A zaratan is a gigantic sea turtle with a back like rough stones, he floats still on the open ocean for so long that sand brought by the winds begins to collect and spread across his back, then trees and small shrubs begin to grow.
Sailors approaching the zaratan see great rocks, green plants, and a sandy beach, so believing him to be an island, they land and drop anchor, but when they light their fires the monster sinks beneath the waves, dragging down the ship and drowning them all.
Erik Pontoppidon, the Danish historian, believed that these floating islands were actually sightings of the kraken, which is similar to the zaratan in several ways.
When a zarartan is hungry he opens his mouth wide and releases a sweet smell, fish are attracted to the odor and swim in, when his mouth is full he snaps his jaws shut.
Alternatively described as a giant whale or a great fish that strives night and day to bring his tail to his mouth but cannot because he is so large.
Also known as Jasconye, Jascon, Jasconius, Gasconius, Jaskconius, Iastoyn, Yeson, Fastitocalon, Aspidochelone, and Asp Turtle.
See Also: Creatures by Type » Sea Monsters
Cynewulf. Translated by James Hall Pitman, & Albert Stanburrough Cook. The Old English Physiologus. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1821.
Jardine, William. The Naturalist's Library, Volume 8. Edinburgh: W. H. Lizars, 1839.
The Catholic Historical Review, Volume 6. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America, 1921.