Canadian Kraken Stamp

Kraken Stamps

The Kraken is a legendary sea creature which would attach a ship by grabbing it with its many arms and capsizing it. The crew would drown or be devoured by the monster. The arms of the Kraken were said to be to reach as high as the top of a sailing ship's mast.

Tales of the Kraken may have been inspired by a real animal, the giant squid Architeuthis dux. This animal remains elusive because it usually lives in depths of the sea and it rarely seen alive near the surface. The largest giant squid ever measured possessed a body a little under 7 meters in length and arms almost 11 meters in length, with suckers 10 cm in diameter. Giant squid are estimated to grow even larger than this, perhaps as much as 30 meters in overall length.

In October 1966 two lighthouse keepers at Danger Point, South Africa watched a giant squid drown a baby southern right whale. In 1965 a Soviet whaler witnessed a fight between a 40 ton sperm whale and a giant squid. Neither animal survived this encounter.

Attacks by giant squid on ocean going sea vessels have been documented. In the 1930s the Norwegian tanker Brunswick was attacked several times by a giant squid. The squid was unable to get a good grip on the steel surface of the hull. It slipped and was torn to pieces by the ship's propellors. Probably the ship looked like a whale to the squid.

On January 11, 2003 the trimaran Geronimo captained by Frenchman Olivier de Kersauson, carrying a crew of twelve, encountered a giant squid about 30 feet long some 400 miles off the coast of Gilbraltar. The sailors believe the squid was still alive when they encountered it, but it slid off the hull and disappeared after its encounter with the ship. It is possible the squid was already dead when the ship ran into it.

In September 2005 a pair of Japanese scientists released the first photos ever of a live giant squid in its native deep water habitat. Zoologist Tsunemi Kubodera of the National Science Museum and Kyoichi Mori of the Ogasawara Whale Watching Association snapped the photos in September 2004 in the deep waters off the coast of the Ogasawara Islands. These scientists used a bait line sporting a digital camera, timer, strobe light, depth sensor, data logger, and digital switch. Small squid and shrimp provided the bait. During a four hour bout the giant squid lost one tentacle after it became entangled in the bait line. The scientists recovered the tentacle. DNA analysis verified the squid was indeed Architeuthis. The photos demonstrate that Architeuthis is an agressive hunter, using its tentacles to capture and strangle its prey.

Another candidate suggested as the prototype for the Kraken is the giant octopus. Scientists agree that the arm length of octopodes can reach as much as eight meters -- surely frightening enough to any diver who might encounter it. But there are reports of far larger octopodes from the waters around Florida and Grand Bahama Island. These reports speak of an octopus whose arm length reaches as much as twenty-five meters.

In March 2002 New Zealand scientists identified a dead octopus caught in a trawler's net as a large specimen of Haliphron atlanticus. The octopus weighed at least 70-75 kg and was over four meters in length. This octopus fell in the size range of a fully mature giant squid.

There is disputed physical evidence for much larger octopodes. In 1896 the remains of what appeared to be a giant octopus washed up on Anastasia Island, Florida off the coast of St. Augustine. Some of the arm fragments measured over eight meters in length. Yale University zoologist A. E. Verrill estimated the total arm length of the original animal may have reached twenty five meters. Verrill initially supported the idea that the remains were those of a giant octopus. Later he changed his mind, suggesting the remains came from a sperm whale.

Later investigators working with preserved samples confirmed the identification of an octopus -- or at least a cephalopod -- of unknown type. In 1995 a highly disputed new analysis challenged the octopus identification, instead that the remains came from a whale. Perhaps the Anastasia Island remains came from two different animals. The arms may have come from a giant squid and the other portions from a sperm whale, who killed each other in mortal combat.

See the Giant Squid and Octopodes section of my cryptozoology links page for more sites offering information about giant cephalopods.

Selected Kraken and Giant Squid Stamps
Antigua and Barbuda Giant Squid Stamp
Antigua and Barbuda

Scott # 1996
Issued 1996

This stamp is part of a set featuring Walt Disney characters in roles from stories by the French author Jules Verne. Mickey Mouse as Captain Nemo appears along with the giant cephalopod from Verne's novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea.

