The Kraken's True Form
Muse Science Magazine for Kids|January 2020
HOW DOES THE SEARCH FOR A MYTHICAL SEA MONSTER END?
Kathryn Hulick

The submersible dives down, deeper and deeper. The color of the surrounding water fades from blue-green to rich blue and finally to gray-black. Suddenly, out of the blackness, a jellyfish covered with dancing lights appears.

It’s a lovely sight. But the people inside the bright yellow Triton submersible are not looking for small creatures, no matter how flashy. They have come to the Ogasawara islands of Japan on this summer day in 2012 to search for a massive beast.

Its eyes are each the same size as a human head. It grabs prey using eight long arms and two even longer feeding tentacles. With these tentacles stretched out, it can reach the height of a four-story building. On each of its arms and tentacles, hundreds of suction cups with sharp, serrated edges cut into whatever it grabs. It devours each meal with a sharp beak and toothed tongue.

Inside its body, three hearts beat, pushing blue blood through the creature’s veins. And its skin changes color, shimmering through hues of metallic silver and bronze. Should any other creature try to attack it, the beast sprays out a cloud of jet-black ink. This cloaks its escape. On this dive, the group fails to find what they’re looking for. But they will keep trying. What is this monster they seek? Could it possibly be real?

Mythical Monsters

Sea monsters have swum through myth and folklore as far back as the thirteenth century, when The Saga of Arrow-Odd, an Icelandic romance, mentioned a beast called Hafgufa that swallowed men and ships. In 1555, Olaus Magnus, an archbishop in Sweden, described and illustrated several sea monsters, writing that one of these beasts could drown many great ships. In 1755, bishop Erik Pontoppidan described the Kraken, a beast so large it resembles a string of small islands. He wrote it was “round, flat, and full of arms or branches.” When a Kraken rises to the surface, he writes, smart fishermen “take to their oars and get away as fast as they can.”

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