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▶ Storsjöodjuret

Fisheries officer Ragnar Björks, 73, was out checking fishing permits on Sweden’s Lake Storsjön when he had the fright of his life. From the placid waters a huge tail suddenly broke the surface near Björk’s 12 foot row boat. The colossal creature attached to the tail appeared to be 18 feet long, grey-brown on top with a yellow underbelly. When Björks was alongside the monster, he struck at it with his oar, hitting it on the back. Angered, the creature slapped the water with its tail and the rowboat was thrown nine to twelve feet into the air. “At first I didn’t believe that there was any monster in the Storsjön…but now I am convinced.”

Does Nessie have a relative in Lake Storsjön in the mountains of Northern Sweden? A large unknown creature has been seen in the lake for over 350 years. Since 1987 the Society for Investigating the Great Lake has collected some 400 reports of “Storsjöodjuret,” as the Swedes call the monster.

There is no clear picture of the beastie. Some witnesses describe a large neck undulating back and forth that looks like a horse’s mane; others observed a large wormlike creature with recognizable ears. Reports of the creature’s size range from 10 to 42 feet in length.

Like the Loch Ness Monster, one of the numerous theories is that during the Ice Age 15,000 years ago, the monster may have become trapped in the Swedish Lake.

Loch Ness and Lake Storsjön are not isolated cases of lakes that are believed to harbor monsters. In Europe there are also reports of such creatures from Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Norway, Wales, and elsewhere. In fact, there are over 250 lakes around the world which are believed to be inhabited by monsters.

There is a common pattern in the lake monster puzzle: the animals all are found in lake and river systems that are either connected to the sea or have been in the past, and these systems all either harbor or once harbored migratory fish. In many cases, the lakes are deep and cold.