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Saturday, September 22, 2012

CRYPTOZOOLOGY: Richard Freeman comments on the latest Russian `Lake Monster` pictures


The recent pictures from Lake Labynkyr are, like most lake monster photos, dim, far away and inconclusive. The shape of the ‘head’ actually looks more like the head and shoulders of a swimming human  than anything else. The sonar readings are far more interesting.

The suggestions of prehistoric reptiles in these cold northern lakes seems to hold little water. The landlocked killer whale idea is not much better, as the animals would been seen when breeching in order to breathe. However I heard another story of ‘fresh water killer whales’ whilst hunting the almasty in Russia back in 2008.

Anatoly Sidorenkot, a Ukranian archeologist who was a member of our team old us some interesting cryptozoological snippets. Some years ago a friend of his was on a boat in the Lena River in Siberia when he encountered a strange creature. It had a black humped back and a 2 metre tall fin. It reminded him of a killer whale, but they were thousands of miles inland at the time. A man on the boat took two shots at the beast with a rifle. It turned and swam at speed towards the boat. The man pumped three more bullets into the creature and it dived under the boat and swam away. The description recalls creatures described from Lake Vorota in Siberia. The beasts here are up to ten metres long, have a dorsal fin and a wide head. Could they be some form of colossal fish?

Lake Labynkyr itself, and several other bodies of Siberian water have monster lore attached to them.

Lake Labynkyr lies on Sorongnakh Plateau in Eastern Siberia. It is a big lake nine miles long and 800 feet deep and also has an evil reputation. Locals are convinced that The Devil inhabits the lake. Gun dogs that have leapt into the water to retrieve shot ducks have been eaten by the monster. One man told of how the brute pursued his raft. He described a dark grey beast with an enormous mouth. Some reindeer hunters observed the monster coil up out of the water to snatch a passing bird.

In 1963 a small expedition visited both of these lakes. Four members observed an object 800 metres out on Lake Labynkyr. It emerged and submerged several times. They could not take photographs as the sun was setting. The following year three teams, each replacing the other in shifts visited the lakes. The third and final group saw the Labynkyr monster in the latter half of August.

Two expedition members saw a row of tree humps 100 metres from shore. They ran after the humps trying (unsuccessfully) to photograph them. The humps dived and rose together. It was not clear if they were separate animals or parts of one creature.

In 1964 two journalists from the Italian magazine Epoca visited Lake Labynkyr whilst travelling to Oymyakon. They were told that some time before a party of men saw a reindeer swim into the lake. The deer vanished and did not resurface. Then a dog swam on and vanished as well. Suddenly, and shrouded in a mist, a vast black monster rose snorting from the lake. One of the observers, apparently a scholar, was convinced the beast was a dinosaur. The locals flatly refused to take the journalists out onto the lake.

Another story concerns a hunter’s dog who swam out into the lake and was eaten by the monster. The grieving hunter constructed a raft out of reindeer skin and filled it with hot coals. He floated the smouldering raft out onto the lake. The monster snatched it and dived. It reappeared shortly making terrible sounds.

In the 1970s a lame horse belonging to some geologists was attacked in the night by some unknown predator. Alerted by the horses screams the geologists got up out of their sleeping bags to investigate. They were too late. Something large and powerful had already dragged the horse down into the lake. Locals said that they often found holes in the ice with strange tracks around them.

In a letter published in Komosomol’skaya Pravad on January 21st 2000 Vladimir Osadchy from Moscow stated that he and a group of tourists had visited the lake in November 1979. The tourists made their way out onto the frozen lake heading for a reservoir  two kilometres from the shore. Halfway there they stopped for a rest. An object like a black pillar was seen to rise up in the distance. A number of the tourists ran to investigate.

They reached the spot fifteen minutes later and ascended a bank two metres high. They discovered a patch of unfrozen water a metre across. The edges looked like they had been licked. It looked as if some aquatic animal had created a breathing hole. Upon returning they were told, by those who stayed behind, that they had observed the “pillar” rise several times again whilst they were gone. In the morning they search the area and found another breathing hole with licked edges.

In August 2000 a group of journalists from Komosomol’skaya Pravad travelled to the lake. Using sonar they detected two large moving objects at the bottom of the lake. The bigger of the two was eighteen metres (sixty feet) long.

In July 1953 a prospecting party led by Geologist VA Tverdokhelbov travelled to the Sorongnakh Plateau. The party arrived at Lake Vorota on a bright sunny morning. Tverdokhelbov and his assistant Boris Baskator observed an object some 300 metres out on the lake.

At first they thought it was a floating oil-drum, but soon realised that this was not the case as the object swam closer to shore. The pair climbed a cliff to get a better view. In Tverdokhelbov’s own word’s…

“The animal came closer, and it was possible to see those parts of it that emerged from the water. The breadth of the foreparts of the creature’s torso, evidently the head, was as much as two metres. The eyes were set wide apart. The body was approximately ten metres. It was enormous and of a dark grey colour. On the sides of the head could be seen two light coloured patches. On its back was sticking up, to a height of half a metre or so, was what seemed to be some kind of dorsal fin which was narrow and bent backwards. The animal was moving itself forward in leaps, its upper part appearing at times above the water and then disappearing. When at a distance of 100 metres from the shore it stopped; it then began to beat the water vigorously, raising a cascade of spray; then it plunged out of sight.”

Siberian lake monsters seem to be highly aggressive as the sightings from a lake in Southern Siberia seems to show.

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.


Our recent postings on this subject:

HERE, HERE and HERE

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