The kraken (/ˈkrɑːkən/)[1] is a legendary cephalopod-like sea monster in Scandinavian folklore of giant size. According to the Norse sagas, the kraken dwells off the coasts of Norway and Greenland and terrorizes nearby sailors. Authors over the years have postulated that the legend may have originated from sightings of giant squids that may grow to 13–15 meters (40–50 feet) in length. The sheer size and fearsome appearance attributed to the kraken have made it a common ocean-dwelling monster in various fictional works. The kraken has been the focus of many superstitious sailors passing the North Atlantic and especially sailors from the Nordic countries due to their close proximity and its Scandinavian origin. Throughout the centuries the kraken has been a staple part of sailors' superstitions and mythos being heavily linked to sailors ability of telling a tall tale.

Colossal octopus by Pierre Denys de Montfort
Pen and wash drawing of a colossal octopus by malacologist Pierre Dénys de Montfort, 1801


The English word kraken is taken from the Swedish[2] and Norwegian language.[3] In both Norwegian and Swedish Kraken is the definite form of krake, a word designating an unhealthy animal or something twisted (cognate with the English crook and crank).[4] In modern German, Krake (plural and declined singular: Kraken) means octopus, but can also refer to the legendary kraken. Kraken is also an old Swedish euphemism for whales, used when the original word became taboo as it was believed it could summon the creatures.[2][5]


20000 squid holding sailor
An illustration from the original 1870 edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

The famous Swedish naturalist Carl von Linné included the kraken in the first edition of its systematic natural catalog Systema Naturae from 1735 . There he gave the animal the scientific name Microcosmus , but omitted it in later editions. In the late-13th-century version of the Old Icelandic saga Örvar-Oddr is an inserted episode of a journey bound for Helluland (Baffin Island) which takes the protagonists through the Greenland Sea, and here they spot two massive sea-monsters called Hafgufa ("sea mist") and Lyngbakr ("heather-back").[a][b] The hafgufa is believed to be a reference to the kraken:

Carta Marina
First detailed map of the Nordic countries the Carta marina by Swedish ecclesiastic Olaus Magnus from 1539 shows a series of sea creatures in the waters between Norway and Iceland.

[N]ú mun ek segja þér, at þetta eru sjáskrímsl tvau, heitir annat hafgufa, en annat lyngbakr; er hann mestr allra hvala í heiminum, en hafgufa er mest skrímsl skapat í sjánum; er þat hennar náttúra, at hon gleypir bæði menn ok skip ok hvali ok allt þat hon náir; hon er í kafi, svá at dægrum skiptir, ok þá hon skýtr upp hǫfði sínu ok nǫsum, þá er þat aldri skemmr en sjávarfall, at hon er uppi. Nú var þat leiðarsundit, er vér fórum á millum kjapta hennar, en nasir hennar ok inn neðri kjaptrinn váru klettar þeir, er yðr sýndiz í hafinu, en lyngbakr var ey sjá, er niðr sǫkk. En Ǫgmundr flóki hefir sent þessi kvikvendi í móti þér með fjǫlkynngi sinni til þess at bana þér ok ǫllum mǫnnum þínum; hugði hann, at svá skyldi hafa farit fleiri sem þeir, at nú druknuðu, en hann ætlaði, at hafgufan skyldi hafa gleypt oss alla. Nú siglda ek því í gin hennar, at ek vissa, at hún var nýkomin upp.[6]

Now I will tell you that there are two sea-monsters. One is called the hafgufa [sea-mist[a]], another lyngbakr [heather-back[a]]. It [the lyngbakr] is the largest whale in the world, but the hafgufa is the hugest monster in the sea. It is the nature of this creature to swallow men and ships, and even whales and everything else within reach. It stays submerged for days, then rears its head and nostrils above surface and stays that way at least until the change of tide. Now, that sound we just sailed through was the space between its jaws, and its nostrils and lower jaw were those rocks that appeared in the sea, while the lyngbakr was the island we saw sinking down. However, Ogmund Tussock has sent these creatures to you by means of his magic to cause the death of you [Odd] and all your men. He thought more men would have gone the same way as those that had already drowned [i.e., to the lyngbakr which wasn't an island, and sank], and he expected that the hafgufa would have swallowed us all. Today I sailed through its mouth because I knew that it had recently surfaced.

After returning from Greenland, the anonymous author of the Old Norwegian natural history work Konungs skuggsjá (circa 1250) described in detail the physical characteristics and feeding behavior of these beasts. The narrator proposed there must be only two in existence, stemming from the observation that the beasts have always been sighted in the same parts of the Greenland Sea, and that each seemed incapable of reproduction, as there was no increase in their numbers.

