Release the Kraken! Origins of the Legendary Sea Monster


Yes, release the Kraken! Recognizable by its massive size and tentacled
limbs, the Kraken is one of the most legendary and feared sea monsters of the deep. Stories of the Kraken say it could take down
whole ships, grab sailors off decks, and create whirlpools—all to get humans into the water
and into the monster’s waiting beak. Because despite having more than half of the
world’s species to choose from for dinner, apparently there is nothing in the ocean more
delicious than humans. We know less about the oceans on our own planet
than we do about our solar system. And before we started going to space, sailing
far away from land was just about the scariest, most uncertain trip a person could take. So much about the ocean is inherently terrifying. It’s dark, vast, deep, and unpredictable. It sparks our imaginations of what could lie
beyond the horizon, or what lurks beneath the waves. And that’s where the Kraken comes in. The first written mention of the colossal sea beast was by King Svarah of Norway in
1180. He tells sailors to look out for a large squid-like
monster that swims the coasts of Norway, Greenland, and Iceland. Since then, the Kraken has continuously appeared
in literature, most famously in the work of Jules Verne, Victor Hugo, and Alfred Tennyson. It’s not surprising that we first find this creature in Northern Europe given the reliance
the Nordic people had on the ocean for trade, travel, and survival. Unlike other sea monsters that require a bit
more imagination, the idea of a giant, tentacled creature prowling below the surface of the
water, waiting to take down unsuspecting ships and sailors makes sense. Because there are living organisms that fit
the description (minus the sailor-eating part). The giant squid and the colossal squid are two living cephalopods that can be found in
every ocean on Earth. Giant squid really are giant, measuring up
to 43 feet in length. But the colossal squid holds the title of
world’s largest living invertebrate, growing up to 49 feet long (at current record!). The largest one found so far weighed over
1,000 pounds. Oh, and in addition to suckers, it has barbed
hooks on its tentacles, and they are very fast swimmers. Both species frequent the deep, cold waters
of the ocean, making it hard to see them in their natural habitat. Before the 21st-century, no photographic evidence
of a living giant squid existed. It wasn’t until 2012 that we first caught
these creatures alive on video in their natural habitat. The Kraken is bigger than giant and larger
than colossal. It’s a sea beast with multiple tentacles
that often acts aggressively towards humans. A Kraken is basically an angrier, much larger
version of a squid. Personally, I’m terrified of the Kraken. Something about those giant eyes, wiggling
tentacles, and suckers just completely freaks me out. And I’m not the only one. Victor Hugo apparently hated anything with tentacles. In his 1866 novel The Toilers of the Sea,
a character has a frightening encounter with an octopus who wraps itself around his body
and almost kills him. Hugo dedicates an entire chapter outside of
the plot to rant about how terrifying and monstrous these quote “Devil-Fish” are. Writing about quote, “what ancient legends
call the Krakens,” he describes them as “glutinous masses endowed with a malignant
will.” Hugo describes how such a creature could wrap itself around a swimmer and drown them, and
even goes as far as to say they are capable of sucking blood with their tentacles. He summarizes his fear of suckers stating,
“Claws are harmless compared with the horrible action of these natural cupping-glasses. The talons of the wild beast enter into your
flesh; but with the cephalopod, it is you who enter into the creature.” Yikes. There are real accounts of octopuses attacking
and even drowning swimmers, many of which occur in the 19th century, the same time Hugo,
Tennyson, and Verne wrote their Kraken stories. In Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under
the Sea, Captain Nemo and his crew are attacked by not just one, but “10 or 12,” “horrible
monsters” described as giant octopuses. It’s a bloody, inky, chaotic fight scene
with tentacles flailing everywhere, and the crew defending itself with hatchets and harpoons. Tennyson’s 1862 poem “The Kraken” depicts
the monster as an apocalyptic force that will rise from quote “His ancient, dreamless,
uninvaded sleep” one day to be seen by “men and angels.”The Kraken appears in nonfiction
literature as well, with reports of giant squid corpses beginning in the 14th century. We have accounts of massive tentacles washing
ashore and of giant squid corpses floating at sea. Sperm whales are the natural predator of giant
squid, so pieces of the creatures have been found in their stomachs, and they even sometimes
get scars of huge sucker marks from a squid that put up a fight. Okay, but how does that explain the legends of Kraken attacking humans? Well, octopuses have attacked swimmers and
divers—we have the footage. But there’s another element at work—sharks. We need to take these predators into account
when talking about the kraken. Though shark attacks are rare, they do happen. Often, all a witness would see is a flailing
body, blood, and maybe even the victim dragged under the surface of the water—but no evidence
of what was causing the attack. This established the idea that large creatures
in the ocean posed a threat to humans. Combine that with sightings of the alien body
of a giant squid or a large tentacle, and the Kraken legend begins to take form. To quote Hugo: “These animals are indeed
phantoms as much as monsters. They are proved and yet improbable.” The Kraken is unnerving because it resembles a real animal. Sure, we don’t have conclusive evidence
of one over 50 feet long, but we’ve only measured around 500 giant squid throughout
recorded history. We can hardly call that a representative sample
of an entire species. All we really have are glimpses of a creature we don’t completely understand. The relatively few species we do know about
in the deep ocean are frightening because they seem otherworldly. We don’t need to look to space for aliens;
they exist right here in the uncharted territories of Earth. Even more bizarre creatures may exist in the
dark depths of our oceans, inspiring authors to craft even stranger, more terrifying sea
monsters.