Antigua and Barbuda Giant Squid Souvenir Sheet
Antigua and Barbuda

Scott # 1998
Issued 1996

This souvenir sheet is part of a set of stamps featuring Walt Disney characters in roles from stories by the French author Jules Verne. Mickey Mouse as Captain Nemo and Donald Duck as Ned Land face off against the giant cephalopod from Verne's novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea.

Australian Antarctic Territory Giant Squid Stamp
Australian Antarctic Territory

Scott # L74
Issued 1973

This stamp shows a sperm whale attacking a giant squid.

Canada Kraken Stamp

Scott # 1290
Issued 1990

This Kraken stamp is one of a set of four stamps commemorating legendary Canadian animals. The others are Bigfoot, the loup garou (werewolf), and Ogopogo. The cachet engraving on the legendary animals first day cover depicts a kraken.

Dominica Giant Squid Stamp

Scott # 791
Issued 1983

This stamp shows a Goosebeak Whale eating a giant squid. One of a set of four stamps depicting whales. The other stamps display the Humpback Whale, the Great Right Whale, and the Melonhead whale. A companion souvenir sheet shows the Pygmy Sperm Whale.

France Giant Squid Stamp

Scott # B549
Issued 1982

This stamp depicts the scene from Jules Verne's novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, in which a giant cephalopod attacks Captain Nemo's submarine, the Nautilus. You may also view the first day cover.

Guernsey Giant Octopus Stamp

Scott # 591
Issued 1997

On this stamp Gilliatt, protagonist of Victor Hugo's novel The Toilers of the Sea , battles a giant octopus. Guernsey provides the setting for the novel. Victor Hugo's face appears in the sea foam. An accompanying miniature sheet briefly describes the novel.

Guyana Giant Squid Stamp

Scott # 3106
Issued 1996

This souvenir sheet of twelve about deep ocean exploration includes the giant squid and its enemy the sperm whale as well as a coelacanth.

New Zealand Giant Squid Stamp
New Zealand

Scott # 1542
Issued 1998

This giant squid stamp is one of a set of eight commemorating the underwater world. Other stamps in the set depict the Moonfish, the Mako shark, the Yellowfin tuna, the Porcupine fish, the striped marlin, the Eagle ray, and Sandager's wrasse.

New Zealand Giant Squid Souvenir Sheet
New Zealand

Scott # 1544a
Issued 1999

This souvenir sheet was issued to commemorate the Philex France 99 World Stamp Exhibition in Paris.

Palau Giant Squid Souvenir Sheet

Scott # 318
Issued 1993

This sheet of twenty five stamps depicts prehistoric and legendary monsters of the Pacific and includes the Kraken/giant squid. There is also a "lake serpent" but I do not know which lake monster this represents.

Palau Giant Squid Souvenir Sheet

Scott # 566
Issued 2000

This sheet depicts the giant squid and a whale.

Seychelles Giant Squid Stamp

Scott # 556
Issued 1984

This stamp depicts a giant squid attacking a sperm whale. Part of a four stamp set commemorating whale conservation.

South West Africa Giant Squid Stamp
South West Africa

Scott # 440
Issued 1980

This stamp, which shows a sperm whale attacking a giant squid, is part of a six stamp set commemorating whale conservation. All six stamps also appear together on a miniature sheet. In addition to the sperm whale, the other stamps depict the killer whale (orca), the humpback whale, the southern right whale, the fin whale, and the blue whale along with a diver.

St. Pierre and Miquelon Giant Squid Stamp
St. Pierre and Miquelon

Scott # 445
Issued 1975

This stamp depicts the Cap Blanc lighthouse, a whale, and a giant squid.

Togo Giant Octopus Stamp

Scott # C425
Issued 1980

This stamp is one of several stamps issued by Togo in 1980 in honor of Jules Verne. This stamp depicts the scene from Verne's novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea , in which a giant cephalopod attacks Captain Nemo's submarine, the Nautilus.

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Last modified by pib on February 19, 2010.