Real-Life Mysteries by Susan Martineau and Vicky Barker

This winner of the Blue Peter Book Awards is a thrilling read for anyone who likes a mystery! Each chapter looks at strange cases on a similar theme (such as UFOs or spooky curses) then it presents theories, possible explanations and further evidence so that you can make up your mind what you think really happened. The following extract might make you think twice about swimming in deep waters!

Monsters of the Deep – unsolved mysteries!

For as long as people have sailed the seas there have been tales of gigantic monsters or sea serpents that rear up out of the waves. Are we any closer to finding out what might be lurking down in the depths?

In 1848 HMS Daedalus was sailing in the South Atlantic Ocean when Captain Peter M’Quhae and six of his crew spotted an enormous creature swimming past the ship. The mysterious beast was about 19 metres (60 feet) long with a large snake-like head that it held high above the waves. The monster was dark brown with a yellowish white throat and seemed to have a kind of shaggy mane along its back.

In 1905 two members of the Royal Zoological Society reported another strange sighting off the coast of Brazil. They saw a large fin or frill sticking out of the water with a great big head and neck in front of it. They could also see the shape of an enormous body under the water.

San Francisco Bay in the USA also seems to have something mysterious living in the water. On 5th February 1985, brothers Bill and Bob Clarke spotted an 18-metre (60-foot) long, snake-like beast chasing seals. It was moving its body up and down, making humps in the water. They could also see its yellowy underbelly and a fan-shaped fin.

The Kraken is the name given to a terrifying sea monster that makes an appearance in many traditional old tales of the sea. Is it possible that a Kraken exists in real life?

In March 1941 a group of British sailors was on a life raft in the South Atlantic Ocean. They were attacked by jellyfish and sharks, but worse was to come. An enormous creature rose up out of the depths, grabbed a sailor in its powerful tentacles and dragged him into the sea. This scary monster and the Kraken of the stories might be some kind of gigantic squid. These deep-sea creatures do exists, although not much is known about them. They have huge grasping tentacles and arms equipped with suckers and hooks. They definitely sound like the sort of squid that would have you for dinner!

Case File Notes – Main Theories

People are mistaking creatures like whales, eels, seals, sharks or oarfish for sea serpents. Oarfish can grow up to 11 metres (36 feet) long.

Sea serpents might be some sort of animal left over from the ancient past. Perhaps it is a marine dinosaur!

The prehistoric coelacanth (seel-uh-kanth) was thought to have been extinct until a fisherman pulled one up from the depths in 1938.

We only know a tiny fraction about life in the oceans, so it is possible that there is an amazing beast like a sea serpent.

Nessie’s Cousins?

The famous Loch Ness Monster is said to lurk in the extremely deep Loch Ness in Scotland. Many people say they have sighted and even photographed the beast. Some believe that it is possible that it is a type of dinosaur called a plesiosaur. Others say that all the photos and sightings are hoaxes.

‘Nessie’ might not be the only lake-lurking monster in the world! ‘Selma’ lies in Lake Seljordsvatnet, Norway. It is a hump-backed, black creature with a long body. Underwater sonar equipment has detected moving objects that may be 18 metres (60 feet) long. ‘Ogopogo’ lives in Lake Okanagan, Canada. In 1974 a vast undulating creature bumped into a swimmer.

‘Mokele Mbembe’ lives in the swamplands of the Congo in Africa. It is a strange dinosaur-like creature that seems to be able to walk on land too.



  1. Can you find 3 pieces of evidence that suggest that the creature seen by Captain M’Quhoe and Bill and Bob Clarke were a similar species?

  2. According to the Clarke brothers and the swimmer in Lake Okanagan, how do these creatures move?

  3. How are these creatures similar to a snake?

  4. How are these creatures different to a snake (especially with regard to their movement?)

  5. Why has the author enclosed the text seel-uh-kanth in parenthesis?

  6. In the section about Nessie’s Cousins, find and copy a word that suggests that some people are lying when they claim to have seen these creatures.