A giant squid one of the few unseen animals whose existence is not in doubt. It was originally described by Erik Pontoppidan, a Norwegian bishop, in his Natural History of Norway (1752—53) as immense; he declared it was so large that it could drag ships under water. Pontoppidan’s opinions about the kraken were ignored by biologists until 1847, when a Danish naturalist named Johan Japetus Steenstrup lectured on the subject to the Society of Scandinavian Naturalists. Steenstrup published a scientific description of the kraken in 1857 and gave it its scientific name of Architeuthis. A series of squid carcasses washed onto Canadian beaches during the 1870s helped popularize Steenstrup’s work.
The modern controversy over the giant squid rests not on whether it exists, but on how large it grows. Because most krakens live in deep water, they never reach the surface. One way to measure the size of these creatures is to look at the scars they leave on their major predators sperm whales. The whales have shown sucker scars that measure as much as 45 centimeters (18 inches) in diameter. If the scars are proportional to the size of the squids, the kraken may measure up to 27 or 30 meters (90 or 100 feet) in length.