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Beware the Kraken

Updated on December 10, 2014
Release the Kraken!
Release the Kraken! | Source

Save us from the Kraken!

No Sea Monster was as terrifying as the Kraken!.

Its monstrous size often caused it to be mistaken for an island but, when curious mariners drew near, the grisly truth would be revealed.

The 'island' would erupt into a seething mass of multiple heads, horns and waving arms that could grasp and sink even the largest of ships.

The beast would attack a hapless vessel, wrap its arms around the hull and slowly capsize it. Those unfortunate souls who couldn't escape would be eaten by the monster.

Lord, save us from the Kraken!

The Kraken Attacks

Kraken attacking a ship
Kraken attacking a ship | Source

Norwegian Tales of the Kraken

The Norwegians knew the Sykraken, a frightening creature out of a nightmare, who lurked beneath the waves.

This Sea-Kraken, they said, was an enormous monster quite capable of pulling a ship and its crew under the sea in a single jerk.

In The Natural History of Norway, the 12th century Bishop of Bergen described the Kraken as a floating island measuring one and a half miles across.

It seems these are the creature’s arms, and, it is said, if they were to lay hold of the largest man-of-war, they would pull it down to the bottom.

Ulysses and the Kraken

Probably the first recorded mention of the Kraken is in The Odyssey, when the hero, Ulysses, had to navigate his boat past Scylla’s lair.

But we cannot mention Scylla without her sister, Charybdis!

Scylla and Charybdis were two immortal and irresistible monsters who beset the narrow waters of the Straits of Messina destroying ships as they attempted to navigate through.

The sea has always inspired the deepest respect from those who spend time upon it, for the dangers of shipwreck and drowning are manifold. In earlier times there was the added threat of monsters lurking in the depths to cast fear into the hearts of mariners.

Scylla and Charybdis

Scylla was dreadful with six heads, twelve feet and a voice like the howl of a maddened dog. She dwelt in a sea-cave looking to the west, far up the face of a huge cliff. Out of her cave she stuck her heads, fishing for marine creatures and snatching the sailors out of passing ships.

Within a bowshot of this cliff was another lower cliff with a great figtree growing on it. Under this second rock dwelt Charybdis, who thrice a day sucked in and thrice spouted out the sea water.

Odysseus had to sail through straits that are bracketed by these two monsters, and he had to choose a course which leads closer to one or the other.

One choice, Scylla, would lead to certain doom for six crewman, the other, Charybdis, posed a risk to the entire ship and crew.

Goodbye, Sailor

Between these rocks Odysseus sailed, and Scylla snatched six men out of his ship.

As Odysseus said :

Next came Chaybdis who swallows the sea in a whirlpool, then spits it up again. Avoiding this we skirted the cliff where Scylla exacts her toll. Each of her six slavering maws grabbed a sailor and wolfed him down.

Scilla Today


These dreadful monsters have become proverbial as a choice between equally dreadful alternatives but, once upon a time, they were a just a whirlpool, and a squid.

The Kraken in Jules Verne

In 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, the classic 19th century fantasy, Jules Verne describes the Kraken.

I looked in my turn, and could not repress a gesture of disgust. Before my eyes was a horrible monster worthy to figure in the legends of the marvellous. It was an immense cuttlefish, being eight yards long. Its eight arms, or rather feet, fixed to its head were twice as long as its body, and were twisted like the furies’ hair.

The monster’s mouth, a horned beak like a parrot’s, opened and shut vertically. Its tongue, a horned substance, furnished with several rows of pointed teeth, came out quivering from this veritable pair of shears. What a freak of nature, a bird’s beak on a mollusc!

Jules Verne Classic

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Giant Squid on Camera

The Kraken is a Giant Squid

These cephalods are very aggressive and sometimes rise to the surface where they are seen by modern sailors. Although giant squids are considerably less then a mile and a half across, they’re quite large enough to tackle a sperm whale and, on at least three occasions in the 1930s, attacked ships crossing the Atlantic.

While the squids got the worst of these encounters with ships fitted with propellers, the fact that they attacked at all shows that it’s possible for these creatures to mistake a vessel for a whale.

It’s no wonder early navigators had nightmares about these grisly giants. Imagine if a large squid, perhaps a hundred feet long and weighing two or three tons, attacked a small sailing ship.

The Real Kraken


The Kraken in 2013

Ocean Researcher, Edie Widder, shot footage of a giant squid in 2013.

"The color was utterly different than any of us expected. A lot of deep-sea squid are red. But this was a spectacular silver and gold. It just looks like it was carved out of metal, it's just completely breathtaking and completely unexpected."

How about you?

What would you do if you saw a Kraken?

See results

What do you think?

How many Giant Squids are still lurking beneath the waves?

Or have we slaughtered them all with billhooks,harpoons and plastic waste?.

There are many mysteries of the Deep and the Kraken is a legend from the past which may appear, again, at any time.

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water.

© 2014 Susanna Duffy


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    • VladimirCat profile image

      Vladimir 3 years ago from Australia

      That's a lot of calamari

    • profile image

      mumsgather 3 years ago

      I was really amused at your third voting choice and even more tickled to see that 27% had voted or it so far.

    • GO Cybernaut profile image

      Gayle B Olson 3 years ago from Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada

      Very interesting as Kraken winds a way through time and place.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 3 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Have read about the Kraken in numerous books, it does sound like a fearsome beast. Loved the BBQ option in the poll!

    • James-wolve profile image

      Tijani Achamlal 3 years ago from Morocco

      Very interesting,I've never heard of such thing called Kraken .Thanks for letting me know that and thanks for the coverage.Best wishes from Morocco !

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      Yes appropriate read for Squidooians! Loved this--you know in the picture of the Kraken and the sub from the movie--they look very similar--welcome to the hub!!

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 3 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Loved the comments from Rhonda, Marika and Sandy! My first attempt a hub, a giant squid.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 3 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      This seems appropriate for the giant squids from Squidoo to read.

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 3 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      We tease my husband that when gets angry he is releasing the kraken. :)

    • kislanyk profile image

      Marika 3 years ago from Cyprus

      From one giant squid to another...I feel small now...

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Really interesting, especially about the coloring of the "real life" giant squid.

    • boutiqueshops profile image

      Sylvia 3 years ago from Corpus Christi, Texas

      Yikes! Glad we only have sharks to worry about around here!

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Interesting. So this is what a giant squid really looks like.