Variations: Ă-mi’-kuk, Ä-mi’-kuk
Kayakers in the cold seas of the Arctic Circle are the A-mi’-kuk’s favorite prey. The last thing they see are the a-mi’-kuk’s prehensile tentacles exploding from under the surface and wrapping around them, dragging both kayaker and boat under.
The a-mi’-kuk is large, leathery-skinned, and slimy. Its four long tentacular arms are used for seizing prey and swimming rapidly through the water. There is no escaping it – it will follow prey taking refuge on ice by swimming below it and bursting out onto the surface. Making for land is equally futile, as the a-mi’-kuk can swim through the earth with as much ease as it does through water.
A-mi’-kuks around St. Michael, Alaska, are known to migrate underground to inland lakes. The presence of one is a good sign for the lake. When an a-mi’-kuk leaves its lake, the channel it digs drains it dry, but when it returns the sea returns with it.
Nelson proposed the octopus as the origin of the a-mi’-kuk. He also gives ä-mi’-kuk as the name of the sea otter; what bearing this has on the legendary creature is unknown.
Nelson, E. W. (1887) Report upon Natural History Collections Made in Alaska Between the Years 1877 and 1881. Arctic Series of Publications Issued in Connection with the Signal Service, Government Printing Office, Washington.
Nelson, E. W. (1900) The Eskimo about Bering Strait. Extract from the Eighteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office, Washington.