. Like the sea, Ryujin could be fickle. He might be kind and helpful, or dangerous and sinister. Several of the tales show him stealing things from mortals or other deities, so there’s an element of the trickster-god, as well.

Check back on Saturday for one of Ryujin’s legends.

Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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In addition to rockets and missiles, the U. S. Navy does have one sea dragon that made it into the real world. That’s the MH-53E heavy helicopter, manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a longtime pioneer in helicopter design.

Sea Dragon helicopters can operate from aircraft carriers or on land. Fitted with weaponry, they can support ground troops when needed. What they’re best known for, however, is mine sweeping. Sea Dragon can be used to tow all manner of detection devices, with or without countermeasures.

Even with these capabilities, the Sea Dragon has a down side. It is considered crash-prone, with a number of deaths linked to the aircraft over time. Since Sea Dragons already are no longer manufactured, there was serious consideration of grounding them entirely. But without a ready replacement, these helicopters will remain in service for the foreseeable future.

Perhaps the Sea Dragons would be happier if they were used to find sunken treasure instead of mines?

Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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Recent reports show that Chinese hackers were able to penetrate an American defense contractor and steal a substantial trove of data. Some of the information has since been released to the public. The name of the contractor is still being concealed, but among the projects revealed was one called Sea Dragon.

It appears that this is a new type of guided missile for America’s submarine fleet. Sea Dragon will be able to target ships, aircraft and other missiles at supersonic speed. Because of the speed, it’s believed that Sea Dragon is based on the currently existing SM-6 missile, which is launched from battleships. Upgraded capabilities include the ability to accept guidance data from a variety of Navy planes and spy-drones.

According to this report in Popular Mechanics, the Sea Dragon system was scheduled to begin testing later in 2018 and could have been deployed as early as 2020. Of course, now that the secret has been laid bare, we’ll have to see if the Navy continues development as planned.

Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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I mentioned on Wednesday that the taniwha of New Zealand were guardians to their own, but could be dangerous to outsiders. In fact, taniwha could be man-eaters as much as any other dragon. Many tales relate attacks by taniwha against humans they weren’t connected to. Luckily, there were warriors with enough spiritual prowess to defeat a rogue spirit, whether by use of wits or force of arms.

One taniwha, Nagarara Haurau, had devoured several villagers before capturing a young woman as his bride. He lived with her in a cave near the sea. The villagers pretended to accept him as their neighbor, and prepared a feast to honor him. During the festivities they ambushed and killed him. It’s said that Nagarara’s severed tail flew off and landed in a lake or stream. Prominent waterfalls in various locations are thought to have been created by the impact of Nagarara’s tail.

Another taniwha, named Kaiwhare, was preying on the people of Manukau. No one could stop him. There was a warrior named Tamure who lived in Hauraki and owned a magical club with power to defeat taniwha. The people of Manukau pleaded for help and Tamure came to them. Kaiwhare readily attacked, for Tamure was a stranger. They wrestled on the shore until Tamure bashed the taniwha over the head with his club. Kaiwhare was not killed, but he did become tame. This taniwha is still believed to live in the waters near Manukau. His diet now consists of octopus and crab.

Near Kaipara, three sisters were out gathering berries one day. As they returned, a taniwha fell upon them. He captured each in turn, finally selecting the loveliest one as his bride. (The fate of the other girls is unspoken. Perhaps he ate them.) The taniwha took the lucky (?) girl to his cave. As time passed, she bore him six sons. Three were taniwha, like their father, and three were human, like their mother. In secret, the captive mother taught her human sons to be warriors. The human sons eventually killed their taniwha brothers, and later their father. They then returned to their mother’s home with her.

Like their distant cousins, the mo’o of Hawai’ian tradition, taniwha could sometimes blur the line with humans. Tales tell of a “woman from the sea” named Pania, who married a human man. Their child was a taniwha. A priest named Te Tahi-o-te-rangi had served as a spirit medium for taniwha. He transformed into one of them after his death.

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Taniwha are nature spirits in the folklore of New Zealand’s Maori culture. They can appear as large sharks, whales, crocodiles — or dragons! According to legend, these spirits traveled alongside the canoes that carried Maori ancestors over the sea from their original islands. After the Maori established their new homes, the taniwha remained to watch over them. Even in modern times, many tribes and local communities can name a specific taniwha who is their guardian.

