The Kraken is one of the most fearsome and famous legendary sea monsters to terrorize sailors on the high seas. This beast is often described as a gigantic cephalopod-like creature. It resembles an enormous octopus or giant squid with many strong tentacles. In some Scandinavian stories, the Kraken terrorizes ships and sailors, dragging crews to the bottom of the sea. Other Norse sagas and folk tales say that the Kraken causes whirlpools that capsize ships. Sometimes, Krakens are described as huge, smelly beasts which draw fish to the surface. In all of these tales, Krakens are large and formidable.
Official Kraken sightings were first recorded in the waters surrounding Norway, Greenland, and Iceland over 800 years ago. Accounts of the Kraken are sometimes accompanied by drawings showing the monster to be around 50 feet in length. The sheer size and fearsome appearance of the Kraken make it one of the most terrifying and impressive mythical sea monsters of all time!
The Kraken Has a Long History
Stories of the Kraken can be traced as far back as 1200 AD. However, other sea monster stories that do not specifically name the Kraken can be traced even further back. One particularly well-known Kraken story comes from old Norwegian folklore. In this account, the Kraken was sighted in the Greenland Sea by a group of sailors who all claimed they saw the same thing.
With this in mind, the legend of the Kraken may have originated from actual sightings of giant squids or other extremely large cephalopods. Blue whales or humpback whales may also have been mistaken as Krakens. Indeed, people have been telling tales of terrifying gigantic sea monsters for nearly as long as they have been sailing!
Krakens Were Thought to Devour Ships and Sailors Alike
According to legend, the Kraken lives in the deepest parts of the ocean. When ships pass by on the surface, the Kraken will attack and drag entire vessels underneath the waves. It was believed that the Kraken would then devour the ship, crew, or both. Kraken attacks were once used to explain the disappearances of ships and crews on long sea voyages. Krakens were also thought to be the cause of small fishing boat disappearances, bad ocean smells, surges of fish, and more.
The Kraken is a Norse Beast
The Kraken can be traced back to various ancient Norweigan texts. In the oldest Nordic accounts of the Kraken, Örvar-Oddr and his son came into contact with two such beasts while crossing deep waters off of the coast of Noway. While peering across the waves, they saw these beasts clearly and were terrified by their size and fearsome appearance. When they returned home, they reported what they experienced to those who would listen. In time, the legend became well known.
The story of Örvar-Oddr was written down in the historic Konungs Skuggsjá, an educational Norweigan text. These beasts were first called Kraken sometime around this era. Other sightings of similar Kraken-like beasts followed and were written down as well. Thus, the legend was born.
Kraken Means Octopus in German
Kraken actually comes from the Norwegian word Krake, which is closely related to the German word for Octopus. It makes sense that this word would be chosen to describe such a massive octopus-like beast. The Kraken is said to have many tentacles and possess great strength and flexibility.
Many Different Kraken Descriptions Exist
Since the late 18th century, Kraken monsters have been depicted in many ways. The Kraken is usually drawn or painted as a large octopus-like creature. In the earliest folklore, Kraken monsters were drawn with appendages similar to crabs. These early accounts described Kraken beasts with spindly spines and what resembled armor. Other Krakens were described as whale-like monsters. Still, other Kraken monsters were like humongous squids with giant teeth, shelled backs, and horrible spiked appendages.
This is Undoubtedly a Gigantic and Terrifying Monster
Sailors were terrified of the Kraken due to its massive size. This monster was much bigger than most boats of the time. Even the largest Norse ships were thought to be no match for the Kraken. It is said that a Kraken could take hold of a ship and drag it to the bottom of the sea with ease in less than a minute. Some Kraken stories described monsters up to a mile and a half long! Other tales say the Kraken is the length of 10 ships. One thing is for sure, the Kraken is a big beast.
Sailors Claimed There Were Signs of a Coming Kraken Attack
If a Kraken were about to attack a ship, sailors claimed that signs would foretell the coming calamity. For instance, if fish began surging to the surface and leaping out of the water, sailors believed that a Kraken was likely on the way. Alternatively, gurgling bubbles or an abundance of jellyfish would sometimes be considered signs of a nearby Kraken.
