Most of us have at least some knowledge of legendary dark-fantasy author Howard Phillips Lovecraft, who still seizes readers’ imaginations with a sense of absolute doom and dread in the face of vast, unknowable horrors… but unlike most horror authors who live well-adjusted lives, Lovecraft battled mental and physical illness throughout his short time on earth, and was plagued by nightmares and irrational fears. Unfortunately, those included xenophobia and, sadly, outright racism, but also among them was a lesser-known but overwhelming fear and revulsion toward all sea creatures: “I have hated fish and feared the sea and everything connected with it since I was two years old,” he once wrote.
Channeling his demons into elaborate mythologies, Lovecraft spun horrific tales of tentacled horrors from distant stars and undersea gods worshiped by scaly fish-human beings, basing many characteristics of dark gods like Cthulhu and Dagon on the anatomies of squid, octopus and starfish. If H.P. were alive today to witness the surreal, spectacularly bizarre sea creatures that have been discovered over the last century – especially the aquatic horrors I’ve described below – I suspect he might have gathered his composure and quietly uttered, “I knew it all along…”
*Image Credits: Colossal Squid – New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries Lion Jellyfish – Yomiuri Shimbun Sea Cucumber – PlanetOddity.com Sunflower Star – Ground Truth Trekking