Friday 7 January 2022

Sea monsters of the coasts of Iceland


Sea monsters of the Westfjords of Iceland

The Shore Laddie, or Fjorulalli , is a creature reportedly residing   along the Westfjords of Iceland. The Fjorulalli has brownish-grey fur adorned with mussels and barnacles which make a noise as  it moves. Some say it has hooves ,others webbed feet.

There are some stories reported:

 “One early winter evening in Bjarnarhöfn by Breidafjordur, six men went out to see whether missing sheep had returned to the farm. They observed something moving by the shed and rushed to grab hold of the sheep and take it inside. When they came closer they realised that this was no sheep. They formed a circle around the creature which then took off towards the sea, pursued by the men, including my narrator. It ran as quickly as a dog and escaped into the ocean. It had a short, round head but otherwise resembled a dog rather than sheep. It had a hump on its back and jumped frequently as it ran.”

There is a story  from Selárdalur: "A man named Árni went from Selárdalur to hunt foxes at a cliff called Gammur. While he was waiting for the fox to appear a creature appeared from the sea, as tall as a man, but with thick legs with claws. It moved slowly towards Árni. Árni got frightened and shot at the creature, which hurried back into the sea and disappeared"

(from Skrímslasetrið - Sea Monster Museum Iceland )

The Shell monster

 Is a bear-like animal with blue scales.  Described as often having seaweed and shell on its .It has long claws which it uses to hold onto rocks at the bottom of the sea.  In the 18th and 19th  centuries, many sightings were reported .

Gísli konráðsson 1787-1877:wrote that in Grímsey a man named Gísli Brandsson and his brother Jón Brandsson the Yztabæ, were walking by the sea, intending to go fishing when they saw the monster .It was as large as a horse with huge legs. They tried to capture it but it was too strong and got away.

Hallgrímur the Strong lived at Vík in Flateyjardalur in the early 1800s. Grímur was his son. One moonlit winter night, Grímur was lying in wait by the sea, hunting for foxes, when he saw a large and unfamiliar creature come on land. Its body gleamed like the skin of a whale and made a rustling sound like seashells rattling. The creature headed straight towards Grímur. When it had almost reached him, Grímur aimed the gun at its head and fired. Blood poured from the wound and the creature retreated back into the sea, never to be seen again. Gísli Jónasson of Svínarnes recounted this event, as told to him by Grímur himself. Gísli maintained that Grímur was a truthful and honest man.

Símon jóh 1904-1976 : “I was raised in a remote province, Reykjarfjörður on the southern coast, where heavy ancient lore reigned ... Various cryptids, freak-of-nature creations, remained in the lakes and the sea. All throughout my lifetime, the shell monster could've been spotted in the fjords in autumn. The belief in such creatures has been big there, even Jón calls the fjord "the monster fjord".

An English trawler in early 1900s stole it's way into one of the Icelandic fjords and caught the creature, the crew was terrified and wanted to get rid of the unwanted catch.Some claim that the creature caught in the net spit poison on the men, which burned them.It escaped back into the sea.

Most weapons are useless against the creature. Its blood being toxic ,wounding it would kill the hunter.To harm one , you must shoot silver buttons, grey willow catkins, or lamb droppings from a gun the stories state.

I wonder if some of the sightings  of the creatures could be walruses covered in barnacles coming on land? The belief in the creatures still exists however so maybe there is some truth in the tales.

Most of these reports can be found in:

Hlidberg, J. B. and Aegisson, S.; McQueen, F. J. M. and Kjartansson, R., trans. (2011) Meeting with Monsters. JPV utgafa, Reykjavik.


There are also lake monsters in Iceland,read about them here :


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