Sea Lore of the Atlantic
For many of the early civilizations, the Atlantic was part of a vast unknown ocean encircling the world, a sea associated with chaos and death. The Arabs called it The Sea of Gloom or The Sea of Darkness and depicted it with the Hand of Satan rising up from its waters. The 11th century, geographer al-Biruni wrote of it, “here there are many ways of losing oneself.” Many considered it unnavigable with its rough weather and windless stretches, patches of dense fog, seaweed, ice and slush, and then there were the monsters swimming in its waters. There was a long-held theory, going back to at least the first century with Pliny the Elder’s Natural History, that every land animal has an equivalent in the ocean. There were thought to be sea dogs, sea cows, sea pigs, etc.. Some of these are now the names of real animals—sea lions, sea horses, sea cucumbers.