Lake and River Monsters
This section covers some of the biggest names in cryptozology: the lake monsters. The most famous cryptid in history, the Loch Ness monster, falls into this catagory. The entries here will be somewhat longer than the others, because I will try and explain various theories as to the identities of the creatures. Almost every large lake has it's legendary creature, as it would make no sense for there to be no large animals in a large body of water, but since there are so many it is quite hard for me to find them all. I encourage anyone who knows of a lake or river monster I don't have listed to tell me about it, either through email or in the guestbook. help is much appreciated. There realy isn't any order here; I'll be jumping from country to country and continent to continent, so bear with me, eh?
Loch Ness monster (Lochs across Scotland EUROPE): Undoubtedly the most famous lake monster of all, and one of the most popular cryptids worldwide. Nessie, as the creatures are popularily called, has been plagued by a horrid misconception for nearly 100 years; the idea that the monsters are plesiosaurs, the long-necked marine reptiles of the mesozoic. I'll put it in little words so everyone will understnad; IT'S NOT A PLESIOSAUR! The creature isn't even plesiosaur-shaped; nessie has always been said to be serpentine, thickening around the middle a little bit but by no means plesiosaur shaped. This rules out the plesiosaur myth, and also the long-necked seal and giant turtle theories. This leaves us with several options. Some think nessie could be an elongated seal, or a giant otter. Others feel nessie is really a snake, or at least an elongate amphibian. The two most plausible theories, though, aren't too well known. One is that the creatures are really a giant, serpentine mollusc, like a big slug. it's antennae could be mistaken for small "horns". The other theory is that it is a giant eel. this makes an increasing amount of sense when you consider things such as the conditions of observation, the limnology of a lake such as the Loch, and the swimming habits of eels. some sightings, however, cannot be explained by this sighting, and remind one of the giant salamanders in China and Japan. who knows, really. you cannot explain away one of the greatest mysteries known to mankind in a paragraph. that's just not possible. even if nessie is explained away in due course, she'll always live on in our hearts. and in gift shops.
Ogopogo (Oganagan Lake in British Columbia NA): Another well-known and popular lake monster, the ogopogo is well known way back in history, native legends dating back as far as their history goes. The natives seem to think of the creatures in the lake as being the same as those in the sea, which are called sea-wolves. This could be true, but I don't lend too much credence to that theory. A long, serpentine creature, various things have been suggested for it's identity as well. Personally, I think it is a surviving population of zeuglodonts, ancient freshwater ancestors of whales which were extremely serpentine in shape. Others feel it could be a giant eel, a giant slug, some sort of reptile, or even an ancient monotreme-like mammal-reptile link. Another good theory states that the creatures are simply a population of sil:queys, and that they get much more notariety than most other sil:quey populations. Very well known to the locals, there is a reward of $2,000 offered by the government of Kelowna to anyone who captures one of the beasts. last time I was there, I saw absolutely nothing. figures.
Champ (Lake Champlain in New York, Vermont and Québec NA): This cryptid is the subject of the famous "Mansi photograph", showing a very plesiosaur-like creature with a long neck and thick body. This creature is also described as loking like that, a plesiosaur-like animal. A rather strange and very unlikely theory is that champ is a modern species of tanystropheus, an archosaurimorph reptile which lived over 200 million years ago in Europe, leading a very heron-like lifestyle, and it was certainly not aquatic. Whoever came up with that idea was grossly misinformed, either that or they just really really want to think that tanystropheus is still around. My opinion is that the champ creatures are a giant species of softshell turtle, probably black in colour. Softshells look so much like plesiosaurs it isn't funny, and unlike plesiosaurs, the long necks of softshells CAN bend vertically. Plesiosaur necks could not move up or down, and were permentently stuck straight out, only able to bend vertically a little. Softshell vertebrae have much more flexible connections and they can stick their necks almost straight upwards. their shells are soft and skin-like (hence the name), and it wouldn't surprise me if these giant softshells have actually lost their shell, it being reduced to a thick leathery skin. I'll probably go into this somewhere else as well.
Memphre (Lake Memphremagog in Québec NA): The most famous of the Québec lake monsters, this creature has had various descriptions given to it. All modern reports speak of an emmense serpentine beast, but the first known report told of a sheep-like animal with 13 pairs of legs! That was obviously NOT the same as memphre, probably just a drunken halucination. But the true memphre could be several things. It may not be serpentine, but perhaps the same thing as champ. Or it could be a zeuglodont, in the same vein as I think ogopogo is. However, it may be the same as some of the Ontario creatures, anmely Igopogo of Lake Simcoe, which is a land-locked seal of some sort.
