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Saltstraumen maelstrom

A maelstrom (IPA: /ˈmɛɪlstɹɒm/) is a very powerful whirlpool; a large, swirling body of water. A free vortex, it has considerable downdraft.

The Scandinavian word (malström or malstrøm) was introduced into English by Edgar Allan Poe in his story "A Descent into the Maelström" (1841). In turn, the Nordic word derives from the Dutch maelstrom, modern spelling maalstroom, from malen (to grind) and strom (stream), to form the meaning grinding current.[1]


Notable maelstroms



The original Maelstrom (described by Poe and others) is the Moskstraumen, a powerful tidal current in the Lofoten Islands off the Norwegian coast.[2] The Maelstrom is formed by the conjunction of the current forts that cross the Straits (Moskenstraumen) between the mentioned islands and the great amplitude of the tides. The Maelstrom’s name comes from the Dutch words malen, to crush and stroom, meaning current.

In Norwegian the most frequently used name is Moskstraumen or Moskenstraumen (current of [island] Mosken).

The fictional depictions of the Maelstrom by Edgar Allan Poe and Jules Verne describe it as a gigantic circular vortex that reaches the bottom of the ocean, when in fact it is a set of currents and crosscurrents with a rate of 18 km.[3]


Saltstraumen is the world's strongest maelstrom and is located east of the city of Bodø, Norway.


The Corryvreckan is the third largest whirlpool in the world, and is on the northern side of the Gulf of Corryvreckan, between the islands of Jura and Scarba off the coast of Scotland. Flood tides and inflow from the Firth of Lorne to the west can drive the waters of Corryvreckan to waves of over 30 feet (9 m), and the roar of the resulting maelstrom can be heard ten miles (16 km) away.

A documentary team from Scottish independent producers Northlight Productions once threw a mannequin into the Corryvreckan ("the Hag") with a life jacket and depth gauge. The mannequin was swallowed and spat up far down current with a depth gauge reading of 262 feet with evidence of being dragged along the bottom for a great distance. The programme was transmitted in the UK by Channel 4 under the title "Lethal Seas", while in the US on the Discovery Channel (the co-production partner) it was known as "Sea Twister!"[4]

Other notable maelstroms and whirlpools

Old Sow whirlpool is located between Deer Island, New Brunswick, Canada, and Moose Island, Eastport, Maine, USA.

Naruto whirlpool is located in the Naruto Strait near Awaji Island in Japan.

Skookumchuck Narrows is a tidal rapids that develops whirlpools, on the Sunshine Coast (British Columbia), Canada.

In popular culture

Two of the most notable literary references to the Lofoten Maelstrom date from the nineteenth century. The first is the Edgar Allan Poe story "A Descent into the Maelström" (1841). The second is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1869), the famous novel by Jules Verne. At the end of this novel, Captain Nemo seems to commit suicide, sending his Nautilus submarine into the Maelstrom (although in Verne's sequel Nemo and Nautilus survived).

In Spanish and other languages, Maelstrom is used as a synonym for whirlpool. Hence, the word "Maelstrom" appears in diverse contexts metaphorically to make reference to different subjects or objects that suggest great chaotic or sinister forces. The word maelstrom is used to denote powerful, inescapable destructive forces. For other popular culture uses of maelstrom, see Maelstrom (disambiguation).

Greek Poet Homer describes a maelstrom in his "Odyssey" as Odysseus must choose to sail near the six-headed monster Scylla, or near the whirlpool Charybdis in order to reach Ithaca.

The associative meanings has multiple projections into popular culture. In more recent times, Maelstrom was the name given by Blizzard Entertainment to the great vortex whirlpool that lies in the middle of the Great Sea in the video-game World of Warcraft. The Maelstrom is the most powerful Battleship offered by the Minmatar in CCP's MMORPG EVE Online. In the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" The Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman engage in a final battle while circling around an immense maelstrom. It has also lent its name to a live action role-playing game system run by Profound Decisions; a music project, synth MGP, initiated by Frank Martens, member of the Alphaville group, heavy metal band Vanguard has a song on their Erek and Ivor album titled "Aboard the Maelstrom"; and it is also the name of a Marvel Comics supervillain. It is also a name of a space sector in the video-game X3: Reunion by Egosoft.

The Maelstrom is a popular attaction located in the Norway area in the Epcot theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Visitors board Viking boats and travel through various scenes, culminating with a backwards drop down a small slope.


  1. ^ The Merriam-Webster new book of word histories. Merriam-Webster, Inc. 1991. p. 300. ISBN 9780877796039. 
  2. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica, 1958 edition.
  3. ^ B. Gjevik, H. Moe and A Ommundseb, "Strong Topographic Enhancement of Tidal Currents: Tales of the Maelstrom", University of Oslo, working paper, 5 Sep 1997 (a condensed version published as "Sources of the Maelstrom" in Nature, Vol 388 pp 837-838, 28 Aug 1997.
  4. ^ "Equinox: Lethal Seas". 

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MAELSTROM (whirlpool), a term originally applied to a strong current running past the south end of the island of Moskenaes, a member of the group of Lofoten Islands on the west coast of Norway. It is known also as the Moskenstrom. Though dangerous in certain states of wind and tide, the tales of ships being swallowed in this whirlpool are fables. The word is probably of Dutch origin, from malen, to grind or whirl, and strom or stroom, a stream or current. It appears on Mercator's Atlas of 1595.

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Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!


Developer(s) KDV Games
Publisher(s) Codemasters
Release date February 20, 2007
Genre Real-time strategy
Mode(s) Single player
Age rating(s) ESRB: T
Platform(s) PC
Media Cartridge
Credits | Soundtrack | Codes | Walkthrough
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