Photo Manipulation by RKNTV - Sources: Flickr via creative commons

The storm had appeared out of nowhere as they traversed the Aegean sea.

The lochagos shouted out commands to rally their spirits, but the din of the crashing waves and the rolling thunder drowned him out. In their struggles against the tempest, and they were just now holding on for dear life.

The captain’s eyes widened when something slammed upon the stern of the ship. The force of the impact was jarring enough to send half of the crew flying.

To their horror; the men saw exactly the one thing any sailor wouldn’t want to see in waters this rough – a gigantic tentacle.

One other long appendage rose amidships and came crashing down on them, and broke the trireme in half.

The last thing one of the oarsmen saw when they crashed into the chaotic waters, was the tip of a very large beak.

Photo Manipulation by RKNTV – Sources: Flickr via creative commons

“Fact or Fiction?”

Such accounts over the years like the have given rise to one of the most enduring seafaring legends. The legend of the Kraken.

The name “Kraken” originated from Scandinavia; often described to have tremendous size, and strength. Their myths place the creatures around the coasts of Norway and Greenland. Their tentacles are large enough to be able to pull entire ships under the water relative ease. In Greek Mythology they are also called “Scylla”.

Is there truth to these stories though?

As stated before, deep-sea gigantism is a proven fact. The tendency for deep-sea dwelling animals do tend to grow larger than their shallower-water counterparts.

But what would classify as a Kraken?

The Giant Squid

Source: Tsunemi Kubodera (in red circle) of the National Museum of Nature and Science of Japan/AP swims alongside a giant squid they lured with bait for the photo op.

One of the first possible contender for the Kraken would be giant squids. Normally, squids don’t even grow to an enormous size.

It wasn’t until as early as the late 1800’s that they leaped off the annals of myth and into reality.

A giant squid found at Ranheim in Trondheim 2 October 1954 is being measured by the Professors Erling Sivertsen and Svein Haftorn. The specimen was measured to a total length of 9.2 meters. Photo: NTNU Museum of Natural history and Archeaology

Scientists have called the species of the giant squid Architeuthis dux. Their habitats include the North Atlantic Ocean, Norway, the northern British Isles, Spain and the oceanic islands of the Azores and Madeira. Sightings also place them in the South Atlantic around southern Africa. Some are seen in the North Pacific around Japan. Others say they’re in the southwestern Pacific around New Zealand and Australia.

Conservationists are unable to estimate the actual number of the giant squids, because these ellusive creatures are quite rare – so an estimate of their overall population haven’t been conclusive. The scientists do agree that all giant squids belong to the same family species as there haven’t be reports of any other variants discovered.

Scientists speculate their size to be between 15 to 20 meters (49 to 66 feet), though there have been dubious accounts of them growing beyond the current record stated.

The Gigantic Octopus

Pen and wash drawing by malacologist Pierre Dénys de Montfort, 1801, from the descriptions of French sailors reportedly attacked by such a creature off the coast of Angola.

The gigantic octopus is another possible candidate to the fabled Kraken of legend, but until now, they are only speculation. People do often confuse the gigantic octopus with their smaller “cousin”: the Giant Pacific Octopus.

Giant Pacific Octopus – Source: Shutterstock

The largest known specimen of a Giant Pacific Octopus measures roughly over 9 meters (30 feet in length), and weighed 600 pounds.

Scientists estimate that they can grow up to 13 to 15 meters (around 45 to 50 feet), with a potential weight of 1,000 pounds – and can live up to five years.

Their habitat include the coastal North Pacific, British Columbia, Alaska, Russia, Japan, and the Korean Peninsula.

Octopuses are very intelligent. They have demonstrated the ability to recognize humans that they frequently come in contact with. Some of their responses will include jetting water, and changing body texture/color.

They also have the capability to solve simple puzzles, open childproof bottles and use tools to “get the job done”.

These two species could very well be behind the legends of such mythical creatures like the Kraken. Both can theoretically grow to gargantuan sizes. Unfortunately, the so-called Gigantic Octopus has proven to be as ellusive to find as the myth itself despite so-called eyewitness descriptions during the 19th century.

If it even exists for real at all.

So I guess actual Krakens – or fossils of such, are yet to be found. For now, they’re just probably still Folktails…

Tune back next time for Part 3 of

“FolkTails: The Depths Below”

where we dive as deep as we can to find Mermaids…

For the beginning of this series, you can read “FolkTails: It Slithers

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