Other signs of the Kraken were large waves, bad weather, schools of fish fleeing from an area, or all of the above. Even though these signs were said to precede the Kraken, ships would not have enough time to escape. The speed and size of the Kraken made it a difficult beast to evade.
Evidence of Kraken Monsters Does Exist
Some bones have been found that suggest some type of Kraken monster may once have existed. Indeed, the Kraken may still exist! After all, over 80% of the earth’s oceans have yet to be mapped. Various sea creatures have yet to be discovered.
Additionally, Ichthyosaur bones have been discovered in strange patterns on the ocean floor and fossil records. These bones look like gigantic octopus kills. Since the Ichthyosaur grows to be 66 feet long, an Octopus would have to be very large indeed to hunt and eat one. Scientists even found one Ichthyosaur skeleton with a ribcage cracked from constriction. It was as if a large tentacle had been wrapped around the Ichthyosaur, crushing it and dragging it down. For this to be possible, a very large octopus must really have existed at one time.
The Kraken Lacks Magical Powers
Unlike many mythological creatures, the Kraken is not known for possessing any magical powers. It can not fly, shoot lightning, or control the weather. Although this beast does not have any supernatural abilities, its aggressive nature and sheer size make it a creature to avoid at all costs. With that in mind, the Kraken is said to create dangerous whirlpools when it dives. These whirlpools were supposedly large enough to sink a ship.
Somtimes Kraken Creatures Travel Together
In some legends, more than one Kraken would be spotted at the same time. Whether these creatures were dwelling together or just happened to be encountering one another is unknown. Some waters were said to be very dangerous to sail over because there were many Kraken beneath.
The Kraken is Still Famous Today
Even today, the Kraken is famous in popular culture. This monster is mentioned in books, poems, movies, television shows, and more. Since there really are gigantic squid-like animals and octopuses in the ocean, the Kraken is a mythological creature that may not be a myth after all. Only time will tell!
There Are Many Accounts of the Kraken from Around the World
Stories of the legendary Kraken have been passed down from generation to generation. Many famous painters have depicted Kraken-like Monsters rising up from the deep. In paintings, the Kraken can be seen reaching its long tentacles around the masts of helpless ships. After the Kraken wraps its tentacles around a ship, the vessel would presumably capsize and sink to the bottom of the ocean.
Odysseus and the Six-Headed Sea Monster
In the story of Greek king Odysseus, there is a tale of one giant sea monster with six heads. Known as Scylla, this was a supernatural female creature. She had 12 feet and six heads on long, snake-like necks. This creature may well have been a Kraken-like monster, with the heads and necks actually being tentacles.
Historic Kraken Records
In 1752, a “History of Norway” was written. In this historical account, a monster described as the Kraken is listed as the most terrifying sea monster in the entire world. The earliest records of the Kraken had lots of details about its size, shape, and even its fishy smell. Tales with notes about “starfish type protuberances” on the Kraken can be found from scholars describing its long pointed arms. These detailed accounts suggest that a monster once existed near Norway.
A Kraken as Big as an Island
Another legend has it that a Kraken attacked a ship, but the sailors managed to fight it off. Unfortunately, when the Kraken dove back into the sea, it created a whirlpool so large it capsized the vessel. It has also been said that early sailors who encountered a Kraken would mistake the gigantic creature for an island and sail toward it!
Stories of Sailors Using the Kraken to Help Catch More Fish
With this in mind, not all legends are filled with horror. There are a few accounts of Kraken creatures being helpful to sailors. Early Norwegian sailors were said to seek Krakens to fish near. This was because the scent and presence of a Kraken drew fish to the surface. Despite the danger, fishing near a Kraken could lead to a better catch.
Although we will probably never know the truth about the Kraken described in Norse folktales, one thing is certain: this is a fascinating monster with a legendary reputation. Whether the Kraken actually exists or is simply the stuff of myth, we may never know. Either way, this mythical sea beast is awe-inspiring and larger than life!
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