Qalupalik: The Monstrous Inuit Mermaid

The Qalupalik

Among the Inuit people of Alaska and northern Canada, there is a legend which tells of humanoid creatures that live in the water and hunt along the shorelines. These are the Qalupalik, who dwell in the cold Arctic waters, and their bodies reflect their environment. They are said to have a generally human-like shape but express many features of the aquatic life found in the area. The Qalupalik are described as having long hair that resembles seaweed, fins on their heads or backs and limbs, and webbed hands and feet. On their webbed hands are long and sharp claws that help it to capture and eviscerate its prey. This creature’s description mirrors that of most humanoid-aquatic cryptids or beings from folklore and mythology across the world, notably that of mermaids.

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A Legend Forgotten, or Just Simple?

There is little information to be found about the Qalupalik across the internet, which could be due to a few factors. Inuit stories were primarily passed on orally until the forced integration into European-American culture and Christianity, at which point much of the old traditions and legends were left behind or forgotten. It is also possible that the Qalupalik never received a fully fleshed out background because the general description and the short tales served their purpose well enough among the people. This purpose was likely a simple one of explaining the dangers of children wandering off alone in the frozen north or being careless while near the ocean. There are indeed many dangers presented by the Arctic ocean including but not limited to hungry creatures, sharp rocks, and sudden waves. Describing these dangers as a more fantastical and otherworldly creature likely helped to drive home the importance of caution when talking with children.

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History degree, freelance writer, novice metal worker and mechanic, adventure and horror enthusiast. https://www.patreon.com/YamunaHrodvitnir

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Yamuna Hrodvitnir

History degree, freelance writer, novice metal worker and mechanic, adventure and horror enthusiast. https://www.patreon.com/YamunaHrodvitnir