Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. He is the 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), Dragons: A Natural History (1995), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), The Unexplained (1996), From Flying Toads To Snakes With Wings (1997), Mysteries of Planet Earth (1999), The Hidden Powers of Animals (2001), The Beasts That Hide From Man (2003), 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), Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), Dragons in Zoology, Cryptozoology, and Culture (2013), The Menagerie of Marvels (2014), A Manifestation of Monsters (2015), Here's Nessie! (2016), and what is widely considered to be his cryptozoological magnum opus, Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors (2016) - plus, very excitingly, his first two long-awaited, much-requested ShukerNature blog books (2019, 2020).

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Sunday 22 November 2009



Some months ago, Richard Freeman in his blog was perplexed about the location of a certain Tibetan lake said to house monsters, which I was able to resolve by revealing that for reasons still unknown to me it has been referred to by a variety of different names, of which Lake Wembo is just one.

As it happens, moreover, there is another Chinese 'monster' lake that is mystifying me for a similar reason - over the years, its name has inexplicably changed, causing some confusion at first as to whether the two names did indeed refer to the same body of water. I refer to what was originally called Lake Hanas, but which in more recent years is now repeatedly called Lake Kanasi. Has the name officially changed, or it is merely a question of a different transliteration from Chinese to English being adopted (as with Peking to Beijing, for instance)? If anyone has any info, I'd love to receive it.

Meanwhile, for anyone who may not know about the fascinating monsters of Lake Hanas/Kanasi, here is what I wrote about them in 2002 within my book The New Zoo: New and Rediscovered Animals of the Twentieth Century (which will be republished in 2011 in a new, expanded, updated edition):


"Officially, the largest specimen of freshwater fish on record is a 15 ft European catfish Silurus glanis, caught in Russia's Dniepper River sometime prior to the mid-1800s (though this species as a whole is generally shorter than the pa beuk, officially deemed to be the world's largest freshwater fish). As a consequence, the lake-dwelling fishes reported in July 1985 by no less an authority than China's eminent biologist Prof. Xiang Lihao, from Xinjiang University, attracted appreciable scientific interest.

"In July, the professor and a party of students arrived at a large but remote body of water called Lake Hanas, situated in northwestern China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region, in order to examine its potential as the site of a future nature reserve. On 24 July, one of the students observing the lake from a watchtower built two years earlier noticed several huge reddish-coloured objects moving at the water's surface. When the professor and students scrutinised them closely through binoculars, they discovered to their astonishment that they were enormous salmon-like fishes, whose heads, tails, and spiny dorsal rays could all be clearly discerned. Just how enormous they were, however, was not revealed until the next day.

"That morning, while again being observed through binoculars by Xiang Lihao, one of the fishes very obligingly aligned itself in parallel with a stretch of the bank extending between two trees. Armed not only with binoculars this time but also with a camera, the professor took some photos, then measured the distance between the trees. Using this measurement, he was able to calculate from the photos that the fish was at least 33 ft long!

"A large salmon known as the taimen Hucho taimen is indeed known from several rivers in northern China, but this species' maximum recorded length is a mere 6.5 ft - far short of the Lake Hanas monsters. Worth noting is that giant red fishes in this lake have been reported for decades by local villagers, but as the lake had not previously attracted scientific attention such reports had not been widely circulated. Now, with an eyewitness of Prof. Xiang Lihao's scientific standing, there should be no question concerning their existence or authenticity as giant fishes. So unless they are abnormally huge taimen, the Lake Hanas fishes must surely comprise a spectacular new species, requiring formal description and study."

An updated account of these creatures will appear in my new, updated New Zoo.


  1. With all due respect, this sounds very much like a typical internet hoax, a fish story of the computer age. The mysterious Dr. Xiang Lihao, is only eminent via the viral circulation of this story among crypto type sites and bloggers.
    Here's the Formula: 1)Invent, or find the name of a remote foreign professor from 30 odd years back or more. 2)Give him false or enhanced credentials."eminent" "widely respected" etc 3)Place him in a remote area.
    4)Provide the claim of your wish.
    Viola, you have a new cryptid story for the net!

  2. Hi there, Thanks for your comment, and normally I would agree with you re this, as there have certainly been many reports that fit your description exactly. However, in this particular instance, the Lake Hanas/Kanasi monsters hit the headlines straight away, i.e. in 1985, not many years later. I have newspaper accounts of these creatures from that period, and the ISC (International Society of Cryptozoology) published a detailed account in its newsletter not long afterwards, enabling me to document them myself in 1993 within The Lost Ark (predecessor to The New Zoo, 2002), all at a time, therefore, when the internet was still very much in its infancy, especially for cryptozoology reports. So I do believe this case to be genuine, and, as such, potentially a major discovery if the fishes' size and taxonomic status can be confirmed. All the best, Karl

  3. Also: in 2007 a film purportedly of the creatures was released, and it certainly shows some very large, animate objects moving through the water.

  4. I cannot find Professor Xiang on the internet, but I don't know the character to search for. It looks like the university's site is here, but nothing comes up: http://www.xju.edu.cn/. Xiang is a very unusual Chinese name...is he Uighur?

    D. in Seattle, USA

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  6. There may or may not be a monster in the water, but this is more than an internet hoax. In Xinjiang, and in China in generall, this is a well-known lake-monster legend – not on par with Nessie, but at least with, say, Champ.

    The lake itself is no mystery (Here it is on Google Maps) and don’t worry about the name. Officially, it’s Kanasihu, where hu means lake. That’s from the Tuvan name, Kanas. Hanas is simply the Kazakh name instead. This part of Xinjiang is a Kazakh majority area.

    The lake is known for its beauty and is a pretty popular attraction in this part of the world.

  7. I have seen the actual movie camera footage and interview with the professor in question! It appears in a Chinese tourist information documentary. I used to have a link bookmarked and I'm sure I still have screenshots.

  8. To update my previous comment on this topic, I've now devoted a large segment of time to the lake Kanas giant salmon subject and have amassed enough material to do a detailed blog, which I will make freely available when I complete the work.

    1. That's great news! I look forward to reading it when you've completed it.