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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

by Jules Verne

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Part 1 Chapter 1 Summary

A Shifting Reef

  • Something weird went down in 1866. Something so weird that there's no question you and everybody else you know still remember it.
  • Sailors were disturbed, sea captains too, and even the governments of the world started to take notice.
  • You see, a lot of ships—too many ships—had started to encounter some sort of mysterious thing. It was long and spindle-shaped, and sometimes it even glowed.
  • Nobody knew what it was. It was way bigger and faster than any whale, and those who had seen it gave exaggerated reports of it In short, nobody knew anything, really, except that it was giant and quick and scary. Oh, and it was out there, waiting. Waiting for you.
  • On July 20, 1866, the Governor Higginson, a steamship, sees something that looks like a strange reef… until it shoots water one hundred and fifty feet up into the air. A couple of days later, another ship observes a similar phenomenon seven hundred nautical leagues away. This thing, whatever it is, is seriously fast.
  • Two weeks and two thousand leagues later there's another incident. At this point, the big international players—England, the USA, and Germany—are getting pretty worked up.
  • People get to some serious gossiping and speculating. Maybe it's Moby Dick. Maybe it's a sea monster. Scientists and journalists argue vehemently about it (business as usual, really), but by 1867 the question seemed settled. Whatever "it" was, it seems to have stopped making trouble. Or not.
  • In March 1867, The Moravian, a passenger ship, struck an unidentified rock and suffered some major damage. Three weeks later, a ship from the British Cunard Line—the company that launched the ill-fated Titanic 45 years later—was involved in a similar accident.
  • The odd thing was, it seemed as though the ship, The Scotia, hadn't hit anything. Instead, something seemed to have rammed into it and punched a neat little hole right in its side.
  • This incident got everyone up in arms. Any and every sea-related disaster was now pinned on the great sea monster, and the public called for someone to put an end to the beast's reign of terror.

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