Unsolved:Sea Swine

From HandWiki
Sea Swine
Porcus marinus (sea-hog) - Der naturen bloeme - Jacob van Maerlant - KB KA 16 - 119r a2.jpg
Porcus marinus (sea-hog) - miniature by Jacob van Maerlant
Similar entitiesPigs
Other name(s)Porcus Marinus

The Sea Swine (a.k.a. Porcus Marinus) was the name given to a variety of sea-dwelling or mythological creatures throughout history. The earliest mention of a 'sea swine' can be traced to ancient Greece. In this context, the name has been interpreted to mean 'porpoise', as a porpoise and pig have similar round body shapes.[1] However, this is disputed by some classical scholars who believe that the 'porcus' section of the name referred instead to grunts emitted from fish in question, not any physical similarities to the pig.[1]

The creatures appeared in the Carta marina, and were depicted in accompanying wood carvings, as fantastical beasts with four dragon's feet and a single eye at the navel.[2][3] The map placed the creatures as living in the waters south of Iceland.[2]

Additional accounts from the 16th and 17th century delineated the sea swine from more mundane sea creatures. The animals were described as "headed like a Hog, toothed, and tusked like a Boar".[4] The Sea Hogs were reported as travelling in packs with hundreds of individuals.[5][4] However, contemporary naturalist John Ray was explicit in stating that the sea swine and porpoise were one and the same.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Andrews, Alfred C. (1948). "Greek and Latin Mouse-Fishes and Pig-Fishes". Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 79: 243–244. doi:10.2307/283363. https://www.jstor.org/stable/283363. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Granlund, John; Crone, G. R. (1951). "The "Carta Marina" of Olaus Magnus". Imago Mundi (Imago Mundi, Ltd.) 8: 35–43. doi:10.1080/03085695108591977. 
  3. Fort, Tom (July 29, 2017). "REVIEW --- Books: The Thing That Should Not Be". Wall Street Journal: p. C9. ISSN 00999660. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Pell, Daniel (1659). Pelagos. Nec inter vivos, nec inter mortuos, neither amongst the living, nor amongst the dead. Or, An improvement of the sea, upon the nine nautical verses in the 107. Psalm. London: Livewell Chapman. 
  5. Schweitzer, Christoph (1700). Mr. Schewitzer's voyage to the East-Indies. London: D. Brown. 
  6. Ray, John (1671). "An Account of the Dissection of a Porpess, Promised Numb. 74; Made, and Communicated in a Letter of Sept. 12 1671, by the Learned Mr. John Ray, Having therein Observ'd Some Things Omitted by Rondeletius". Philosophical Transactions (The Royal Society) 6: 2274–2279.