Inkanyamba (South Africa AFRICA): The most famous individual inkamyaba is one which dwells beneath Howe Falls in South Africa. this, however, is not the only one. inkanyambas are common elements in the folklore of south African peoples, being huge water serpents with fore-flippers. cave paintings of such creatures are known as "rain animals" amongst archaeologists, cause they are always asociated with storms. a common beleif is that every summer the inkanyambas fling themselves intot he sky and become angry, wreaking havok everywhere they go. this is based on the fact that every summer the inkanyambas dissapear, at the same time that the summer storms occur. the snake-like shape of tornadoes help furthur the myth. inkanyambas are most likely some kind of emmense eel, hence the large fore-flippers and elongate body.
Lau and Lukwata (Upper Nile Swamps and the African Great Lakes AFRICA): Very large snake-like animals, the two closely related species are called the lau and lukwata respectively. They are said to be large carnivorous serpents, feared by the natives, which make a loud booming roar. One White hunter told of how a native on one of his ships sailing in Lake Victoria was plucked from the bow by a lukwata. The lau is said to be well built, and rather big around, with a large head. The lukwata is said to have a small head on a body which slowly gets larger as it moves towards the middle. Many people have speculated that these are freshwater elasmosaurs. I prefer to think they are giant water pythons of some kind, considering limbs of any kind are never mentioned.
White River monster (Near Newport in Arkansas NA): One of my long-time favourites, the white river monster is unusual for it's seasonal habits. nicknamed "whitey", this creature only shows up for a couple weeks a year, and then there is a gap of several years before it is seen again. it is said to be somewhat serpentine, with a spikey fin down it's back and a "horn" or bony projection coming out of it's snout. The most popular theory is that whitey is a misplaced elephant seal. I do not see how that fits at all. elephant seals do not have rows of spikes along their backs, forming a fin, and they do not have a horn-like projection coming out of their snouts. it was suggested that the "horn" could be the elephant seals trunk, but that doesn't explain the fin or the creature's seasonal habits. or that fact that elephant seals are from a different ocean than the one which the White River empties in to. Ivan T. Sanderson suggested that it could be "a truly colossal penguin". that is actually a better theory, but I doubt that. personally, I can't make heads nor tails of it. judge for yourselves.
Oklahoman lake beast (several lakes in Oklahoma NA): A strange, octopus- or squid-like creature has long been feared by the natives of this region, and is held responsible for the extremely high rate of drownings and dissapearences on lakes like Lake Tenkiller, Lake Thunderbird, and Lake Oolagah. it is said to be the size of a horse, with seeral large "arms" (tentecles) and tiny eyes, is reddish brown and has leathery skin. it makes absolutely no sound, and the natives liken it to a slug or leech. to me, this sounds very much like the ugly octopus-like creatures reported from the eastern states, and the skookums reported from western North America. these things are probably a species of giant freshwater octopus.
Pressie, South Bay Bessie, and others (Great Lakes in east-central USA and Canada NA): The Great Lakes have long been said to hold a large, serpentine beast, sometimes said to behave like a porpoise. In Lake Superior the creatures have earned the nickname "Pressie", and in Lake Eerie they have the name "South Bay Bessie". the creatures are seen in the other great lakes as well, and may be the same as the creatures said to inhabit the Lake Manitoba/Lake Winnipeg system. Although many researchers have written these creatures off as unusually large lake strugeon, I would like to propose the theory that these are really an enormous species of catfish. Catfish are known to be dangerous (the wels of europe has been known to eat human children; it grows to 9 fet in length), and as the Great Lakes creatures are said to get so big as to have a head the size of a car, a giant catfish could certainly account for their alleged ferocity. There is a photograph of one of the Lake Superior creatures (you can see it at cryptozoology.com) and one of the creatures in Lake Michigan was allegedly killed, stuffed, and kept in a local museum. The specimen may still be there, and if someone took the time to look through the records of all the museums in the Detroit region, we may find proof of the lake creatures.
