Search for the Legendary Kraken


Modern estimates suggest that more than eighty percent of the world's oceans have never been mapped or explored. Is the legendary Kraken just waiting to be discovered?
(Image credit: Bigstock/Estteban)

A Mythical Sea Monster

Any great and lasting myth is always lightly dusted with golden flakes of truth, and it's probably no different when it comes to the famous legend of the Kraken sea monster. The Kraken, also called the Krabben and Skykraken, has been described in Nordic folklore as a nightmarishly huge cephalopod creature that touted its penchant for the destruction of large ships and lustful appetite for human flesh.

The first written account of this sea monster was in 1180 and relayed by King Sverre of Norway. Folklore claimed that the monster attacked by encircling passing ships--and sometimes entire fleets--with its enormous body, and then dragged them under the waves. This action created a whirlpool, so that anything else that might have survived the initial attack would also be sucked down into the water. What could have possessed those from so long ago to believe in such a creature?

Just an Exaggeration?

Past documented sightings of the giant squid (from the genus Architeuthis) probably offers the most rational explanation. With approximations employed in years past instead of a standardized measuring system, the numbers associated with the size of the giant squid were no doubt exaggerated over time. You can find artwork that details the Kraken with thick, lengthy arms that were said to have the ability to completely encompass a large fishing vessel.

The idea of running into the Kraken made any Nordic fisherman's blood run cold, as it was also stated it could eat an entire crew with one swallow. It has been said that the creature was observed to be in excess of 15.8 meters in length, but there is no way to know if there is any truth to this measurement. Most modern-day sightings of the giant squid place the size at a much smaller length. Abnormally large squid have been found recently, but hardly of "monstrous" proportions.

A few things have added to the mystery that surrounds the debate over the existence of a sea creature like the Kraken. A major contributor to continued belief in the Kraken and curiosity about other legendary sea creatures demonstrates just how little we actually know about our world's oceans. It's not an exaggeration to say that we don't know very much at all about the wide expanse and enormous depths of the sea, as well as the creatures that live in it. Modern estimates suggest that more than eighty percent of our oceans have never been mapped or explored.


Miles beneath the surface, the ocean contains an unfathomable number of unknown creatures and mysterious phenomena.
(Image credit: Bigstock/raspirator)

Another reason for the perpetuation of the Kraken myth is the danger and risk associated with deep sea travel, especially back in times without GPS or even radio. In the age of technology, we can better predict storms, monitor sea swells, and stay on top of problems that can jeopardize a ship. Anomalous areas of the ocean like the Bermuda Triangle, where an unusual number of ships and planes have gone missing, continue to stoke the modern imagination and remind us of just how mysterious the ocean can be.

Mythical stories of the Kraken are beginning to resurface and circulate since recent sightings of the giant squid were documented in both pictures and video. The 2015 Christmas Eve sighting of a 12 foot long giant squid in a harbor in Japan set the world buzzing with terrified tales of the potential for sea monsters that could be even larger. The May 2017 capture of one of these creatures measuring 19 feet in length in the waters off Ireland are fueling a resurgence of the tales of old.

It's increasingly difficult to laugh off the possibility of the Kraken when there is now sound scientific evidence of unusually large giant squid. Perhaps there are even larger species of squid living in the depths of our dark, cold and unexplored oceans, just waiting to be discovered. Until we begin to explore more areas of ocean, the existence of a massive Kraken-like squid might still be a very real possibility.