“Ketôs from Greece, Taniwha from New Zealand, Jörmungandr from Scandinavia and Iceland, Tiamat from Babylon, Bakunawa from the Philippines... the list goes on. Some fierce, some loyal, some shrouded in mystery, these water-dwelling dragons live far and wide across the world.”
—A History of Dragons: The Truth in Mythology by Ailuv Drah Gonz
Scientific name: Draco aequor.
Diet: Omnivorous. Usually sea plants or animals. Occasionally land creatures.
Life span: Around 250 years.
Size: Varies. May reach 35 metres in length.
Colour: Often blues, greens, browns or greys.
Notable features: Gills. May have frills or spines.
The rippling sea dragon is the most plentiful dragon species in the world. Records of these dragons exist in many forms— in rock art, ceramics, dance and poetry, on maps and in tales from every continent of the world. They are perhaps the most diverse of dragons, with traits and colouration displaying differently across the species. They have a long serpentine shape, with smooth skin. This allows them to glide through water, creating the gentle ripples that give them their name. Some have fin-like frills or spiked ridges along their spines. These often serve as a form of camouflage, as does the dragons’ colouring. This generally reflects the region where they live. For example, a rippling sea dragon living amongst seaweed or kelp may be deep green with frills. Conversely, a dark grey dragon with spines could remain concealed among choppy waters and jagged rock.
Many believe rippling sea dragons existed long before humanity; evidence suggests they may even be the oldest type of dragon. Some of the oldest known serpentine fossils are believed to be a close ancestor of the rippling sea dragon. This may be a common ancestor shared among rippling sea dragons and many other, if not all, dragon species. The similarities are evident—the burrowing sand dragon shares the rippling sea dragons’ long serpentine shape, the metamorphosis dragon shares their capability to live in water, and the gnawing tree dragon shares many of their camouflage techniques. Conversely, dragons such as the stone dragon and feathered storm dragon may have developed legs and wings to ensure survival on land.
Sightings of rippling sea dragons are far more numerous than what can be outlined here. These are not just confined to the ocean; many lakes, dams and rivers may also be inhabited by these dragons, such as the famous rippling sea dragon that lives in Scotland’s Loch Ness. In many cultures, tales of frightening rippling sea dragons were used to warn children away from the waters’ edge. However, these tales seem to be based more on the dangers of the water itself than of the dragons; they are generally peaceful creatures, unless provoked. Public interest in the dragons peaked in the 19th century, particularly in the US and Europe, as expeditions set out to observe and study the dragons. This obsession resurged in the 1960s when famous band The Coleoptera released their hit song about a rippling sea dragon:
“Picture yourself in a boat on the ocean
With cerulean seas under lavender skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
Dragon with kaleidoscope eyes
Cellophane frills of purple and green
Rustling over her head
The sea dragon with the stars in her eyes
Then she’s gone
Lucy the rippling sea dragon...”
When interviewed about the song, band member Len Johnnon remarked:
“My son adored dragons as a child. One day he came home with this swirling pastel painting. He told me it was Lucy the rippling sea dragon. There was something truly beautiful about seeing such a magnificent creature through the eyes of a child. And I knew I had to write a song about it.”
The popularity of the rippling sea dragon and their presence across the world has earned them a place as a modern symbol of unity. However, I would suggest that dragons as a whole may be one step better. Stories of dragons have existed from the birth of humanity, across cultures and continents. They’re filled with war and peace, fear and love, horror and beauty. Dragons and their stories are as diverse as humankind, and there is room in this world for them all. What could be more unifying than that?