The Kraken is a legendary sea monster that lives in the waters off Norway and Greenland. The legend itself may have originated from sightings of giant squid that can grow 40 – 50 feet in length. It was classified as a cephalopod and given the scientific name Microcosmus marinus by Carolus Linnaeus in 1735.

In 1746 he called it Singulare monstrum meaning a unique monster.

In 1752-1753 bishop of Bergen, Erik Pontoppidan, described the Kraken as sometimes being mistaken for an island and that the real danger was not from the creature but from the whirlpool that was left when it submerged.

In 1830 Alfred Tennyson wrote a sonnet called “The Kraken,” describing the massive creature:

“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 seaworms 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.”

The Kraken has been described mainly as similar to a large octopus, with some earlier descriptions being crab-like. Some traits of the Kraken include releasing bubbles of water, creating sudden dangerous currents, and the appearance of new islets.”

The Kraken would attack a ship by wrapping its arms or tentacles around the hull capsizing it. The crew would either drown or be eaten by the monster.

The Kraken is often mistaken for an island because it can remain motionless at the surface of the ocean. Fisherman said that large amounts of fish were believed to swim near the Kraken and if they were able to fish without waking the monster, they would have a very successful catch.

A thirteenth century saga tells the tale of a hafgufa that is believed to be a reference to the Kraken. It says the hafgufa is the greatest monster in the water. It swallows men, ships, and whales. The nose and jaws appear as rocks in the ocean.

The Kraken has also appeared in numerous other books, films, television, games, postage stamps, a rum product and a rollercoaster ride.

Most notable appearances:

1870 novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

1964 episode of the series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

1981 film Clash of the Titans as well as the remade version in 2010.

2000 rollercoaster named Kraken opened at SeaWorld Orlando.

2006 movie Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep.

2006 movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

Image Caption: Kraken beast attacks merchant ship. Credit: Pierre Denys de Montfort/Wikipedia