There is a fish that is still unmentioned, which it is scarcely advisable to speak about on account of its size, because it will seem to most people incredible. There are only a very few who can speak upon it clearly, because it is seldom near land nor appears where it may be seen by fishermen, and I suppose there are not many of this sort of fish in the sea. Most often in our tongue we call it hafgufa ("kraken" in e.g. Laurence M. Larson's translation[7]). Nor can I conclusively speak about its length in ells, because the times he has shown before men, he has appeared more like land than like a fish. Neither have I heard that one had been caught or found dead; and it seems to me as though there must be no more than two in the oceans, and I deem that each is unable to reproduce itself, for I believe that they are always the same ones. Then too, neither would it do for other fish if the hafgufa were of such a number as other whales, on account of their vastness, and how much subsistence that they need. It is said to be the nature of these fish that when one shall desire to eat, then it stretches up its neck with a great belching, and following this belching comes forth much food, so that all kinds of fish that are near to hand will come to present location, then will gather together, both small and large, believing they shall obtain their food and good eating; but this great fish lets its mouth stand open the while, and the gap is no less wide than that of a great sound or bight, And nor the fish avoid running together there in their great numbers. But as soon as its stomach and mouth is full, then it locks together its jaws and has the fish all caught and enclosed, that before greedily came there looking for food.[8]

Kraken were extensively described by Erik Pontoppidan, bishop of Bergen, in his Det første Forsøg paa Norges naturlige Historie "The First Attempt at [a] Natural History of Norway" (Copenhagen, 1752).[9][10] Pontoppidan made several claims regarding kraken, including the notion that the creature was sometimes mistaken for an island[11] and that the real danger to sailors was not the creature itself but rather the whirlpool left in its wake.[12] However, Pontoppidan also described the destructive potential of the giant beast: "it is said that if [the creature's arms] were to lay hold of the largest man-of-war, they would pull it down to the bottom".[11][12][13] According to Pontoppidan, Norwegian fishermen often took the risk of trying to fish over kraken, since the catch was so plentiful[14] (hence the saying "You must have fished on Kraken"[15]). Pontoppidan also proposed that a specimen of the monster, "perhaps a young and careless one", was washed ashore and died at Alstahaug in 1680.[13][16] By 1755, Pontoppidan's description of the kraken had been translated into English.[17]

Swedish author Jacob Wallenberg described the kraken in the 1781 work Min son på galejan ("My son on the galley"):

Kraken, also called the Crab-fish, which is not that huge, for heads and tails counted, he is no larger than our Öland is wide [i.e., less than 16 km] ... He stays at the sea floor, constantly surrounded by innumerable small fishes, who serve as his food and are fed by him in return: for his meal, (if I remember correctly what E. Pontoppidan writes,) lasts no longer than three months, and another three are then needed to digest it. His excrements nurture in the following an army of lesser fish, and for this reason, fishermen plumb after his resting place ... Gradually, Kraken ascends to the surface, and when he is at ten to twelve fathoms, the boats had better move out of his vicinity, as he will shortly thereafter burst up, like a floating island, spurting water from his dreadful nostrils and making ring waves around him, which can reach many miles. Could one doubt that this is the Leviathan of Job?[18]

In 1802, the French malacologist Pierre Dénys de Montfort recognized the existence of two kinds of giant octopus in Histoire Naturelle Générale et Particulière des Mollusques, an encyclopedic description of mollusks.[19] Montfort claimed that the first type, the kraken octopus, had been described by Norwegian sailors and American whalers, as well as ancient writers such as Pliny the Elder. The much larger second type, the colossal octopus, was reported to have attacked a sailing vessel from Saint-Malo, off the coast of Angola.[11]

Montfort later dared more sensational claims. He proposed that ten British warships, including the captured French ship of the line Ville de Paris, which had mysteriously disappeared one night in 1782, must have been attacked and sunk by giant octopuses. The British, however, knew—courtesy of a survivor from Ville de Paris—that the ships had been lost in a hurricane off the coast of Newfoundland in September 1782, resulting in a disgraceful revelation for Montfort.[14]

Appearance and origins

Since the late 18th century, kraken have been depicted in a number of ways, primarily as large octopus-like creatures, and it has often been alleged that Pontoppidan's kraken might have been based on sailors' observations of the giant squid. The kraken is also depicted to have spikes on its suckers. In the earliest descriptions, however, the creatures were more crab-like[16] than octopus-like, and generally possessed traits that are associated with large whales rather than with giant squid. Some traits of kraken resemble undersea volcanic activity occurring in the Iceland region, including bubbles of water; sudden, dangerous currents; and appearance of new islets.

