Call of the Cryptid: The Ayia Napa/Scylla sea monster of Cyprus!


Is the Ayia Napa sea monster of Cape Greco, Cyprus anything more than a tourist attraction? Let’s look at the lack of evidence and find out!

[NOTE:  This article uses the famous picture of “Nessie,” or the Loch Ness Monster partly because no picture of the Ayia Napa sea monster exists.]

To begin with, it’s difficult to find new information on the Ayia Napa sea monster. Almost every site discussing it says the same things (a pretty standard problem for cryptid research). So, oddly enough, I have little choice to be lazy on this no tags — unless I want to save up cash and take a special trip to Cyprus for a monster hunting expedition!

Also, if you’re not very familiar with Greek culture and history (like myself), it’s certainly easier to get lost in an already confusing story. Even the general location of the monster is cryptic! Cape Greco is at the south end of Famagusta Bay, and Famagusta is considered part of the de facto “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.” According to the Famagusta Gazette, the government had actually searched for the creature, but didn’t find anything for their efforts. One may debate the merits of doing this with taxpayer money, but it’s also hard to blame them. A sea monster hunt sounds exciting.

It leads to the big question:  If the Greek cape is pretty well monitored still has tourists, why is it so hard to find any pictures of the alleged sea monster? Also, the accounts of its appearance are so conflicting as to make one’s head spin!

The Ayia Napa sea monster is said to look like a crocodile or a serpent, or maybe a crocodillian serpent.  It’s also been tied to the mythical sea monster of Greek mythology called Scylla — often depicted as a creature with a maiden’s body with several dog heads sprouting from her body! Honestly, even something like an Octophant (8-headed elephant) sounds more plausible than than the Scylla (cool though it may be). And, hey, why not give honorable mention to South Park’s ManBearPig?

Anyway, this is a myth not taken very seriously by most, so you probably won’t find many “with us or against us” hostilities. In fact, the creature itself is not considered dangerous. The worst claim is that, on some occasions, it might tear a person’s fishing net, or something like that. Changes/fixes to the story may eventually make it dangerous, but the Ayia Napa sea monster is sometimes called “To Filiko Teras,” or the friendly monster (which sets people up for an ironic monster experience). There aren’t any accounts like you’ll read about “The Rake,” where a strange creature breaks into people’s homes and attack their children! Nope, this is more like a happy Cyrpus “Nessie.”

Could such a monster be nice? Really?

A view of the Loch Ness Monster, near Inverness, Scotland, April 19, 1934.  (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

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Could a sea monster be nice?  This is an interesting question, as sea monsters could presumably have mood shifts, just like any other animal (or person). Personally, I imagine the Ayia Napa sea monster having a moody day and flipping over a large sea vessel accordingly, telling its hapless and disrespectful crew: “That’s what you get for calling me fat!” Then it might retreat into the depths and pout for a while.  Then again, I am weird sometimes.

More seriously, though, while researching this creature I found an interesting story about the Orinoco crocodile of Villavicencio, Colombia. Noted by croc biologist Frederico Medem, the Orinoco crocodile belonged to a doctor in Villavicencio as a pet. It’s said that it was house trained, and that it played with children and the family dog. A heartwarming mental picture is drawn: “This crocodile liked to come into the house and lie in front of the fire on cool winter evenings.” This makes it sound possible for a monstrous-looking creature to be downright gentle, or function as a household pet. Seriously, I’ve known fiercer sounding family dogs than Orinoco!

Also, even when they are fierce, there are crocodile pet accounts like this: “…A 5.1 m-long male saltwater crocodile (named Sweetheart) attacked the propellers of the outboard motors of a number of boats, overturning them and their occupants but never attacking the people in the water. It is thought that Sweetheart was probably reacting to the sound of the propellers, which he may have mistaken for another crocodile within his territory.” Granted, no one’s likely to have the Ayia Napa as a pet, as it probably doesn’t really exist. Still, if it did exist, it could very well be mild mannered.

Male and female/Legend

I kind of hate to get Freudian on this, but what can I say? It’s interesting how the Ayia Napa sea monster myth merges male and female characteristics together. Obviously, for whatever reason, some people link it with a maiden (female) form. However, the multiple heads (sometimes) attributed to it seem to denote a type of “Phallism” (and I’ll let you guess what that means). I mean, what are the odds of a creature having so many long, snake-like heads? To me it sounds almost like a fertility deity monster, or something like that.

Still, what’s with the humanizing aspect? It’s nothing new to associate women with sea creatures, or other myth-monsters. The Greek monster Medusa would be an obvious example, as well as the Japanese Akkorokamui. However, I wouldn’t say these are all very much alike. They just have some similarities, finding themselves in the same tradition. I think some give the Ayia Napa sea monster ancient roots to tie it to the past. There’s an appeal in linking a present-day”monster” to the good ol’ days. Still, I wouldn’t place this creature in the “non-fiction” section of the proverbial hall of cryptids.  It sounds too mythical and touristy to me.

These accounts do have some impact on our culture. For example, there’s apparently another term for choosing between two evils: “Between Scylla and Charybdis” (with Charybdis being some other type of monster). It’s not an expression I heard before researching this thing, but I guess some say it. We also get things like Clash of the Titans and monster-hunting tourist dollars. Also, the Scylla also reminds me of King Ghidorah, from the Godzilla universe! Just look at it’s appearance!

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That’s it for this Call of the Cryptid! What are your thoughts on the Ayia Napa/Scylla sea monster? Let us know in the comments!