Comments 100

  • Thank you all for the feedback about including metric system values. We will be sure to do this on screen in future videos!
    Giant squid can measure up to 13.1 meters (43 feet) in length.
    The world’s largest living invertebrate, the colossal squid have been measured at 14.9 meters (49 feet) long.

  • You should do an episode on Griffons

  • What's krakken?

  • i am a simple woman. i see new Monstrum video, i click…

  • Indian mythical snake humans called Naagin would be great topic. There are several myths/stories/films/tv shows depicting them.

  • The sound work in these videos is fantastic. Well done!

  • Colossal isn't really more massive than giant then, is it? That 6 ft difference is all tentacle, and the body and arms actually looked smaller in the drawings.

  • Love the videos, great channel. Would love to see one about Jiangshi

  • I do so love this channel!

  • 0:41 “we know less about our oceans on our own planet then we do about our solar system” That is so ridiculously untrue it hurts your credibility. Not only is it wrong for a gazillion reasons, just the one fact that there are oceans on other bodies in our solar system that we know even less about shows just how silly that statement is.

    If you consider yourself a leaning channel you need to at the very least stay in the vicinity of correct and leave these wacky statements to the conspiracy channels. You don't need to sink to their level to try and compete.
    You will just become one.

  • Another great video ..
    <3

    Thanks for everything you guys do for us ..
    Appreciate yah ..!

  • Clash of the Titans remake was released in 2010, not 2014. Other than that, great stuff :).

  • I'm sure that Hugo would never have made such an egregious error as to say "they are proved." Both because he was smarter than that and because il parlait français.

  • One of the fish you showed when talking about the deep ocean looked like a tesselata eel which is found in coral reefs and usually doesn't go much deeper than 45m. The Mesopelagic zone or Twilight Zone doesn't start until 200m and the midnight zone begins around 1000m. They basically live at the surface of the ocean compared to the stuff you're talking about

  • The Kraken is a lot less frightening once you've watched the NSP video.

  • Yay I requested this!!! Thank you so much I LOVE this episode!

  • Hey you guys may never know maybe the Kraken has an allergic reaction to fish and that's why it likes picking on humans

  • She keeps saying tentacles. But I don't think she knows what tentacles are.
    Tentacles: long, smooth, cylindrical appendages with a flat, spoon-shaped "hand" containing suckers (think squidward)
    Arms: Long conical appendages with suckers lining all along the length and underside of the appendage.
    Those are arms, not tentacles

  • Do a video on the Manticore

  • Europeans: tentacles are scary and alien.

    Japanese: 😏

  • In the current Godzilla Monsterverse the Kraken is one of the titans. As are the Loch Ness Monster, Leviathan, Behemoth, & Quetzacoatl.