In popular culture

Denys de Montfort Poulpe Colossal
Kraken attacking merchant ship,1810

In 1830 Alfred Tennyson published the irregular sonnet The Kraken,[20] which described a massive creature that dwells at the bottom of the sea:

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.

In Herman Melville's 1851 novel Moby-Dick (Chapter 59. Squid.) the Pequod encounters what chief mate Starbuck identifies as: "The great live squid, which, they say, few whale-ships ever beheld, and returned to their ports to tell of it." Narrator Ishmael adds: "There seems some ground to imagine that the great Kraken of Bishop Pontoppodan [sic] may ultimately resolve itself into Squid." He concludes the chapter by adding: "By some naturalists who have vaguely heard rumors of the mysterious creature, here spoken of, it is included among the class of cuttle-fish, to which, indeed, in certain external respects it would seem to belong, but only as the Anak of the tribe."[21] Pontoppidan's description influenced Jules Verne's depiction of the famous giant squid in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea from 1870.

See also


Explanatory notes
  1. ^ a b c "sea-reek" and "heather-back" (Edwards & Pálsson 1970, Ch. 21, p. 69).
  2. ^ The episode occurs in the late fourteenth century text (Edwards & Pálsson 1970, p. xxi), and in codices ABE from 15th century, and ca. 1700 (Boer 1888, p. 132).
  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary (Second ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. 1989.
  2. ^ a b "krake". Svenska Akademiens ordbok (in Swedish).
  3. ^ "kraken". The Free Online Dictionary.
  4. ^ "krake". Bokmålsordboka (in Norwegian).
  5. ^ Terrell, Peter; et al. (Eds.) (1999). German Unabridged Dictionary (4th ed.). Harper Collins. ISBN 0-06-270235-1
  6. ^ Boer 1888, p. 132
  7. ^ Larson 1917, p. 125
  8. ^ Keyser, Munch & Unger 1848, Chapter 12, p. 32
  9. ^ Pontoppidan, Erich: Det første Forsøg paa Norges naturlige Historie, Copenhagen: Berlingske Arvingers Bogtrykkerie, 1752.
  10. ^ Pontoppidan, Erich: Versuch einer natürlichen Geschichte Norwegens (Copenhagen, 1753–54).
  11. ^ a b c Hamilton, R. (1839). The Kraken. In: The Natural History of the Amphibious Carnivora, including the Walrus and Seals, also of the Herbivorous Cetacea, &c. W. H. Lizars, Edinburgh. pp. 327–336.
  12. ^ a b [Anonymous] (1849). New Books: An Essay on the credibility of the Kraken. The Nautical Magazine 18(5): 272–276.
  13. ^ a b Sjögren, Bengt (1980). Berömda vidunder. Settern. ISBN 91-7586-023-6 (in Swedish)
  14. ^ a b "Kraken". Encyclopædia Metropolitana; or, Universal Dictionary of Knowledge . 21. B. Fellowes, London. 1845. pp. 255–258.
  15. ^ Bringsværd, T.A. (1970). The Kraken: A slimy giant at the bottom of the sea. In: Phantoms and Fairies: From Norwegian Folklore. Johan Grundt Tanum Forlag, Oslo. pp. 67–71.
  16. ^ a b "Kraken". Encyclopædia Perthensis; or Universal Dictionary of the Arts, Sciences, Literature, &c.. 12 (2nd ed.). John Brown, Edinburgh. 1816. pp. 541–542.
  17. ^ The London Magazine, or, Gentleman's Monthly Intelligencer Vol. 24 (Appendix, 1755). pp 622–624.
  18. ^ Wallenberg, J. (1835). Min son på galejan, eller en ostindisk resa innehållande allehanda bläckhornskram, samlade på skeppet Finland, som afseglade ifrån Götheborg i Dec. 1769, och återkom dersammastädes i Junii 1771. (5th ed.). Elméns och Granbergs Tryckeri, Stockholm. (in Swedish)
  19. ^ Denys de Montfort, Pierre (1801–1805). Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière des mollusques. Paris: L'Imprimerie de F. Dufart. pp. 256–412 – via Biodiversity Heritage Library.
  20. ^ "The Kraken" (1830). The Victorian Web.
  21. ^ "Index of /files/2701".


