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Mythological Sea Creatures from around the Globe

Eliza Chan

Let Fathomfolk author Eliza Chan introduce you to her twelve favourite mythological sea creatures from around the globe – spoiler alert, these all feature in Fathomfolk!


This dolphin shape-shifter harks from the rivers of China and is also nicknamed the Goddess of the Yangtze.



This relative of the manatee features in the folklore of many Southeast Asian and Pacific Island countries. Dugongs are gentle herbivorous creatures also known as sea cows and are purported to be the inspiration for mermaids.



Made the most famous of fairy-tale sea creatures by Danish author Han Christian Andersen, the mermaid is part woman, part fish.  Mostly commonly seen pining for legs and making dubious bargains with seawitches.



A shape-shifter from Slavic mythology, rusalkas have a duality both as fertility spirits and vengeful water nymphs who form when a young woman dies near water.



This large Korean water spirit is covered entirely in long strands of seaweed.



A diminutive creature from Japanese folklore with green-skin, webbed hands, turtle shell and plate-like indentation on their crown filled with water. Often overlooked due to their comical appearance, stories around kappa can also take a dark turn.



Half-human, half-serpent, these beings are part of the Hindu and Buddhist mythology across South and South-East Asia. These snake shape-shifters are semi-divine and commonly associated with rivers and rain.



These human-like singers of ancient Greek mythology are infamous for voices so beautiful they can charm men into drowning themselves. Why they would waste the time and energy doing so is another matter altogether.



This crocodile-headed god of Ancient Egypt is associated with fertility and military skills but is also notoriously ferocious and chaotic. Some would call him thick skinned.



Harking from numerous Asian mythologies including China, Japan, Korean and Vietnam, water dragons are associated with water and weather. These serpentine creatures are synonymous with royalty, power and wisdom. Sadly not all of their off-spring have inherited these traits.



A spirit from British folklore, the shellycoat haunts rivers and streams. The rattling sound of their coat of shells warns people of their approach.



These shape-shifters from Scottish mythology take the form of powerful horses around lochs and rivers. Equal parts mischievous and malevolent, it is unclear whose side the water horse is really on.

Fathomfolk is out 29 February 2024. Click here to find out more!