Dr KARL SHUKER

Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. Author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), and more recently Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), and Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), his many fans have been badgering him to join the blogosphere for years. The CFZ Blog Network is proud to have finally persuaded him to do so.

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Sunday, 15 July 2012

THE WHALE-FISH OF LAKE MYLLESJÖN

Richard Svensson's reconstruction of the Lake Myllesjön whale-fish (Dr Karl Shuker/Richard Svensson)

I am greatly indebted to Swedish cryptozoological artist/sculptor/film-maker Richard Svensson for bringing this hitherto little-reported lake monster to my attention, and also for so kindly presenting me with his wonderful model of it, depicted above.

Lake Myllesjön is situated in Richard's home province of Blekinge, in southernmost Sweden, and since at least the middle of the 19th Century reports have been circulating of a piscean monster inhabiting its cool waters, which is popularly referred to as the whale-fish. A flurry of sightings occurred during the 1920s and 1930s. One eyewitness, while riding by the lake on his bike, saw what he initially thought to be a massive log - until the water surrounding it began to churn, and the 'log' abruptly dived out of sight. Another observer claimed to have seen a huge fin-crested back rise above the surface, and considered it to be an immense pike, but no-one else supported this identity. Pike or not, local fisherman Sven Johan discovered two of his fishing nets ripped apart after hauling them out of the lake, and yet another man stated that he had seen a whale-like beast frolicking at the water's edge.

These and other sightings encouraged local talk about attempting to capture the monster, and after three girls fled from the lake, screaming in terror, after supposedly spying an animal resembling a whale basking in shallow water near the shore, an official plan of action was drawn up and set in motion. As Richard revealed in his account that he sent to me:

"The local blacksmith made a hook the size of a ping-pong bat, a piece of board was made as a float, and a steel wire chosen as line and tied around a slim oak tree. A butcher donated a dead piglet for bait, and the entire contraption was hurled out into the lake. The next day the oak tree was found uprooted, bobbing about in the middle of the lake, where it stayed for a whole week until it sank. Nothing more happened and the monster was believed to be dead."

Until August 1962, that is, when sightings of 'logs' splashing in the lake gained attention all over again. This time, the local response was to unleash a veritable hunting party in the monster's wake, consisting of 425 fishermen - each one competing against all of the others not only for the honour of procuring (and thence himself becoming) a living legend, but also for the financial recompense of 1000 Swedish kroner. Perhaps, however, it was a case of too many anglers spoiling the lake, because the biggest fish caught was a 2.9-lb perch.

Richard Svensson's illustration of the Lake Myllesjön whale-fish in my book Mysteries of Planet Earth, 1999 (Richard Svensson)

Returning to Richard's account of Myllesjön's monstrous history:

"In November 1962, several large hooks were manufactured and baited with dead chickens and calves' heads. Most newspaper stories say that the efforts went resultless, but others claim that at least one of the calves' heads disappeared. During 1963, the diving log was seen again, and in September another fishing competition was held: now with the prize of 10,000 Swedish kroner. Again, it proved to be an uneventful event."

Nevertheless, Richard knows of reports concerning Lake Myllesjön's mystifying whale-fish from as late as the 1970s. However, he fears that it may have since become an unsuspected victim of modern-day urbanisation. In 1996, he visited its watery domain, and discovered to his horror that a two-lane motorway had been constructed right next to the lake, and that the few houses still nearby are themselves newly-built, with their owners having little or no knowledge of the monster.

Richard has learnt of one other lake that was once said to harbour something similar to the Myllesjön whale-fish, but he now considers it likely (as do I) that both of these unidentified water beasts were specimens of Siluris glanis, commonly known as the wels or European giant catfish. According to Richard, the largest confirmed specimen ever caught in Sweden, in 1871, measured 3.6 m (11.8 ft) long. Moreover, the largest claimed specimen of all was a true monster of a fish, allegedly measuring 15 ft, which was caught in Russia's Dneiper River during the 1850s, but there is no physical validation for its size. Tragically, the same is true for the very existence of Lake Myllesjön's enigmatic whale-fish - gone if no longer forgotten.

Wels catfish (Wikipedia)

This post is excerpted from my book Mysteries of Planet Earth: An Encyclopedia of the Inexplicable (Carlton Books: London, 1999).

2 comments:

  1. Lake monsters are fascinating and there are many on all continents except Antarctica. In Africa's Lake Victoria lives a very dangerous creature called the Lukwata. Its physical description identity and size are controversial and conflicting. Its said to be anywhere from 12 feet to 100 feet long. One source says its 20 feet to 30 feet long. Some say it has a round head and some say it has a square shaped head. Some sources say it has a long neck(4 feet long) and some sources say it has barbs on its snout like a Catfish. Its body is said to be black or brown on top and white underneath. Most sources dont mention any limbs or flippers. Some say it has a Dolphin like body. It makes bellowing roars and is said to be violent and dangerous. It attacks and kills people and any animal it can catch. It frequently kills and eats large Crocodiles. It would lose pieces of its skin in these fights which some natives collect as amulets. Its been known to overturn canoes and kill the occupants in it. The European Sir Clement Hill saw a Lukwata in 1900 as it tried to snatch a man from his boat. Biologist E.G. Wayland collected a bone fragment from a Lukwata and heard its bellowing roars. If its a Mammal then its a Dolphin of Whale living in freshwater. If its a fish then it could be a Catfish or an Eel. Some believe its a snake such as a Python. Snakes generally dont roar and generally dont have vocal cords. Others believe its a Plesiosaurus or a longneck such as Nessie yet most sources dont mention any flippers. It could be an unknown species of Amphibian or fish. I personally believe its some kind of Dolphin or Whale living in freshwater. There are a few species of small Dolphins living in freshwater. These are gentle creatures. If the Lukwata is a Dolphin or Whale its an aberrant one as its unusually aggressive towards humans. Some believe the Lukwata has supernatural powers and magical powers. Parts of its body are believed to have magical powers. The role playing game Pathfinder has included the Lukwata and Dungeons and Dragons is considering adding it to its list of monsters. Authors Bernard Heuvelmans Michael Newton George Eberhart Daniel Cohen and Peter Costello mentions the Lukwata in their books. Alot remains a mystery. What is the population of these animals? How often is it sighted and at what points in the lake? How often does it attack and kill people and livestock? Its been sighted close to shore but it prefers more remote parts of the lake miles from shore. It seems it rarely comes close to shore. If it did it would be seen more often and there would be more attacks on people and livestock. Its a smart idea to stay out of the lake and especially the remote parts of the lake far from shore. The farther from shore the more dangerous it gets. Lukwatas are the most dangerous animals in the world. They have an aura of awe and power. A Lion is just a pussycat compared to a 20 foot to 30 foot long Lukwata. These animals are scary to say the least. Lukwatas are among Africa's deepest darkest mysteries.

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  2. Hey anoymous know of any dark/deep secrets in other parts of EurAsia,Australia,South&North America that the natives speak of aquatic monsters?

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