A Date with the Monster
My Moscow acquaintance, Fyodor Prokopovich, told me about the Ayia Napa monster. A couple of years ago he was vacationing in Cyprus in Ayia Napa. This place attracted Fyodor because he is a diver. And here, near Cape Greco, the sea and wind have carved huge underwater caves in the coastal cliffs for thousands of years.
Fedor, an extreme diver by nature, decided to explore some of them. He had, of course, heard that it was near Cape Greco that the notorious monster was most often seen; perhaps it lives in these caves. But our Muscovite did not believe these tales for a penny. He reasoned as follows: according to the Cypriots, any self-respecting body of water must have its own monster. So they decided that their Mediterranean Sea was certainly cooler than some Scottish Lake Loch Ness, and got their own monster with a richer pedigree than Nessie's.
Again, an extra lure for tourists, although they are already attracted to the golden sand of the famous beaches and the gentle blue waters of the Mediterranean. If Fyodor could have guessed that he would soon come face to face with this "legend"!
The case was as follows. One morning Prokopovich went on a boat to Cape Greco. The weather was fine: not a single cloud in the sky and the sea - complete calm. It was perfect for scuba diving, admiring the beauties of the seabed. But Fedor was beckoned by mysterious caves. We anchored not far from them. Prokopovich put on a scuba diver and went underwater, and the master of the ship remained waiting for him on board.
Swimming among the corals, scaring away the merry flocks of colorful fish, the scuba diver was approaching the dark yawn of the cave, visible in the rock. Suddenly a crocodile's face peeked out of the hole... the muzzle of a crocodile and stared at Fedor with its huge black eyes. Prokopovich was so taken aback that he almost let out his mouthpiece. He was more surprised than frightened. After all, a crocodile is a freshwater animal. Where did it come from in the sea?
Meanwhile, the "crocodile" came out of the cave and slowly swam to the scuba diver. And then Fyodor saw how huge it was - ten meters in length or even more. And it's not a crocodile at all! The body is thick, barrel-shaped, like a pig. On its back there's a lamellar crest. And the tail is like a dolphin's. Prokopovich looked at it later. And at that moment he saw only the open mouth with huge, sharp teeth.
Then fear gripped Fedor so tightly that he could not move a hand or a leg. He realized that the end had come for him. And the beast calmly swam past, giving him a slight nudge with its rough, scaly side!
Anyway, Fyodor had no recollection of how he got aboard the boat. And then he could not come to his senses for a long time. But the most frustrating thing was that when he told tourists and locals about the incident, everyone thought he was making up a fairy tale.
A torn net
Only one local fisherman named Zopyros believed him. It turns out that he too "had the good fortune" to be intimately acquainted with this monster. One day Zopiros went out to sea with his adult sons. Finding a decent shoal of khamsa, the fishermen cast a net and began to trawl. And suddenly the tackle was so torn that they almost fell into the sea.
At first, the fishermen thought they had caught a big shark. They began to select the net, gradually pulling it toward the vessel. And then they saw something huge in it. Then the water foamed up and the head of the monster came to the surface on a long elastic neck.
The monster hissed angrily at the fishermen, clucked its toothy mouth and disappeared into the abyss, carrying the scraps of net. Fishing was out of the question. The fishermen hastily dropped anchor and headed home at full speed.
Fish-eating lizard Whether it was or not, the descriptions of the monster seen by Prokopovich and Zopyros do not match. Prokopovich's monster looks more like a crocodile, while the Cypriot encountered something resembling a dinosaur, a relative of Nessie. So, either one of them is lying (if not both of them), or fear knows no bounds. It is impossible that two different monsters live unnoticed off the coast of a densely populated island! And if the monster does live in the waters of the Mediterranean, why does not it touch people? Perhaps it prefers a fish diet or, in general, feeds exclusively on algae.
But it wasn't always this way. The Cypriots identify their monster with the legendary Scylla, in ancient times devouring any sailor who had the care to approach its rock. In the Odyssey Homer describes the monster in this manner. The rock of Scylla rose high with its sharp top to the sky and was forever covered with dark clouds, access to it was impossible because of its smooth surface and steepness. In the middle of it, at a height inaccessible even to an arrow, there was a cave with a dark vent facing west: it was the dwelling place of the terrible Scylla. It had twelve legs and six long, elastic necks, each with a head protruding from the other.
Its jaws were jagged and sharp, with three rows of gnarled teeth. Peering out of the cave, it stalked its prey with all its head, pawing around the rock and catching dolphins and other sea animals. When a ship passed by the cave, Scylla, with all her mouths open, snatched six people from the ship at a time. That's how she ate the six companions of Odysseus.
As we can see, the Ayia Napa monster is not very similar to Homer's Scylla. However, perhaps, the great blind man simply overdid it, giving in to his truly boundless imagination. Or maybe Scylla has evolved for the better in the meantime? Or is it her descendant?
In some ancient Greek myths, Scylla appears as a beautiful girl. Glaucus, the sea deity, sought her love. But the sorceress Kirka herself was captivated by Glavk. Such a love triangle was formed. The sorceress decided to destroy her rival. She poisoned the water in the place where Scylla used to bathe. As a result, the girl became a ferocious beast, her beautiful body disfigured.
According to another myth, this transformation was committed by Amphitrite, the wife of the sea god Poseidon, who found out that her hubby had made Scylla his lover, and got rid of her rival in the same brutal way. But a lot of water has flowed since then. The Olympic gods have died, or their influence has been reduced to naught. So the spells they cast have lost their effect. And what if the reverse process of Scylla's transformation from monster to beauty had begun? That would explain the metamorphosis and the change in diet.
Inhabitants of underwater tunnels It is only unclear why there are still no clear pictures and other convincing evidence of the existence of the Ayia Napa monster. It would seem that there is not a single unexplored area in the Mediterranean, and there is simply nowhere for such a giant to hide. Except maybe underwater caves. Although divers have explored them quite thoroughly, there are still nooks where they cannot or dare not penetrate.
There is a hypothesis that there are huge cavities filled with water in the bowels of the planet. They stretch for many thousands of kilometers. And it is possible that prehistoric life is preserved in these caverns. Why not suppose that sometimes lizards leave their habitat and come out to our world, and at the first signs of attention to their person they go into underwater tunnels? And, for example, Nessie may well make a voyage to the shores of Cyprus, and the Mediterranean monster to surface somewhere in Ladoga. And if the Ayia Napa monster is just a myth, a tourist attraction, what's wrong with that? It's more fun to live that way!