Seljord serpent (Lake Seljordsvatnet in Telemark county, Norway EUROPE): One of the two famous Scandinavian lake monsters, the other being the Storsjoodjuret, this creature has much evidence for it's existence. Although it's official nickname is "selma", I prefer to call it the Seljord serpent. This creature is often described as eel- or crocodile-like, apparently having an elongate body and four small limbs, like a lizard or salamander. suprisingly, even nessie is sometimes said to possess tiny, crocodile-like limbs, not large flippers. The Seljord serpent has been observed not only as an adult, but also as a baby; a small lizard-like animal is said to represent the creatures young. One such creature was killed by a housewife washing her clothes in the lake, but the superstitions of the people were too strong to examine the little salamander-like creature. A larval stage? It has also been observed on land, and one land sighting told of tiny front limbs directly below the head. The GUST staff interpreted this as meaning the forelimbs were held benath the creatures head, assuming it had a long neck. but, that need not be the case. Crassigyrinus scoticus was an early tetrapod which had tiny hindlimbs directly behind its jaw; it was an aquatic super-predator, top of the lake and swamp foodchain. if one lake beast had tiny front limbs almost on it's head, then it's a sure thing that another animal will independantly develop that same design. it's called convergence. it happens, get over it.
Storsjoodjuret (Lake Storsjon in Jamtland county, Sweden EUROPE): This creature (it's name being pronounced stors-yoe-odd-yuret) is a large lake beast, described as eel- or crocodile-like, except it is said to have very large hind limbs with which it swims and tiny front limbs which dangle just beneath it's head. This creature has been reported since the mid-1600's, and there are many land sightings as well, all of them confirming that the creature moves in a strange undulating fashion (perhaps because it's forelimbs re so ridiculously tiny). One witness thought that the creature had to have been a cross between a mammal and a fish due it's odd, somewhat otter-like appearence. The beast is also said to raid crops planted near the lake, and to be dangerous to people. There have been reports of ears on the beast, almost always held down flat against it's neck. Nessie has been said to have "soft horns" on it's head; could these ears and "soft horns" be one in the same? could these animals represent some mammalian predator that has evolved parallel to Crassigyrinus?
Flathead Lake monster (Flathead Lake in Montana NA): Flathead Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in the Western USA, and it is quite fitting that a large lake should have a large inhabitant. It is described as a very fast, grey-coloured creature, rather similar to ogopogo and the like. It has been observed rubbing up against a pier, as if scratching itself. Flathead Lake has some of the cleanest water conditions in North America, and a flourishing biomass consisting of 10 natural species of fish and 15 introduced species. There may well be an 11th species of natural fish, if the cryptid concerned here turns out to be a giant species of sturgeon, but I think that the creatures may be a giant salamander of some kind. Or an eel. It can't really be detirmined by sitting in a chair and guessing, now can it?
Canavar (Lake Van in Turkey ASIA): Also known as Vanna or imply the Lake Van monster, this creature has created quite the controversey of late since the Lake Van footage was taken. This shows an object, presumed to be the monster, swimming at great speeds through the lake. Then there is a close up of the beast's presumed head. to me, it seems like it could be legitimate, although there is something odd about the way the creature moves. Contrary to popular misconception, the creature ws NOT just cooked up by Turkish media to attract attention to their country; for a legend of a beast in the lake goes as far back as all written history of the region goes, and there is a depiction of the beast in an ancient engraving in an ancient church on one of the lake's four islands. The canavar has been propose to be some sort of aquatic stegosaur, as it is said to bear triangular spikes on it's back. I, however, suscribe to a different theory which states that the canavar represents a second family of the Pholidota (pangolins/scaly anteaters). The plates on it's back and it's small head all support this theory, and a similar creature from the Congo (mbeuilu-mbeuilu-mbeuilu) may very well be another species of this proposed new family. However, Lake Van is an alkaline lake, and only one species of fish can survive in it. Whatever lives in there would have to feed on algae or on some small invertebrate.
Vorota beast (Lake Vorota in Siberia ASIA): One of several isolated lakes on the Sordongnokh tablelands which are said to contain monsters. The closest villiage is 120 kilometers away from the lake, and even so very few, if any, people ever visit the lake. They are afraid of the beast within. It was seen by a geologic expedition to the tableland, and sicne then a few expeditions have been sent to look for of, two out the three having seen the creature. It is described as being about ten meters long, with a head two meters wide with widely seperated eyes. It was grey in colour and had a dorsal fin about one meter high, being shaped like the fin of a shark or porpoise. It was said to move "in a jumping manner", in the fashion of a porpoise or penguin. Other sightings saw the same creature, sometimes describing "humps" on the surface. My personal opinion is that this is some kind of cetacean, like a porpoise or something.
