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Canadian Monsters: Akhlut

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Today we are going to be taking a look at another Canadian Monster, this time we are looking at the Akhlut.


In Inuit mythology, Akhlut (pronounced Ock-lut or Ack-lut) is a spirit that takes the form of both a wolf and an orca. It is a vicious, dangerous beast. Its tracks can be recognized because they are wolf tracks that lead to and from the ocean. Dogs seen walking to the ocean and/or into it are often considered evil. Little is known of this spirit, other than that it shapeshifts from an orca to a wolf when hungry. Not many myths relate to this creature, but many myths tell of creatures that shift their shape. It is normally portrayed as a mix of an orca and a wolf.

It has been said that this is a dangerous creature, but most of the Inuit did not know what was attacking them while trying to get fish out of the Arctic Sea. The only thing they could think of was the wolf tracks coming out of the water. The Akhlut is very vicious and even attacks you if you have fallen asleep near the edge. Sometimes it goes as far as the Inuit camp to snatch them up. It has a furious appetite and would eat anything that's close by.

There are many stories of how the Akhlut came to be but legend this legend is the most popular:

It's about a man who is obsessed with the sea and wants to be with it all the time. After coming off the shore, he returns to his village, but his people don't recognize him; because he has become obsessed with the ocean and he gets banned from the village. While out on his own, he finds a pack of wolves, and because he is so hungry, like a wolf, for revenge; he becomes one with them. One day, his affection for the ocean becomes so insane that he jumps into the ocean, to be with it. He then transforms into an orca. Thus, he now swims as an orca, being at ease; but whenever his hunger for revenge is once again woken, he comes to land and transforms into a wolf.

Possible Explanations

Arctic wolves can swim in icy water, this would be an explanation as to why there are always footprints leading out of the water. There's also the explanation of the chunk of ice the arctic wolf was coming from/ going to, which simply broke off. Either with the wolf still on it, or with the wolf already having left, but a few meters away. The second solution is somewhat more mysterious, and still some kind of myth. It says that sometimes when elder arctic wolves are being rejected by a pack, they would commit suicide by jumping into the cold, icy water and drown themselves. This is rather odd, however, because survival instincts should prevent them from doing that because it's very strong with animals.

Interestingly, another name for an orca is Seawolf, stemming from a time when it was believed that the ocean and the land shared variants of the same animals; (hence the well-known seahorse and seacow, as well as lesser-known creatures such as the Monkfish and Seabees.) possible explanations are a descendant of ambulocetus, a large wolf, or a descendant of pakicetus.


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