In Norwegian sea folklore, an enormous sea monster which would occasionally attack ships and devour the sailors. It was supposed to be capable of dragging down even the largest of ships, and when submerging could suck down a vessel by the whirlpool it created. It is part octopus and part crab, although others refer to it as a giant squid or cuttlefish. It has a serpent-like head, large eyes, and a long mane similar to masses of seaweed.

According to some, there was just one kraken, while others believed that there were several that bred under the ocean. Large ones ranged from one to two hundred feet, and the smaller from eighty to a hundred feet. See also sea serpent.

It was first described by Erich Pontoppidan in his Natural History of Norway (1752).



  • Teit, James A. (1918). "Water-beings in Shetlandic Folk-Lore, as remembered by Shetlanders in British Columbia." JAF 31:180-201, p. 197.