The Kraken. A sea monster of gigantic size with origins in Scandinavian folklore. Believed to have a cephalopod-like appearance and bring certain death to sailors. But is it all just myth?
I have had a few encounters with cephalopod beasts throughout the Meditteranian in various waters. Greek, Turkish and Spanish.
Over the years, I have seen many fishermen and divers land them ashore on the jetties of tiny fishing villages, strolled past lines of fancy fish restaurants cooking them and gladly given my custom to more than a few of those restaurants.
But to catch one? It had never occured to me until I went on a holiday with my wife’s extended family. We went to Majorca, which is very definately a beautiful island, offering some spectacular high hill country walking, and superb beaches.
It was while we were all enjoying one of these beaches that the most curious encounter occured. The party had decamped to various activities. Children were playing cricket with grandparents, my two brother-in-laws were wading into the sea for a spot of snorkelling and my wife was already powering out to sea with her super slick swimming action, and was already just a speck in the far distance.
Swimming out, I had my eyes firmly fixed beneath me for the shark attack I was fearing. Glancing up, I realised that everyone else was far more adventurous and swimming in deep water. Against better judgment, I edged deeper. My snorkel mask trained on the darker water ahead, looking for any sign of shark!
The bottom, which had been falling away steadily, now seemed to be quite level. And it was made up of boulders. No sand anywhere, just round, stone boulders all pressed together. I am not sure exactly what betrayed the round shape that was an exact match for the boulders, but it was betrayed. That, below me was the domed head of an octopus nestling between the round stones.
Swimming down, I was excited to realise that it was indeed an octopus. And quite a big beast at that. Circling him in admiration, I was able to see every detail of his head. He obliged by remaining motionless, keeping up his deception.
Surfacing, I called my brother-in-law over. Explaining what was below us I swam off, leaving him to view the beast. No luck. Michael could not see it at all, and demanded to know where exactly the beast could be found. He tried again and again with growing frustration. Finally, I swam back to him to help.
As we dived down I was pointing directly at the dome of the creature. Looking at Michael’s reaction, I realised he could only see rocks.
Closer we went without the beast ever being discovered by fresh eyes. Closer. I pointed and pointed, all the time looking at Michael to acknowledge he could see what I saw. Closer. I was now very close indeed, and jabbed a finger toward the head. Nothing. Michael just couldn’t see it.
Then whoosh! Mr Octo had run out of patience! He rocketed from his hiding place and headed for me at top speed. Yikes! He was a monster!
I swam backwards for all I was worth and then turned to surface. We thought that would be the end of it as we laughed at how mad he was and began to marvel at our encounter. But it was not the end. We checked the water and he was heading up from the deep.
Not being the greatest swimmer, I did my best to find top gear and we made it half way back to the beach. We checked underwater again. He was still comming! He was just seconds away!
Top gear again. All the way back to the beach. We left the water giggling like kids, and Michael began to tell the others of our encounter with the monster.
Finding myself a stout branch I returned to the waters edge claiming ‘I am not taking that from an Octopus!” However, I was none too sure of what I was going to do with my branch in this underwater joust.
Too late now. I was commited. As I stood in just inches of water, fixing my face mask, something began to slide a tentacle around my leg! It was Mr Octo and he now had a good grip. Without thinking, I swivelled to face the beach and made as if I was shooting a football at the goal.
Sure enough, Mr Octo was airborn and landed on the sand a few metres away, unurt, but even angrier! He was making no end of comotion. I gathered him up and put him in the sea. Off he went at full speed, heading for the deep!