The Legendary Kraken
According to the Scandinavian mythology, the Kraken is a horrifying giant sea creature (said to be 1 mile long) that attacks ships and is generally described as an octopus or squid. According to some tales, the Kraken was so huge that its body could be mistaken for an island. It is first mentioned in the Örvar-Oddr. This is a 13th century Icelandic saga involving two sea monsters , the Hafgufa (sea mist) and the Lyngbakr (heather-back). The Hafgufa is supposed to be a reference to the Kraken.
Around that time (circa 1250), another report about the Kraken was documented in the Norwegian scientific work Konungs skuggsja work. It said that only two existed because they could not reproduce and would need so much food that they could not survive. It goes on to describe the Kraken’s feeding habits, claiming that it would trap the surrounding fish by stretching its neck with a belch releasing food from its mouth. The fish would be lured by the food and would enter the Kraken’s mouth to feed. As a result, vast quantities of them would be trapped.
The Kraken was also mentioned in the first edition of Systema Naturae , a taxonomic classification of living organisms by the Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist Carolus Linnaeus . He classified the Kraken as a cephalopod, designating the scientific name Microcosmus marinus. Although any mention to Kraken was omitted in later editions of the Systema Naturae, Linnaeus described it in his later work, Fauna Suecica , as a "unique monster" that "is said to inhabit the seas of Norway, but I have not seen this animal".
Although the Kraken was usually described as a giant octopus or squid , it has also been described as a "crab-like" creature. It was believed to cause large whirlpools. The Swedish author Jacob Wallenberg described the Kraken in the 1781 work Min son på galejan ("My son on the galley") as follows:
"Gradually, Kraken ascends to the surface, and when he is at ten to twelve fathoms, the boats had better move out of his vicinity, as he will shortly thereafter burst up, like a floating island, spurting water from his dreadful nostrils and making ring waves around him, which can reach many miles. Could one doubt that this is the Leviathan of Job?"
The Kraken was said to lie at the bottom of the sea and surface in search of food or when disturbed, probably by a large ship.
The myth of the Kraken is believed by many historians to have originated from the giant squid. The giant squid can reach 18 meters in length and has been rarely seen by humans as it lives in very deep waters.
Top image: The Kraken by MaBuArt