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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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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

RICHARD FREEMAN: THE MAN EATER OF LAKE CHANY

The latest Russian Lake Monster story has taken the cryptozoological world by storm, and today both Richard Freeman and Dale Drinnon provide their own unique takes on the events...


One of Russia’s largest lakes seems to be the home a large, powerful and dangerous creature that locals say has killed 19 fishermen. Lake Chany is virtually unknown in the west but it is a vast expanse of water covering 770 square miles. Its is 57 miles long by 55 miles wide but is fairly shallow at only 23 feet deep with an average depth of only 6 feet. Lake Chany is in the southern part of the province of Novosibirsk Oblast close to the borders of Kazakhstan.

The creature involved in the attacks is described as serpentine and huge. The beast claimed its latest victim, a 59 year old fisherman last week. 60 year old Vladimir Golishev was in the boat then the creature overturned it and dragged his friend away. He told the Daily Mail...

“I was with my friend some 300 yards from the shore. He hooked something huge on his bait and stood up to reel it in. But it pulled with such force it overturned the boat. I was in shock-I had never seen anything like it in my life. I pulled off my clothes and swam for the shore, not daring hope I would make it. He didn’t make it and thy have found no remains. It’s time to find out the truth.”

In 2007 a 23 year old special services soldier, Mikhail Doronin was lost when something capsized his boat. His 80 year old grandmother Nina was watching from the shore and said that the lake was calm. Her husband 81 year old husband Vladimir said “Something on an awesome scale lives in the lake, but I have never seen it.”

Official figures say that 19 people have vanished in the lake in the past three years. Locals say the figure is actually much higher and that remains have washed ashore with bite marks showing large teeth.

Now fishermen are demanding an official probe.

Lake Chany is too far north and far too cold for crocodiles.

In Kazakhstan there is a tradition of gigantic black snakes 10 meters long. On my almasty expedition in 2008 the Ukrainian archeologist Anatoly Sidorenko told me that he had seen such a serpent in Kazakhstan and his father, an experienced hunter in his youth had seen one as well. Snakes how ever swallow their food whole and do not bite it into pieces.

The creature could be a gigantic eel or alternatively something unknown to science. It may be a giant semi-aquatic reptile, possibly one that hibernates in winter. The case brings to mind medieval stories of lake and mire dwelling dragons. The long and short of it is that as it stands there is too little information on which to make a decent guess at the nature of the beast.

This story runs like something out of a Hollywood horror movie. A giant serpentine monster lurking in a lake and eating human victims. A community held in terror and demanding an investigation. One wonders if an offical investigation will ever take place and if it does, what it will find?

7 comments:

Dale Drinnon said...

There are definitely reports of gigantic eels both in European Russia further to the west and then again in Siberia much further to the east. But not generally in this part of Russia. On the other hand, there are other reports of Water Monsters in this part of that country which are described as eel-like BUT with a head described much like that of a sturgeon AND a body estimated as twice too long (60 feet instead of 30 feet, when the latter would be proportionate to the sturgeon-shaped head)
So fo that reason alone I think the sturgeon explanation is correct and the estimated elongated eel-like body is a misjudgement and probably once again based on views of the wake rather than the actual body.

And I'd be pleased if you wanted to add something at the end of my blog, too, Richard, We're in this thing together you know.

Aaron T said...

"The creature could be a gigantic eel or alternatively something unknown to science.

All eels reproduce in the ocean, and Lake Chany is isolated - it has snow-melt rivers flowing in but none flow out, so eels can't get in. It is also rather saline, but there is a commercial fishery and the species list sounds like a typical English canal - Roach, Pike, Perch, Zander and introduced Carp. It is frozen from October to April, but reaches 20 C in July.

I have a healthy respect for Russian science and doubt they would miss a monster in the midst of a well-studied lake.

My best guess for the creature's identity is Esox exaggeratus combined with CH3CH2OH. ATN

Dale Drinnon said...

In this case, you will have to admit that the photograph does not resemble any part of an eel.

My guess is a large sturgeon, but the pike suggestion also has merit: pikes are quite vicious at times. But the Huso sturgeon has been known to run into and turn over small boats: it has the requisite mass to do such a thing, which to my mind swings things in its favor.

Kent McManigal said...

Aren't sturgeons toothless?

Aaron T said...

I recommend a read of:

"Large saline lakes of former USSR: a summary review".N.V.Aladin & I. S. Plotnikov, Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Science, St. Petersburg, Russia.

from:
www.zin.ru/labs/brackish/pdfs.html

No mention of eels or sturgeon in the lake - if they were present they would probably be the most commercially important species. I am not aware of freshwater eels being recorded East of the Kanin Peninsula as it is too far from the Sargasso, and none come through the Bering Strait. The biggest freshwater eel ever caught is still only 5 kg and less than 2 m long. Siberian sturgeon are of course famous in the North-flowing rivers of Siberia and it is possible that some have been farmed and escaped there since the paper was written. They grow to about 2 m length.

As for the photograph, I think it is a red herring. In the present hot weather Russians are drowning at a fearful rate, usually intoxicated, and I suspect that this may have happened at Chany. ATN

Adam Davies said...

As Richard and I have briefly discussed, this seems an excellent prospect for an expedition. We shall explore some logistics on it.......

Markus B├╝hler said...

The sizes seems very exagerated. But there is a possible identification, which could explain a lot. The european wels catfish Silurus glanis can grow quite large. There are very exagereated dates about its size, lengths up to 5 m and weights of 300 kg and more, which are completely absurd, and far away from everything ever actually confirmed. But there are some confirmed specimens close to 3 m. The long serpentine shape of the wels can look extremely "monster-like" when it comes close to the surface, and is very hard to estimate in size from some distance.
BTW, there are NO confirmed records of any sturgeon of 30 feet, the largest ones ever reliably confirmed were "only" around 5,5 -6 m in length.