  • Boer, Richard Constant, ed. (1888). Ǫrvar-Odds saga. E.J. Brill. p. 132.
  • Rafn, Carl Christian, ed. (1829). Örvar-Odds saga. Fornaldarsögur Norðurlanda. 2. Copenhagen: Enni Poppsku. pp. 248–249.
  • Keyser, Rudolph; Munch, Peter Andreas; Unger, Carl Rikard, eds. (1848). "12". Speculum regale. Konungs-skuggsjá. Christiana: Carl C. Werner. p. 32.
  • Edwards, Paul; Pálsson, Hermann (translators) (1970). Arrow-Odd: a medieval novel. New York University Press.
  • Larson, Laurence Marcellus, ed. (1917). The King's Mirror: (Speculum Regalae - Konungs Skuggsjá). New York: Twaine Publishers / American-Scandinavian Foundation. pp. 119–.

External links

Browser speed test

A browser speed test is a computer benchmark that scores the performance of a web browser, by measuring the browser's efficiency in completing a predefined list of tasks. In general the testing software is available online, located on a website, where different algorithms are loaded and performed in the browser client. Typical test tasks are rendering and animation, DOM transformations, string operations, mathematical calculations, sorting algorithms, graphic performance tests and memory instructions.

Browser speed tests have been used during browser wars to prove superiority of specific web browsers. The popular Acid3 test is no particular speed test but checks browser conformity to web standards (though it checks whether a general performance goal is met).

Clash of the Titans (1981 film)

Clash of the Titans is a 1981 British-American heroic fantasy adventure film directed by Desmond Davis and written by Beverley Cross which retells the Greek mythological story of Perseus. It stars Harry Hamlin, Judi Bowker, Burgess Meredith, Maggie Smith and Laurence Olivier. The film features the final work of stop motion visual effects artist Ray Harryhausen. It was released on June 12, 1981 and grossed $41 million at the North American box office, which made it the 11th highest-grossing film of the year. A novelization of the film by Alan Dean Foster was published in 1981.

Warner Bros. released a 3D remake on April 2, 2010.

Clash of the Titans (2010 film)

Clash of the Titans is a 2010 American-Australian action adventure fantasy film and remake of the 1981 film of the same name produced by MGM (the rights to which had been acquired by Warner Bros. in 1996). The story is very loosely based on the Greek myth of Perseus. Directed by Louis Leterrier and starring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, and Ralph Fiennes, the film was originally set for standard release on March 26, 2010. However, it was later announced that the film would be converted to 3D and was released on April 2, 2010.Clash of the Titans grossed $493 million worldwide, though it received generally negative reviews from critics and received two Golden Raspberry Awards nominations. The film's success led to a sequel, Wrath of the Titans, released in March 2012. A third film titled Revenge of the Titans was in development but later cancelled due to Wrath of the Titans' disappointing box office performance.

Judge Kraken

Judge Kraken is a fictional character in the Judge Dredd comic strip featured in the long-running British comic 2000 AD. Although he only appeared in a few episodes, he was nonetheless a very important character in Tale of the Dead Man, in which he was given almost equal billing with Dredd, and in the epic story Necropolis, in which he actually replaced Dredd as the lead character in the first half of the story. Kraken first appeared by name in 2000 AD #583 (July 16, 1988).

Kraken (Marvel Comics)

Kraken is a name or title shared among several characters in Marvel Comics. While the original Kraken is the creature of the same name, the rest have been people who have used the name as their persona. The creature and one of the characters has appeared in other media.

Kraken (Pirates of the Caribbean)

The Kraken is a fictional sea monster in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. The monster made its first appearance in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest as an antagonist portrayed through computer-generated imagery (CGI). Although a creation of Industrial Light & Magic for Dead Man's Chest and designed by the film's producers, this Kraken derives from the eponymous mythical creature. Walt Disney Pictures also became the first studio to produce this creature using CGI. The Kraken makes a small, symbolic appearance in the third film in the series, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.In the films, the Kraken is a sea creature of monstrous proportions, controlled by Davy Jones, often to destroy ships that threaten him. Various pronunciations are made of the name: Kevin McNally (Joshamee Gibbs) pronounced it as KRAK-ən, so that pronunciation was adopted on the set. In Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, Jack later refers to the Kraken as "beastie".

Kraken (company)

Kraken is a US-based cryptocurrency exchange operating in Canada, and the US.

