Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Where are all the sea serpents?

Breaking waveIs it just me or do sea serpents not get reported much these days? I thought about sea serpents straight away when I saws this photo (right). If you look at the object in the middle of this sea view, it appears to be a large, sinuous 'thing' snaking through the surf, water streaming off it. The 'serpent' appears thicker towards the left, slimming towards the top right corner of the frame.

So what is the 'serpent'? If this photo was doing the rounds of the internet, with no background details, who knows what people might make of it. And that's a central problem with anomalous photos. They are an instant snapshot of a scene. Without context it can be difficult to interpret what is really being shown. And the context is often lost because the 'anomaly' is only noted when the photo is examined some time after it was taken. That means the photographer must rely on their memory to recall the background details and that is not always a reliable process.

Luckily, with this particular photo the background IS known. The 'serpent' is actually a breaking wave near to a beach on a very windy day. Without this information it might be assumed that the photo was taken away from a beach making the wave more suggestive of a large sinuous object surfacing from the deep. Incidentally, this is not a cropped photo, so there is no beach to be seen even in the original larger version. Interpreting anomalous photos often relies not just on a technical knowledge of photography but on some experience of the subject in view.

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