Beware the Kraken: The History of the Kraken


The Kraken by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber'd and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

A Creature From Norwegian Mythology

While it might be assumed that the story of the Kraken came from Greek Mythology, The original mention of the the Kraken stems from Norse encounters.  The Stories of the Kraken might sound made up, but the Kraken is most often referred to in a Natural Histories sort of way.  Most of the stories tell of the Kraken and what it looks like, the most impressive feature is the size of the creature.

What Does Kraken Mean?

The word kraken is a Norwegian word.  It uses the main word "krake" which means something twisted in or an unhealthy animal.  A kraken like creature is first mentioned in the Old Icelandic saga Örvar-Oddr rom the late-13th-century.  As the Heroes go through the Greenland Sea, and here they spot the Hafgufa  or "sea mist".  From the description in the story it seems to be the first account of the Kraken.  After that account, the Kraken was then mentioned in Norwegian scientific journals.   The term kraken is first found in print in Systema Naturae by Carolus Linnaeus in 1735.

What does the Kraken look like?

Out of all the Sea Monsters that where mentioned throughout history, none of them is as terrifying as the kraken.  The kraken was so large that it was often mistaken for land.  In the Natural History of Norway the kraken is described as the largest sea monster in the world.  Some of the original stories of the kraken was described to be a large crab.  In other tales the creature was described ans an animal with many twisting arms that could pull down a ship, a giant octopus like creature.  A whirlpool would appear if a kraken dove down or breached the surface.   In 1802, the creature encountered by Norwegian sailors was named the kracken octopus.

Is the Kraken really the Giant Squid?

The Kraken is often accepted to be what we know as the giant squid.  The giant squid is the biggest invertebrate on Earth. Because their home is the deep ocean, they are a hard species to track and understand.  The largest of these elusive giants ever found measured 59 feet in length and weighed nearly a ton.  While bodies of the Giant Squid washed ashore from time to time, it was only in 2004 that a live giant squid was caught on film.  

The Kraken is alive and well my friends... Beware.