Clash of the Titans brought the kraken back into popular consciousness, but a ship-eating leviathan doesn't have the same zing in 2010. No, we need a real-life marine horror to keep us off the beach. Here are our candidates.
After years of being overshadowed by Nessie, Chessie, and Ogopogo, the Kraken is back in a big way, kissing babies for photo ops during the day and frenching models outside the Viper Room at night. But has the kraken jumped the zeuglodon? I mean, the last time benthic beasts were hot was 1989, what with your Leviathan and your Abyss and your DeepStar Six and all that rigmarole. Maybe all of our 2010 kraken love is just one bass-ackwards case of 1980s nostalgia.
Also, multi-tentacled sea beasts don't have the fear factor they did in seafaring centuries. When's the last time you were on a boat? I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure I may have rented a paddle boat maybe once in the last three years. Or was it four years? Regardless, sea monsters don't have the same cultural cachet they once did. There are vikings in Minnesota, but almost nowhere else.
Sadly, the time has come for us to elect a new kraken. The 13th-century kraken scared some of the most grizzled guys in all time and space, but the 2010 kraken from Clash of the Titans only petrified confused stoners who thought they had snuck into Alice in Wonderland. Heck, even the Harryhausen kraken was scarier, and he looked like a moldy kielbasa.
No, the time has come for us to elect a new, real-life kraken that will strike fear into our beach-going hearts. We'll be judging our candidates on looks, personality, and threat to civilization. You can cast your ballot at the poll at the bottom. We'll send the winner a bucket of minnows or chum or something.
Candidate 1: The Giant Freshwater Stingray
Looks: Like Cthulhu if Mrs. Cthulhu hit him with a frying pan a bunch of times (he was out late drinking with that ne'er-do-well Azathoth, the blind, idiot god). Weighs between 550-950 lbs. As long as a car. Eyes = eerily sentient.
Personality: Reclusive, lives in the freshwaters of Southeast Asia and Northern Australia. Unknown if it travels out to sea.
Threat To Civilization: Low, unless it sits on you.
[Photo via National Geographic]
Candidate 2: The Megamouth Shark
Looks: Can grow to 18 feet long. First discovered in 1976; has only been spotted 47 times in total. Soulless eyes.
Personality: The megamouth is a filter feeder. Slow but spooky. The Boris Karloff of sharks.
Threat To Civilization: Ridiculously low, but he wouldn't be so elusive if he didn't have something to hide.
Candidate 3: The Bloop
Personality: In 1997, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration discovered a mysterious, extremely low frequency sound in the South Pacific. This sound - "The Bloop" - was apparently made by an animal and was detected by sensors 4,800 km apart. Inspired Cloverfield.
Threat To Civilization: So mammoth our puny walnut minds cannot even begin to comprehend it.
Candidate 4: The Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone
Looks: Like Ichthyological Hell. The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is a massive area of hypoxic water off of Louisiana. Fertilizer run-off from the Mississippi River causes algae blooms which drain the oxygen from the water. Oxygen-starved fish die by the millions, and we're left with up to 7000 square miles of deadly, serene waters.
Personality: Very unpleasant. Hates fish, crabs, shrimp, life.
Threat To Civilization: High. Threat to club sauce industry: also high.
[Photo via Carleton College]
Candidate 5: The Jersey Shore Phenomenon
Looks: Hair gel, implants, orange skin in the nascent stages of melanoma.
Personality: MTV gave eight walking, talking paisano stereotypes a beach house. Unintentional comedy ensued, and our lives were mildly enriched, probably on the same level as finding $1 on the street. Then they refused to get off the air, and the copycats came.
Threat To Civilization: Astronomical. This show is the worst thing to happen to seaside communities since Jaws.
Candidate 6: The Principality of Sealand
Looks: Sealand is a rusting WWII military base off the southeast coast of England. It is a micronation whose main industries are web hosting and online gambling.
Personality: Sealand is a true story right out of a Monty Python sketch. In 1967, Roy Bates boated out to the HM Fort Roughs and declared himself the Prince of Sealand. The rusting structure was outside of British territorial waters until 1987, but Britain hasn't tried to reclaim the HM Fort Roughs primarily because the situation is so profoundly bizarre. It's also the only state on the planet where you can buy a royal title for £29.99 (plus £4.99 postage).
Threat To Civilization: Low. Despite Sealand's potential to become a Waterworld-like belligerent state lorded over by a Dennis Hopperesque despot, Sealand seems content to corrupt you with online craps.
Candidate 7: The Pacific Trash Vortex
Looks: A roiling slurry of plastic crap that spans the Pacific Ocean. Could be larger than the continental United States. Resembles Gramma Garbage Heap from Fraggle Rock.
Personality: Near invisible and deadly to the Earth's ecosystem, like a giant Predator who's taking a bath on our planet.
Threat To Civilization: The fish eat the plastic. We eat the fish. We become Planet Barbie. Yikes.