  • Look at all the whiny-assed little euros in the comments… hey, idiots, a foot is about the length of a man's foot. It's literally that simple. Don't even pretend you can intuit the difference between 14.3 and 14.6 meters in your mind's eye. Do they raise you all to be such a pack of moronic crybabies on purpose, or did all the brave smart ones just leave to move to the new world already?

    You all better stay the hell away from boats, especially, because not only do sailors use both feet and meters, we have fathoms and nautical miles and knots and even ells sometimes. Your poor little brains would explode before you ever got off the damn dock. And stay away from horses, because they still get measured in "hands" in most places, ffs, and how could you possibly guess how big a "hand" is supposed to be?

    There, that feels a tiny bit better. I just had a minor concussion because of someone else's shitty decision-making (less than an hour ago), so I'm in a lot of pain and a little pissy about everything right now. At least I'm still together enough to realize I'm not totally together. Just don't crowd me for a while, and no one will suffer horribly. I'm not always pleasant after a spine and central nervous system injury.

    Anyway, Monstrum Channel, the common practice that has evolved among science communicators on YouTube is to put everything in metric that makes sense to put in metric, and use on-screen annotations of imperial units if you want to give the feet and inches for children in the USA. Trying to actually say both is unwieldy, and the American science audience can think in both metric and englishy units at will, because IT'S NOT THAT HARD.

  • I think if anyone found something close to a kracken they would not live long enough to tell the tale.

  • As a child, I used to be under the belief that cephalopods drank blood with their suckers, too. Wonder how that myth came about?

  • Octopuses and squids are intelligent and able to learn amazing things despite their short life expectancy. I recommend the book "Other Minds" by Peter Godfrey-Smith about the other-wordly aspect of a complex nervous system and body plan completely different from ours.

  • Thanks Doc. Great video. I love the Kraken!

  • Great video, would appreciate metric conversion next time.

  • Now that you're already at sea monsters – How about telling us about the Leviathan?

  • I find how accurate their description of a giant squid is to be amazing. Particularly when you consider that the odds of someone having seen one to be minimal.

  • Build up your special and become a Kraken in the first Splatoon

  • Poor kraken, plastic polution going to kill him 🙁

  • Little concerned this might give people the wrong idea about octopuses and squid. Yeah, a giant octopus, as an opportunistic hunter, might attack a drowning human or turn up at the bottom of a shark feeding frenzy. But there are also plenty of videos of divers interacting with octopuses that show them to be curious, intelligent, shy creatures. A healthy adult human is not prey for an octopus, we're just too much trouble. Not to mention the horrible abuses and painful deaths many creatures suffered when octopus wrestling was an actual sport (the human always won).

  • Ah, the Kraken, dark lord of Kerbal Space Program.

  • "Let no joyful voice be heard! Let no man look up to the sky with hope! And let this day be cursed by we who ready to wake… THE KRAKEN!"
    – Davy Jones

  • Perhaps you could do like Japanese monsters such as Yo Kai?

  • Don’t forget the Watcher at the gate in Lord of the Rings, which was basically a kraken.

  • I really enjoy PBS' YouTube content. Fun, informative and doesn't overstay its welcome. One thing though. I understand it's a USA based company, but it would be really helpful if you used metric alongside your imperial/medieval unit system in your videos. Please. I'm sure the rest of the planet would be truly grateful.

  • Use both metric and imperial at your video

  • Kraken: "Yummy Humans: No claws or beaks, fur-less soft pink flesh, and lots of tender fat!"
    Nod is ocean in the background and your 'Sailor-esk' top. 👍
    Another awesome video. Thank you!

