Phosphorescent Eyes

An unusual characteristic that is sometimes described among water monsters is “phosphorescent eyes.” This has attributed to the Yacumama—known to many as the Giant Anaconda—the massive water snake of the Amazon.  Take the following excerpt from my book Water Monsters South of the Border:

…the Yacumama’s eyes are phosphorescent; when spotted at night, the creature’s eyes have been mistaken for the navigational lights that are common to the boats that travel the Amazon.3

Mention of the bluish, phosphorescent eyes of the Yacumama brings to mind an interesting encounter. In 1929, a priest, Father Victor Heinz, was travelling at night on a river. Heinz saw a huge snake in the water. The snake had such large eyes—phosphorescent eyes—that Heinz initially mistook the snake for the navigational lights on a steamboat.4

Father Heinz had another encounter with the legendary Yacumama seven years earlier. Heinz was travelling along the Amazon River by canoe with several companions. He witnessed a massive snake whose visible portions were an estimated 80 feet in length. Heinz described the body of the snake as being as big around as an oil drum.5

Consider the following headline from The Dothan Eagle (Dothan, Alabama) from September 3, 1934:

The report details a monster in a lake in France that caused quite an uproar after a rash of sightings. The creature was said to be 25 feet long and covered with scales. The monster was described as a “prehistoric beast with phosphorescent eyes.”


Notes

3. George Eberhart, Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2002), 189.

4. Karl Shuker. “Giant Anacondas and Other Super-sized Cryptozoological Snakes.” ShukerNature. September 20, 2013. Accessed June 07, 2016. http://karlshuker.blogspot.com/2013/09/giant-anacondas-and-other-super-sized.html.

5. Ibid.

Pig-nosed Monster Fish

A “pig-nosed” fish—massive in size, was caught for a second time recently. According to an article in the Fox News Science section:

A massive 700-pound, 10-foot-long, 5-foot-wide sturgeon — affectionately known as “Pig Nose” — has been caught for the second time in two years in the Fraser River, the longest waterway British Columbia, Canada. 

The “pig-nosed” character of this fish reminds me of the “Eel Pig” from Herrington Lake, Kentucky.  The following is an excerpt from my first book:


Herrington Lake is a manmade lake in central Kentucky, about 30 miles from Lexington. There are tales of a strange monster that lurks in the depths of the lake. Herrington Lake was created by the flooding of the Dix River in the 1920s. Kentucky Utilities constructed the Dix Dam; the resulting reservoir has been used as a source of hydroelectric power for the region. At the time of the construction of the dam, it was considered an engineering feat; it was the largest rock-filled dam in the world.1

Herrington Lake is quite deep. In fact, it is the deepest lake in Kentucky reaching a maximum depth of 249 feet and a mean depth of 78 feet. The lake covers 2,335 acres, the equivalent of 3.648 square miles.2

Herrington Lake is well-known for its good fishing; anglers from all over the Commonwealth of Kentucky flock to the lake each year in pursuit of catfish, crappie, striped bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass, and white bass.

In addition to great fishing, the lake is also known for a creature best described as an “eel-pig;” a strange monster that is 15 feet long and has a distinctive pig-like snout and curly tail. The eel-pig is said to be able to swim at speeds that rival a boat.

Reports from the Early 1970s

The best reports, and most often cited, come from 1972 when Lawrence S. Thompson spoke of what he saw in an interview. Thompson, a classics professor at the University of Kentucky, kept a second home on Herrington Lake. During the four years that Thompson owned his lake home, he had noticed something unusual swimming in the water at various times.3

Thompson never got a good look at the body of the creature. What Thompson saw multiple times was a pig-like snout gliding above the water with a curly tail following about 15 feet behind. The speed with which the creature moved was similar to that of a boat equipped with a trolling motor.4

What was Professor Thompson seeing in Herrington Lake in the 1970s? Was it a monster? According to the professor, the creature was shy, and he also had this to say: “it’s a monster only in the sense that you’d call an alligator or a crocodile a monster if nobody else had ever seen one.”5

Explanations

The biggest question, when considering the existence of a cryptid dwelling in a manmade lake, is—How did it get there? Professor Thompson offered a theory concerning this; a theory that is a variation of themes presented in this book and elsewhere. Thompson proposed that the mysterious creature might be something prehistoric that has escaped observation and detection. He thinks that its ancestors may have swam up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers millennia ago. Moreover, Thompson said that a monster, or many generations of monsters, could have survived in caves. Once the caves became submerged by the construction of Dix Dam, the creature(s) swam out and now inhabit Herrington Lake.6 Of course this scenario is unlikely, maybe even laughable to some—but as improbable as this theory may be, does the possibility exist?

Other, and perhaps more plausible, explanations exist. One theory is that people might be seeing alligator gar in Herrington Lake. Alligator gar, which are capable of reaching lengths of 10 feet or more, are known to exist in the lake. Alligator gar also have elongated, distinctive snouts—perhaps this could explain the unique, recognizable snout of the eel-pig.

