Jón Baldur Hlíðberg's illustration of a Fjörulalli
Illustration by Arngrímur Sigurdsson
A Fjörulalli statue at the Icelandic Sea Serpent Museum
The Fjörulalli or "Beach Walker" in Icelandic is an unknown otter-like animal inhabiting the remote coasts of Iceland, with a majority of sightings in the sparsely populated West Fjords region. Fjörulallis are described as being about the size of a labrador dog, with thick fur and a stocky, sheep-sized body.
Fjörulallis are said to be omnivorous, with reports describing them eating shellfish as well as kelp and other aquatic plants. They are commonly said to be able to reproduce with sheep and are often blamed for causing deformed calves, but this is doubtful. Fjörulallis are sometimes said to have pieces of clam shells or barnacles stuck in their fur, with some even describing a scraping noise when they move.
In 1851, a 13-year-old boy was sent out to help his father on a small, rocky island. When he arrived there, he saw a fjörulalli down on a slab of rock. He ran towards it to get a closer look but the fjörulalli noticed him and starting lumbering in the direction of the ocean. He managed to throw a rake handle at the animal, which made it yelp and dive into the water. It was described as looking like the size of a dog, but fatter, short-legged and scruffy with a short tail like a sheep.
In 1934, a man claimed to have seen a fjörulalli just outside his living room window at Búlandshöfði Point. The man described it as black, or very dark brown, with scruffy fur. It was low to the ground, stout, with a "box-shaped torso." It had a short neck with a small, round head. It moved in a way that "resembled no land animal," as it would throw both its front legs forwards together while walking. He watched the creature shamble away and lay down again farther away down the meadow his house was on.
Less than a year later, on December 23rd, 1934, a hunter named Guðfinnur Jakobsson claimed to have encountered a fjörulalli while fox hunting at night in the Grunnavík district. Eventually, Jakobsson stopped near a large boulder, where he saw an unusual, bulky, short-legged animal lying under it. When he got closer, the creature started lumbering towards the shore, making a scraping noise as it went. Jakobsson shot at the creature twice, but he either missed or the creature survived, as it continued on its way and plunged from the rocky shore into the sea.
A more recent sighting of what may be a fjörulalli was featured in the 43rd issue of Fortean Times magazine in 1985, as well as various local newspapers. The report, which occurred in 1984, was by two bird hunters, Julius Asgeirsson and Olafur Olafsson, while walking around Lake Kleifarvatn which is only a couple of kilometres from the sea. They claimed to have found footprints on the shore, as well as seeing two dog-like animals in the lake swimming in a similar way to seals. Unlike most other fjörulalli sightings, they described them as "larger than horses." This may be unintentionally exaggerated, as they saw the animals from more than 100 yards away and had nothing to compare its size to, as the lake is quite large.