  • Meters PLEASE

  • Some ideas for future episodes:
    – Ouroboros
    – Sphinx
    – Yeti/Bigfoot
    – Vampires and Werewolves
    – The Loch Ness Monster
    – Ghosts, spectres, poltergeists etc.
    – Grendel and his mum (maybe, more generally, "monster-mums"?)
    – Orcs, goblins, hobgoblins etc.
    – Trolls (both kinds)
    – Djinns
    – Gnomes, Heinzelmännchen etc (helpful or trickster spirits, admittedly not actual.monsters)
    – Demons, incubi, succubi etc.
    – "Evil Gods" (Baal, Mammon, Chronos, Cthulhu…)
    – Sandworms (Dune)
    – Changelings
    – Witches and warlocks
    – Cthulhu
    – Giants
    – Will-o'the-wisps
    – Sirens, Lorelei, mermaids etc
    – Harpies
    – Dr. Hannibal Lecter 😉
    – Joke/prank monsters (Jackalope, Dahu, Wolpertinger… )
    – "What happens when the monster gets you?" (be eaten, drown, tortured, killed, turn into a monster, lose mind, get lost, tirn into stone, get possessed/mind-controlled, unpleasant afterlife, must solve riddles, …)
    – "How does the monster get to you?" (Hunst at night, hides in the woods, lures in the deep, blocks bridge or other passage, summoned, sneaks into house, hides in closet, comes if you break some rule, confuses sailors with songs or beauty, lures you…)
    – "How do you get rid of the monster?" (Run, weak spot, outsmart/trick it, ritual, science, solve it's riddle or guess its name, sunlight, some food (garlic), specific weaponry (silver bullet, stake, holy hand grenades…), symbols (pentacles, cross…), holy water, you can't…)
    – "Where does its anatomy come from?" (Bigger version of animals, bigger/smaller/uglier/scarier/funnier/transparent/… version of humans, combining animals, animal-human hybrid, human or animal with additional body parts or multiple heads, dino fossils, completely made up, "monstrified" natural phenomenon, actually exists…)

  • Speaking monsters of the deep, please do Leviathan and Loch Ness next!

  • Your videos seem so much longer than they are because they're so packed with information! I love that you go through the physical, historical, and textual evidence. I never connected the Kraken to shark attacks, that's for sure. I'm going to go read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea now!

  • Super cool and legit kinda creepy episode! Can't wait to see whatever yall make next!

  • Victor will lose his s*** if he ever sees Japanese porn.

  • The scary they are the good food they test

  • Amazing video as always, thank you!!

  • 1:08 The 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans wasn't in 2014.

  • but i thought the kraken was originally not a squid

  • Oh myyyyyy! The animation from 1:39 to 1:55 is good.

  • I'm not so sure that the Kraken is always depicted as an octopus. In Norway there are legends about it lying on the ocean floor with a kind of "forest" of protuberances or limbs on its back (though maybe it could also be seen as tentacles).

    In that "forest", organisms gathered that were food for fish, which then flocked to it.

    So if you got much more fish than expected on a given spot, you might have been fishing on the Kraken.

    Risky business, that

  • Wait a Minute are you saying that I was randomly interested in something at 5 am and there was a recent story?

  • human meat for the Kraken is like what fish meat is for us… so the Kraken probably likes eating us for something special… 🙂

  • Congrats for such an excellent channel! Some compelling, hard wired animal fear about the black icy depths of the ocean.

    In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.

  • Nice video! Also, like… Cthulhu ftaghn

  • You're awesome Dr. Zarka! This series is great.

  • I love learning about the possible origins of how these monster rumors came together to make a whole new creature.

  • Hello Thalassophobia, my old friend..

  • For people not in America the colossal squid was just barely under 15 meters long and the giant squid was about 13 meters long

  • My favorite representations of giant cephalopods are from the following:

    Monsterquest, Giant Octopus & Giant Humboldt Squid

    Beast Legends, Kraken

    Lost Tapes, Kraken & Oklahoma Octopus

    Clash of the Titans, original & remake

  • KRAKEN KRAKEN KRAKEN KRAKEN

  • As much as I love these videos, I must admit that my favorite part is the out takes and bloopers at the end.
    But they are too damn short!

  • A kracken bit Chuck Norris once…

    ONCE!

  • on your comment about why a sea monster would eat humans. It's probably because we are a rare delicacy, similar to how we eat clams stuff you don't get very often but super delicious.