Another scenario that has been proposed is that the eel-pig might actually be an alligator. Although Kentucky is north of the American alligator’s territory, its range has been inching northward for some time—most likely due to climate change. It has been well-documented that alligators, which are not native to Virginia, are steadily inching closer to Virginia’s border with North Carolina.

In February of 1990, Sherri Hurst claims to have seen an alligator in the lake; she even phoned a local newspaper to report her story. Though her story was widely mocked, Hurst has steadfastly stood by her claims. “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it,” said Hurst, who visits Florida on a regular basis and claims to know exactly what alligators look like.7


Notes

  1. “Herrington Lake.” LakeBrowser. Accessed November 14, 2015. http://www.lakebrowser.com/kentucky/herrington_lake.asp.
  2. LakeBrowser, “Herrington Lake.”
  3. Joe Ward. “Monster Reported Swimming in Herrington Lake.” Louisville Courier-Journal, August 7, 1972.
  4. Ward, “Monster Reported Swimming in Herrington Lake.”
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Liz Maples. “Tales Still Surface of Creature in Herrington.” Central Kentucky News. September 12, 2005. Accessed November 14, 2015. http://articles.centralkynews.com/2005-09-12/news/24894105_1_monster-dogs-lawrence-thompson.

 

Lake Monster Smashes Boat—Men Thrown Overboard

The Evening Herald, a newspaper from Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, reported an encounter in which a lake monster attacked a boat with four men inside in their June 22, 1893 issue. The incident occurred in Bass Lake outside of Knox, Indiana.

George Scoville, the attorney who represented President Garfield’s assassin, went fishing with Sheriff Vanderweele, attorney Beeman, and auditor Knosman on a day when something that defies explanation occurred.

Beeman had tied a large lure on his line and hooked into something massive. After a lengthy fight, the “fish” began to tire out and Knosman helped him pull it toward the boat. Before the pair could land the fish, it sprang back into action; it darted off and smashed its mighty tail into the boat. With that, Beeman and Knosman were thrown into the water. Scoville and Vanderweele managed to swim to shore after the boat had sank in 12 feet of water. Knosman and Beeman were rescued by nearby boaters.

The foursome described the monster as being 40 feet long and 3 feet thick; it has a large, pointed head; the creature was greenish-black in color and had no discernable fins.

Two years prior to the event, a rowboat was capsized after something swimming fast crashed into it. The summer before, the steamship City of Kokomo was pulled by something that became tangled in its anchor lines. Stories go further back—in 1881, something huge tore a large hole in a farmer’s seining net. He did not get a glimpse of the monster.

Dog-eating Lake Monsters

Going through some newspaper clippings the other day, I found one that I clipped some time back titled “Lake Monster of Soviet Eats Dogs.” It was from the Eureka Humboldt Standard and appeared in the October 1, 1963, issue.

The article described the “Labynkyr Devil,” a lake monster said to inhabit Lake Labynkyr in Siberia. The article stated that there had been a rash of sightings and that on one a occasion, a hunter’s dog was swallowed by the creature.

A water monster swallowing dogs—though uncommon—is not entirely without precedent. In my book Water Monsters South of the Border, I wrote about a slug-like snake that inhabits the Chaco Swamps in Paraguay called the Manguruyú. Said to reach 18 feet in length and over 1,000 pounds, some believe the creature is an enormous catfish. The manguruyú is known to pull people under the water where they quickly drown. There are accounts of grown men being swallowed whole by these giants. Indigenous people in Paraguay tell of bathers being attacked, and dogs have been observed being pulled into the water.

The Labynkyr Devil 

The following piece is something I wrote in January 2017. I thought that today I would share it again.


Siberia’s Yakutia region is home to a lake monster whose stories date back to the late 1800s when documented sightings began to be recorded. However, legends of the monster go back much further. The creature is known as “Labynkyrsky Chert” or the Labynkyr Devil—named after Lake Labynkyr where the monster dwells. 

Nicknamed “Siberia’s Loch Ness Monster,” the Labynkyr Devil has made its rounds in the news lately after new sightings have been reported.  

A Man’s Quest for Answers 

At the time of this writing, Andrey Solovyev has spent over 100 days—alone—on Lake Labynkyr. Enduring temperatures that dip below –50 °F, Solovyev has made a home in a small wooden shack. His closest neighbor nearly 100 miles away.   

What would drive a man to live in isolation in one of the harshest environments on Earth? One motivation is to test his survival skills. In the world in which Solvyev came from, he works in the tourism industry; he also teaches survival skills. What better way to determine where your survival skills rank than to spend a winter alone on Lake Labynkyr? 

The biggest reason Solovyev stationed himself on Lake Labynkyr is to try and obtain evidence for the existence of the devil that lives in the lake. He has always been intrigued by the stories of the creature and wanted to come to the lake and find out first-hand if the monster exists. 