Lake Labinkir carnivore (Lake Labinkir in Siberia ASIA): Another Siberian creature, the Lake Labinkir beast is feared because of it's dangerously agressive disposition and carnivorous habits. The first reliable reports date back to the 60's, as that is when people started to settle more aound the lake. People claimed to have seen the beast's neck rising from the lake, and that it made a sound similar to the cry of a baby; a high, shrill whining noise. Other witnesses saw the beast swimming beneath the lake ice, and said it was lizard-like. It should be mentioned that Lake Labinkir is freezing cold, and is covered in ice for much of the year. People have also observed the creatures rising out of the lake to catch birds in mid flight, and one hunter who sent his dog to retrieve a goose that had fallen in to the lake after being shot lost both the goose and his dog to the beast! I am really tempted to think of the parallel here to the sil:queys of North America, and to the various water tigers of different cultures around the world. if anything, a relative of the megalobatrachid salamanders that is adapted to a highly carnivorous lifestyle seems to be the best idea so far, although an odd seal-like carnivore could be responsible. I'll place my bets in the first category, though.
Khaiyr beast (Lake Khaiyr in Northern Russia ASIA): A strange beast seen in Nortern Russia, and feared by the locals. It seems that the lake is volcanic, and it seems quite likely that, given the habits of the beast, the loals fear the lake itself more than the creature within it. The animal was seen on land by a memeber of the research team sent to look for it. He saw it up on the bank, grazing on the grass along the side. It had a small head, longish neck, and a protruding dorsal fin. It was seen again by the team, this time by three people, and it behaved in a strikingly similar way to the Vorota beast. My opinion is that this creature represents a mammalian herbivore which is just beyond the hippopotomus-stage; it is pretty well adapted to aquatic life, but still feeds on shore rather than in the water. due to the isolation of this northern lake, ushc odd adaptations could arise. isolated areas in Russia and Siberia seem to be a gold-mine for large unknown animals; get out there damnit!
Kokkol (Various lakes in the Central Asian part of Russia ASIA): Named after Lake Kokkol, where one such beast was seen by an archaeologist and his son, the kokkol creatures are large serpents said to dwell in various lakes in this part of Russia near Mongolia and China. The beasts are said to be emmense serpents, perhaps 20 meters long, inhabiting the cold lakes. In my opinion, these represent giant eels or similar creatures of some form or another.
Brosnie (Lake Brosno in Russia, 250 miles north west of Moscow ASIA): A creature which is mentioned in local folklore dating back to at least 1854, "Brosnie" is considered as an iridescent lake dragon. A photo of the beast shows a panoramic view of the lake with a shing iridescent object near the front. One witness drew a sketch of what she saw, showing a big snake-like head with an eye on the side. I don't quite know what to make of this, perhaps a large water-snake of some kind.
Cuero (Lago Lacar in the Southern Andes SA): Also known as El Bien Peinado, cuero is one of the few well-known South American lake monsters. Cuero means "cow-hide", saying that the creature's back (all that is usally seen" resembles a cow's hide, while El Bien Peinado translates to "the smooth-headed one", in reference to the resemblance of the creature's back to a bald head. Strange tracks are often found around the lake, as are the remains of prey animals; fur, feathers, bones and the like. To me, this seems like the descendant of a known carnivorous animal which has taken up an aquatic existence. maybe, it's just an example of the "water tigers" which are said to hail from Argentina.
Tullimonstrum (Possibly in many lakes around the world): During the Pennsylvanian period, approx. 300 million years ago, there dwelt a carnivorous invertebrate known as Tullimonstrum gregarium. This soft bodied creature, of unknown taxonomic standing, is a major candidate for many lake monsters. Everything from Nessie to ogopogo has been explained with the tulimonstrum theory. This little creature (I don't actually know how big it was, apparently it wasn't that large) had a long proboscis with a mouth on the end (looks sort like a head and neck...), two large stalked eyes on eiter side of the body (mistaken for flippers?), two large posterior fins and a thrid tail fin. Overall, if it were to attain an emmense size it would be the perfect lake monster, and Mussie of Muskrat Lake has been proposed to be such a creature. . Who's to say a modern descendent of Tullimonstrum isn't responsible for such lake monsters? Me, for one. I do not condone the "prehistoric survivor" nonsense that is pushed so often. Pliestocene megafauna had no real reason to die out, so their continued existence isn't surprising in the least. but ancient species, which have been replaced a hundred times by identical forms of different ancestry, could not continue on if they have been replaced! thus, if something like Tullimonstrum even DOES exist, it'd be that way because of convergence. ya hear? good...