  • My friend is the kracken…

    We had just finished watching Civil War in the theater when I hear this awful terrifying sound and the first thing that came to my mind (I live in a landlocked semi arid region) was that "yup, that is the kracken. We are all going to die." I whipped my head around, terror plastered in my eyes to see

    My friend holding a tissue. She had blown her nose, okay kinda loud but not that strange. But for that split second, for some strange reason, I legitimately thought that the kracken was going to come kill us all.

  • I say 'release the kraken' every time I do a number 2.

  • Yahoo release the kraken!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I'm so glad I subscribed to this channel 🙂

  • Deep Look sent me here loving this channel Dr. Zarka!

  • This page deserves more subs

  • You already wrote it but please, use metric system, is not only to be easy for almost everyone, but it feels less "scientific"/"real"/"important" using imperial.

  • We know less about the ocean than our own solar system?
    There's planets and moons in our solar system with oceans. How do we know about those oceans more than our own, and the oort (spelling might be off) cloud isn't it being explored.
    The old metaphor 'we know more about the moons surface than the ocean floor' has gotten out of hand.

  • Wedigo !!!!!!! Come on I'd love to hear about my local Canadian monster

  • Every other country:
    giant tentacles = fear

    Japan:
    Giant tentacles = soft moans♥️

  • Leave it to the Ghostbusters

  • Just realised that "Dr. Zarka" sounds like it could be an evil character from a European horror novel, who occasionally meets with Frankenstein and Dracula.😉

  • I don't know if you appreciate suggestions, but what about something from Slavic mythology like the vodník or Baba Jaga? That would be really cool.

  • I️ love this show!!!!

  • Do one on the wendigo

  • Thank you for this . 🤗 I love the hidden mysteries of the deep . If you have a moment , listen to " The Deepest Part of the Ocean is not Empty " a story by the Jesse Clarke & narrated by Nature's Temper on youtube It's a fantastic & enthralling tale of a deep sea explorer running into a one of these amazing beasts. 😳❤️

  • How are more people not subbed to this awesome channel, mythology and cryptology are very interesting subjects and this channel does an awesome job at putting it all in a entertaining format, I’m gonna assume that people are just unaware of its existence.

  • My IF CHULTHU fought KRAKEN surely Chutlu gonna won

  • Can we get a Wendigo or Mothman episode at some point?

  • In Norwegian and Swedish, krake literally means "poor, pitiful creature". Sometimes even "small sickly thing". And considering old fishing tales, with the fish always getting bigger with each retelling… That kind of explains it in my book. Not strange if once in living memory some giant squid attacks, or even is just sighted by sailors, it has created this mythic monster.

  • Something about atificial intelligence as a monster?

  • There are also recent stories of red squids atacking fishermen on the pacific ocean, way more vicious than sharks, they call them the red devils

  • I have to say I’m am a little disappointed you didn’t mention that it is impossible for giant squids to lift their tentacles up out of the water. You made it sound like they may actually be able to do that.

  • Excellent video. Well researched, well edited and well presented. Subscribed.

  • I'm waiting for you to say something about El Diablo Rojo, they're not as big but they do attack. probably the closest thing to Kraken if not for the size

  • Do an episode about the leviathan!

  • The earth is not a ball, there is no solar system, creatures like the kraken exist and one day will once more be released.

  • I am kraken

  • The Krakens one terrifying sea creature

  • Look up Ninja Sex Party's music video "Release the Kracken" It kept going through my head while watching this episode!

  • 00:40 I think that's wrong. we've seen way more from our oceans than from our solar system. we've sent explorers to different depths of every body of water on this planet. even if not sent by any organization, thousands of people dive to explore or to kinda explore (to look around) down there. in the meantime, we see stuff with our telescopes, have sent a handful of humans to the nearest cellestial body, and some robots to some other places.
    how could we know more about the solar system than about our oceans?

  • do one for the bakunawa.

  • Waiting for the video I saw again the sunglasses commercial and i swear i hope a Kraken will eventually swallow the guy into the abyss

  • Around the time of the Viking age, (750-1050 CE) the Kraken was referred to as a mythical sea monster called the Hafgufa.

  • Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

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