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Adorable Sea Monsters 1: Kraken

A blog post by Dr. M of Deep Sea News brought to my attention a few advertisements for Kraken Rum. If you’re like Dr. M and like both hard liquor and cephalopods, this is for you. It is also for those who love mythical monsters, steampunk, illustrations and marine history. (Skip straight to the end of this post for the videos.)

Kraken as described in The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures:

The terrifying sea monster from the legends of Scandinavia. Also known as the Krabben and Skykraken, the Kraken is described as being of great length and breadth with a number of fins and tentacles extending from the side of its body. The monster’s favourite trick was to encircle passing ships with its enormous body and drag them beneath the water. This action created a whirlpool, so that anything that escaped from its initial attack was sucked under. The Kraken has a taste for human flesh and was so vast that it could consume an entire fishing fleet – boats and men – at one time. The amber washed up around the shores of the North Sea was said to be its excrement.

When not attacking its prey, the Kraken lay on the surface of the sea and like the Fastitocalon and Aspidochelone of seafaring lore, it was often mistaken for a floating island. Unwary mariners who attempted to land on its back, and to light cooking-fires, soon learnt the error of their ways,. Despite their fear of it, fiehermen noted that large schools of smaller fish always seemed to swim before it, so that those brave enough to risk the Kraken’s jaws were able to secure a notable catch.

In the 1680′s a Kraken was reported stranded on the coast of Norway; while local tradition at Roysay, in the Kyles of Bute, Scotland, claims that a Kraken was washed ashore in 1775. The description in a 18th-century book, The Natural History of Norway, includes mention of how the Kraken turned the sea dark with a discharge of liquid, suggesting that what the author of this book may have been describing was either an octopus or a cuttlefish of unusual size.

Kraken

This monstrosity also inspired artists of various disciplines.

The Kraken by Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

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 and secret cell
Unnumber’d and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the lumbering green.

There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms 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.

Now. Where’s my rum?

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