The belief in the kraken has existed among sailors of the Scandinavian seas since the earliest of times. He was first described as a gigantic whale, and later as a gigantic squid.
In Natural History of Norway, written by Erik Pontoppidan, the Danish historian and Bishop of Bergen, the kraken is described as the largest sea monster in the world, when he rises from the depths only a small portion of his body shows above the surface but that small part is over a mile in circumference, when he begins to submerge a great whirlpool is created that carries everything nearby down with it, including large ships.
The kraken is most likely to surface in calm weather or on hot summer days. At first he appears as a number of small islands surrounded by undulating sea weeds, then his arms appear and stretch upward sometimes as high as the mast of a mid-sized ship.
His tentacula are so great that he can grab hold of the largest man-of-war (the most powerful type of armed ship in the 16th century) and pull it to the bottom.
The kraken has the ability to release a strong scent that attracts other fishes to it in hoards, the scent is created by a process in his digestion. The fish gather and swim directly above him, then when he gets hungry he simply reaches up, grabs an armful and swallows them, then as they are digested more of the scent is produced and more fish are attracted.
Fishermen can always tell when a kraken is near because of the swarms of fish that collect above it.
Pontoppidan believed that kraken sightings were responsible for the stories of floating islands that were often reported in the North Sea. Floating islands have also been said to be giant sea turtles and whales.
Pliny, the author of Naturalis Historia, describes a similar creature so vast that when it spread its arms in the Straits of Gibraltar ships were unable to pass.
Also known as the Kraxen, or Krabben.
See Also:Creatures by Type » Sea Monsters
Chambers, William, & Chambers, Robert. Chambers's Pocket Miscellany. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, and Co., 1854.
Jardine, William. The Naturalist's Library, Volume 8. Edinburgh: W. H. Lizars, 1839.
Sandford, Daniel Keyte, & Thomson, Thomas, & Cunningham, Allan. The Popular Encyclopedia. Glasgow: Blackie & Son, 1836.