It was believed that taniwha granted visions to priests, warning of natural disasters or that enemies were nearby. However, taniwha could be both friendly or deadly. They made their homes in deep rivers, caves, and ocean shores prone to dangerous currents or sneaker waves. Friends of the taniwha might be guided away or rescued from drowning. In return, taniwha expected to be treated with respect. They received offerings of the first fruit each season. Even friendly tribesmen passing near a taniwha’s home would make offerings to please these spirits.

In addition to spiritual guardianship, taniwha were enforcers of tapu (commonly Anglicized as taboo), the social code governing Maori life. Violations of tapu would be met by swift retribution. So would any intrusion into the taniwha’s domain. Though they protected their own people, outsiders were fair game. Strangers might be dragged into the water or attacked and devoured. Women might be captured as brides.

Respect for the taniwha has remained strong even into modern times. Several news reports from the early 2000s related that construction projects had been moved or redesigned to avoid disturbing areas where taniwha were believed to dwell.

Check back on Saturday for a few taniwha legends.

Sign up for my newsletter and win a free E-book, The Weight of Their Souls. Just to go my Facebook page, AuthorDebyFredericks, and click the link on the left that says “Join my mailing list.” Easy, right?

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Humans of many cultures have looked to the night sky and found pictures among the stars, then spun tales of who or what these constellations represent. But those stories are all from the human perspective. Today I have a special guest, an actual dragon,* to share a dragon’s version of these star-stories.

Yes, hello. I am Tetheus, a sea dragon from the land of Aerde, and I’ve come to correct your silly human notions about the constellations. We sea dragons were swimming the deeps of Aerde for centuries before any of your kind put a canoe in the water. We know a thing or two.

Let’s start with some of the figures most commonly labeled as human. There’s the one you call “Orion the Hunter.” We dragons known it as The Knight, a warning of human aggression against dragons.

There’s another you call “Hercules,” a hero who slew the monstrous Hydra. Really? Just look at those arms and legs flailing — he’s obviously running for his life. That’s why we dragons know him as The Peasant.

Finally, there’s “Andromeda,” who’s allegedly being sacrificed — to a sea dragon, of all things. (I’ll have you know we sea dragons only eat fish!) In our telling, this is The Witch. Witches are often victims of human superstition. They think they’re sacrificing witches to us sea dragons, but we have found them to be excellent and faithful allies.

Well, that’s enough for now. Come back in a day or two, after my nap, and I’ll share more of our star-stories.

* Tetheus is a character in “The Dragon Stone,” one of the short stories in Lucy D. Ford’s upcoming collection.

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Not only are there dragons in space, thanks to the pioneering work of Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX. There also are dragons in the deep sea, courtesy of Graham Hawkes’s company, Deepflight.

Hawkes is a veteran designer of submarines, submersibles, and similar oceanographic equipment. He founded Deepflight in 1996 with the idea that people should have the ability to move around below the sea, just as we do in the air with small airplanes. As Hawkes states in his public appearances, the Earth is covered with oceans that have barely been studied. Deepflight aims to provide access for exploration, scientific research, and for average tourists who want to admire scenic vistas beneath the waves.

Unlike traditional submarines, which are intended to house humans and weapons while remaining under water for extended times, Deepflight’s craft are meant to submerge for a short time before returning to the surface. The company has developed a series of these “personal submarines,” the latest of which is called the Dragon.

Among several technical advances, Dragon submarines have a safety system allowing the craft to surface automatically in case of emergency. They have life support for up to 24 hours, for the same reason. Piloting is easy for anyone with just a little training, so you don’t have to join the Navy in order to have a beautiful undersea experience.

In the pictures I’ve seen, Dragon submarines appear rather like a drag-racing car, with stubby wings rather than wheels. There are domed seats for two people (pilot and passenger, presumably) so you can see all around you. Deepflight’s current plan is to market their Dragons to major resorts and tour operators, and also to the super-rich for their newest toys. The eventual hope is to bring prices down so that individuals can have private submarines the way we have private boats and cars.

It does sound like a pretty awesome experience, to soar undersea on the back of a dragon. If I was on a Caribbean vacation, I’m sure I would take that tour.

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