Kraken

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"Kraken attacking a ship", by Pierre Denys de Montfort (1802)

The kraken (Swedish: krake, "wretch"; or Danish: krage, "stump") is a name given to a sea monster in the folk tales of Norway, and possibly based on reports of the giant squid.

The first stories of the creature came from fisherman during the 16th century when they told tales of a monster more than a mile long with many arms which would rise from the surface and pull sailing ships down with them. Increases in their fish catches were also attributed to the kraken, when soundings they made showed a rapid rise from twenty fathoms to five in certain areas, with the resulting increase in the number of fish supposedly frightened by the creature. Two kraken were reputed to have existed, of whose bodies would not be shown until Doomsday.

The first serious article on the kraken is attributed to the theologian Erik Pontoppidan in his work Det forste forsdg Norges naturlige historie (Natural History of Norway, 1752). Small squid are known to live in the Scandinavian fjords and sightings of larger ones have been made in various times; certainly stranded giant squid - one off Alstadhang in 1680 and another at Rothesay on the Isle of Bute in 1775 - have also been claimed to be kraken.

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