Two thirds of our planet is covered by water. The abundance of animals that inhabit the sea and live along the coastline are like unlike the animals that live on land. Mammals, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and echinoderms live in the ocean and along the coast. Shorebirds and seabirds find protected nesting areas along rocky cliffs and isolated islands. These creatures are found in myth and legend worldwide.
The seahorse, a fish, was believed to be the steed of Neptune, Poseidon, and other gods associated with the sea. Seahorses also carried the dead safely to the underworld. In Norse myth, the seahorse represented the power of the ocean. The Chinese regard them as the lesser sons of dragons.
sea urchin shell is called a "test"
See urchins, which are echinoderms, are a sun symbol because of their many spikes. The Celts called sea urchins “serpent’s egg”; a symbol of life-force and the primordial seed.
The starfish is also an echinoderm. With its five-rayed symmetry, it shares some of the same symbolism as the star. In Christianity, the starfish is representative of the Virgin Mary, and assures safe passage over dangerous seas and salvation from the treacherous waters of the world.
The crab, a crustacean, is the Buddhist symbol of the sleep of death; the time between incarnations. In Sumerian myth, the crab is associated with Nina, the Lady of the Waters.
The octopus, a mollusk, is a common Mediterranean symbol and is found as a decorative motif in Minoan and Mycenaean art. With its many tentacles, the shape of the octopus is related to the spiral and represents the unfolding of creation from the cosmic or mystic center. In its negative aspect, the octopus represents the spirit of the devil and hell.
Pelicans were thought to feed their young with their own blood and therefore symbolize sacrifice, charity, and piety in Christian belief. In alchemy, the pelican represents resurrection.
Seagulls are emblems of the sea and are a symbol of adventure. The albatross, a bird of tireless flight, symbolizes long sea voyages and distance distant seas.
(continued in Fin, Fur, and Feather Part 2)
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