Originally of Norwegian and Icelandic legend, the Kraken is described as a giant, tentacled monster that rises from the deep. In the earliest legends, the Kraken resembles an island feeding on schools of fish. Bold fishermen would set their lines above the Kraken, catching the huge schools of fish that surround it. In these earliest stories, the danger to ships was not from the Kraken itself, but from the whirlpool formed when it dives.
From those early stories, the Kraken evolved into a global terror. depicted either as a giant octopus or giant squid, the Kraken found its way into literature, film, and modern cryptozoology. Krakens have been blamed for many ghost ships, disappearances in the Bermuda triangle, they have even been hypothesized as guardians of the lost continent. Krakens even have their own brand of rum.
What earns the Kraken our esteem as the number 1 sea monster is not the mythology surrounding this creature, but the reality. Whereas with the other six sea monsters we’ve pontificated on what they could really be, for the Kraken, there’s little debate.
These are not your Humboldt squid (although for reasons that escape me, the media often refers to Humboldt squid as ‘giant’ squid). These giants are the undisputed kings of the invertebrate world. It is not difficult to imagine an ancient mariner seeing one of these beasts and declaring it a monster.
Somehow I doubt that many ships were ever sunk by one of these creatures. Even in the modern era, they are elusive and difficult to catch, but it only takes one or two sightings to start a chain reaction.
Are these really the Kraken? Perhaps. The only thing larger than the ocean is the human imagination. It only takes a few sparks of inspiration from the natural world for us to create monsters of myth. The Kraken could have just as easily emerged from the mind of a mariner watching an octopus crawl out of a fishing net, or a couple of market squid washed ashore.
How many of our monsters emerge from someone thinking “wouldn’t that be awesome if it were 30 meters tall?”
~Southern Fried Scientist