Before I get to the monster, here's some insight into how I research creatures like this before statting them up. I first encountered the haietlik on Wikipedia. Now, I'm not one of those people who thinks Wikipedia is a den of crowd-sourced lies devoid of any merit, but I do think it is important to take information found on Wikipedia with a grain of salt, especially if the article is very short and relies entirely on a single source which is just a link to a defunct webpage. I liked the information that Wikipedia gave though: a sea serpent that hunts whales with its sharp head and lightning breath. I just needed this depiction of the monster to be confirmed by other sources.
My first step is to check my ever-growing library of books on mythology, folklore, and legendary creatures. Sadly, I do not yet have a book on the myths of Pacific Northwest Native Americans, and most general books on mythology tend to gloss over or largely ignore Native American myths. Fortunately, there is an entry on the haietlik in Giants, Monsters & Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth, by Carol Rose, one of my go-to reference works for mythological creatures. The entry (fairly good-sized for such an obscure monster) added that the haietlik hunted in coastal waters, that many pictograms of the beast could be found on rocks in the area, and that the skin of a haietlik brought good luck to whale-hunters. Unfortunately, it said nothing of the creature's lightning breath or knife-sharp head. None of my other books mentioned the haietlik, so I took to the internet again. Googling around for more information of stub Wikipedia articles about mythological creatures rarely bears fruit. Often, you will only find third-party wikis that regurgitate the same information from Wikipedia, cryptozoology wikis which have their own issues with reliability, and blogs of people talking about the esoteric monsters they've put in their own campaign settings (like this blog, I guess). I was hoping to luck out and find a website that records Native American myths (like this awesome bilingual about inuit myth) but I had no such luck here.
Stuck, I went back to the defunct link from Wikipedia and took it through the Internet Wayback Machine. Awesomely, the haietlik appears on the squadron badge of the RCAF's 442 Transport & Rescue Squadron. Their website, as it appeared in 2007, describes the haietlik as the whale-hunting, knife-nosed, lightning-shooting sea serpent that I initially saw on Wikipedia. I now have two sources to work from, which is less than I would like, but all I'm going to be able to get right now. And at least I have the knowledge that my interpretation of this mythical beast is at least in accordance with that of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
|Squadron Badge of the RCAF 442 Transport & Rescue Squadron|