Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Friday, January 22, 2010

LINDSAY SELBY: Lake Voronta beast

I have been unable to find out much about the Voronta Beast, which is said to live in Lake Voronta in Siberia. The lack of information could be because access to the lake is not easy and the nearest village is over a 100 miles away. Not a place to find a journalist hanging about!

In July of 1953 a geologist, V. A. Tverdokhlebov, and his assistant claimed that they saw a creature in the lake whilst doing some work in the area. It was a perfect, windless day and the two at first thought it was a petrol drum floating roughly 300 feet (100 metres) from the shoreline. As the lake is so isolated, though, it was unlikely that it was an oil drum dumped in the lake. It was then that they realised that the object was alive. Tverdokhlebov described the creature as a dark grey colour, about 30 feet (10 metres) in length and about 6 feet (2 metres) wide. On its head, he thought he could see two light-coloured patches. The dorsal fin of the creature was bent backwards and it appeared to be moving like a dolphin, in forward leaps. After a while, still at 300 feet away (100 metres) from shore, it began to wildly splash the water before plunging mysteriously out of sight.

Another geologist who remained anonymous also witnessed something in the lake. He described the monster as "an ominous-looking dark grey shape. Its body resembled an oversized, glistening, tin-barrel with a slanted horn rudder on its back".

There have been other sporadic small Soviet expeditions sent to Lake Voronta to collect evidence of the creature but none, as far as we know, have been successful.

So what was it? Most seem to think it was some sort of dolphin or whale. The questions are, how did it get there and was it the only creature in the lake? In such an isolated spot it was unlikely to have been introduced into the lake as a single entity like a discarded pet. Hopefully further expeditions may visit the lake and with modern equipment find some evidence of what it was, or if it is, or its ancestors still there.


Dale Drinnon said...

The lake's name is usually spelled "Vorota" in the standard works, but I have not checked to see if that is correct.

The usual identification is that it was a cetacean: I prefer a giant sturgeon myself, especially since the majority of the inland-Asian Lake Monsters appear to be big (Huso) sturgeons, which can reach a length of 30 feet long. Such sturgeons ARE known to live in the Amur River and its tributaries: the Chinese name for them is "Hwang"(Also spelled as "Hwarng", meaning yellow.)

Dale Drinnon said...

Kindly allow me to rephrase that first statement: I did a fast-check before and it just so happens the source spelled the lake's name as "Vorota". But I did some more checking and it seems most sources do spell it "Voronta". Sometimes multiple sources will spell the names of the Lakes with "Monsters" in them more than one way.

And I did not mean that the lake was connected to the Amur River, only to say that the sturgeons ARE known to be there. The lake in question is on a river that drains to the Arctic Ocean, in a different direction than the Amur River, which runs to the East.

By far the bigger problem is that some authors insist on saying that these Lake Monsters are long-necked. In fact they are not, they are fish-shaped.

Dr Hook said...

I wonder if these monsters are at all related to the animals of Lake Hanas, in China. Both appear to be species of fish, and whilst a salmonoid seems to the the prime culprit for the Hanas fish, I think a species of sturgeon may still be an answer.

Assuming them to be sturgeons, then one would also assume that they have developed the ability to reproduce, contrary to the genus' anadromous lifestyle ?