Kraken provides Bitcoin pricing to the Bloomberg Terminal. In April 2017, according to reports, Kraken launched fiat funding options to transfer denominated US dollars and government-issued currencies.Throughout 2017, the Kraken exchange suffered from DDoS attacks and performance issues. In November 2017, Kraken CEO Jesse Powell apologized for the site issues, but praised security, citing its impeccable record.

On 10 January 2018, Kraken suspended trading for over 48 hours while it performed an upgrade which was intended to take only 2 hours. Since first opening in 2011, this was the longest interruption to service.

Kraken (novel)

Kraken is a fantasy novel by British author China Miéville. It is published in the UK by Macmillan, and in the US by Del Rey Books. The book bears the subtitle "An Anatomy" on the title page. It was the winner for the 2011 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel.

Miéville has described the book as "a dark comedy about a squid-worshipping cult and the end of the world. It takes the idea of the squid cult very seriously. Part of the appeal of the fantastic is taking ridiculous ideas very seriously and pretending they’re not absurd."

Kraken (roller coaster)

Kraken Unleashed (named for the fictional sea monster of the same name) is a steel floorless roller coaster located at SeaWorld Orlando in the United States. Manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard, the ride features a total of seven inversions including two vertical loops, a dive loop, a spiraling camelback (zero-g roll), a cobra roll, and a corkscrew. Kraken opened on June 1, 2000. It is also the world's second longest floorless coaster elongating up to 4,177 feet (1,273 m). The roller coaster has been refurbished and renamed to Kraken Unleashed with virtual reality. However as of 2018 fall season, the name Kraken Unleashed has remained, but the virtual reality experience is no longer available.

Kraken Mare

Kraken Mare is the largest known body of liquid on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan. It was discovered by the space probe Cassini and was named in 2008 after the Kraken, a legendary sea monster.

Kraken botnet

The Kraken botnet was the world's largest botnet as of April 2008. Researchers say that Kraken infected machines in at least 50 of the Fortune 500 companies and grew to over 400,000 bots. It was estimated to send 9 billion spam messages per day. Kraken botnet malware may have been designed to evade anti-virus software, and employed techniques to stymie conventional anti-virus software.In April 2008, Damballa released instructions for removing Kraken malware from computers and a list of IPs that are part of the Kraken botnet. The list shows that on April 13, 2008, there were 495,000 computers in the Kraken botnet.

Kraken in popular culture

Although fictional and the subject of myth, the legend of the Kraken continues to the present day, with numerous references existing in popular culture, including film, literature, television, video games, and other miscellaneous examples (e.g., postage stamps, a rollercoaster ride, and a rum product).

Section23 Films

Section23 Films (legal name "SXION 23, LLC") is an American multimedia distributor specializing in anime and Japanese films. Founded in 2009, Section23 Films is one of five successors to ADV Films, as well as the distributor for Sentai Filmworks and Switchblade Films. ADV had announced that it had sold its assets to a group of companies, including Section23, on September 1, 2009. The company is based in Houston, Texas.

The Kraken Wakes

The Kraken Wakes is an apocalyptic science fiction novel by John Wyndham, originally published by Michael Joseph in the United Kingdom in 1953, and first published in the United States in the same year by Ballantine Books under the title Out of the Deeps as a mass market paperback. The title is a reference to Alfred Tennyson's sonnet The Kraken.

The Umbrella Academy

The Umbrella Academy is an American comic book series created and written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá. The first six-issue limited series, The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite, was released by Dark Horse Comics, between September 14, 2007, and February 20, 2008. It won the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Finite Series/Limited Series. A second series, The Umbrella Academy: Dallas, followed in 2008. The first issue of a third series, The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion, was released on October 3, 2018. A proposed fourth series is in development. On February 15, 2019 a television adaptation premiered on Netflix.


In the fictional universe of Warhammer 40,000, the Tyranids are a race and a playable army in the tabletop miniatures wargame.

The Tyranids are aliens from outside the galaxy who have come to devour all life, one planet at a time. They are collectively controlled by a highly intelligent hive mind which can not be reasoned with. Tyranids come in diverse forms, each individual having been engineered to fulfill a specific role. All of their technology is biological, named in the Universe as biomorphs due to their components being alive.

USS Kraken (SS-370)

USS Kraken (SS-370), a Balao-class submarine, was a ship of the United States Navy named for the kraken, a legendary sea monster believed to haunt the coasts of Norway.

Kraken commissioned in September 1944 and saw action during the last year of World War II, serving in the Pacific Theater and making four war patrols. In 1946 she was placed in reserve.

In 1959 Kraken was transferred to the Spanish Navy as Almirante García de los Reyes. She was scrapped in 1982.

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