Hand-coloured woodcut showing various sea monsters1550

by Sebastian Münster

This hand-coloured woodcut shows various sea monsters, taken from the 1550 German edition of Sebastian Münster’s Cosmographia. A gathering of hypothetical sea creatures are depicted in the woodcut. A giant lobster is drawn entrapping a doomed sailor in its claws. Another shows a massive serpent entwined around a galleon. A galleon is drawn attempting to outrun a tusked, twin-spouted serpent, by throwing their cargo overboard, while one sailor aims a musket. 

Tales of sea monsters terrified early sailors and explorers. Accounts of these creatures also inspired cartographers and mapmakers, who used images of these fabled monsters to decorate their maps, indicating unexplored areas or dangerous oceans.