Recently, he may have had his own encounter. He claims to have momentarily caught a glimpse of a large dark creature as it broke the water. There is no way for him to know what he saw, but he believes it may have been the monster. His belief is strengthened by another incident that occurred in September—his fishing nets were torn apart by something. His nets were torn to shreds and he found holes meters in diameter; an impossibility for any known animal in the lake. 

A History of Sightings 

Tales of a monster in Lake Labynkyr have been passed down for generations among the locals. A description of the beast has been obtained from eyewitness reports: it has dark gray coloring; it is 30 feet long and 4 feet wide; the monster has a massive jaw full of razor-sharp teeth—the jaw is about a third the size of its body; the beast has a bony protrusion on its head, almost like a horn; the animal is also said to be very aggressive and has been heard emitting a “primeval cry.” 

There is a chilling story of a dog who disappeared at the hands of the Labynkyr Devil. The dog swam out into the lake to retrieve a duck that its owner had shot and was suddenly attacked by a monster. The hunter saw a pair of huge jaws suddenly appear out of the water and his dog simply disappeared into them.  

There is another report that indicates something might be preying on the seagull population in the lake. There is an island in the middle of the lake where many destroyed seagull nests were found. The nests were crushed with birds inside. Many of the birds were apparently eaten, while others lay dead.  

Many monster sighting accounts come from fisherman on the lake who occasionally see a massive, dark gray creature briefly come to the surface. There are several instances in which the boats of anglers are lifted or rocked by large waves that are created when the monster comes to the surface. In one instance, a boat sank after it was capsized by a sudden large wave—believed to have been caused by the Labynkyr Devil. 

Recently, a group of geologists were fishing in the lake when they noticed the head of a massive creature in the water. There were several onlookers on shore who saw the creature as well; they began shooting guns to scare the beast away. 

The creature(s) in Lake Labynkyr have been detected on sonar many times both by amateurs and scientists conducting research at the lake. Dr. Lyudmila Emiliyanova of Moscow State University in one such researcher. “The object was very dense, of homogenous structure, surely not a fish, nor a shoal of fish, and it was above the bottom.” She went on to say that she could not offer an explanation for the identity of the object. 

During a separate expedition in 2008, large objects were detected on a fish-finder. One such object was over 21 feet long. An expedition member, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It was pretty clear that it was not a fish and not a tree. There cannot be fish that big, and a log would have registered in a different way. How can it swim under water?” 

In 2013, a diving team claimed to have captured evidence of mysterious, large jaws and a skeleton using an underwater scanner. 

There is a tale of a local who found a large jaw that when stood up, it formed an arch large enough for a horse to pass underneath.  

Dr. Emiliyanova, who has been to the region twelve times, believes in the validity of the monster reports from Lake Labynkyr. “Personally, I do believe that when the information about something strange circulates among local people for so many years, it just can’t be groundless, it means something is there.” She is also impressed with the character and honesty of the local people and claims, “they do not lie.” 

Some Closing Thoughts 

Something that stands out in the lore surrounding the Labynkyr Devil are rumors that Lake Labynkyr is connected to another lake, Lake Vorota, which is about 12 miles away. The water level in Lake Vorota is nearly identical to that in Lake Labynkyr—Lake Vorota has also had many reports of a similar creature in its waters. Dr. Emilyanova said, “some scientists believe that this lake is connected with other lakes on the same plateau, at least with Vorota, via some underground tunnel system.” 

Lake monsters and rumors of underwater tunnels that connect various lakes go hand in hand. Lake Tahoe, home to “Tessie,” is rumored to have a connection to other lakes in the region—most notably, Pyramid Lake where monster sightings have occurred. Lake Pohenegamook, in Quebec, is home to a monster known as Ponik. Lake Pohenegamook is rumored to have a subterranean connection with nearby Lake Temiscouata where monster sightings occasionally take place. The Obojoki, in Iowa, is rumored to travel between the “Iowa Great Lakes” using a system of underwater tunnels. Some believe that the tunnel network may extend as far as the Gulf of Mexico! 

If a monster exists in Lake Labynkyr (and Lake Vorota), what could it be? 

Speculation abounds as to the identity of the Labynkyr Devil. One controversial theory suggests that the monster is a killer whale—part of a “landlocked” remnant population that adapted to fresh water after the plateau on which Lake Labynkyr sits was cut off from the Sea of Okhotsk. 

There are other theories as well. Perhaps a surviving remnant of ichthyosaurs somehow survived into the present day. Maybe a small group of plesiosaurs defied the odds and are alive today in the cold Siberian waters. 

At any rate, whatever the truth may be, there are those who are dedicated to finding it. This is a refreshing departure from the normal mockery of the lake monster phenomenon.  

Further Reading: 

The Siberian Times has a number of online articles that can be accessed by the following link: http://siberiantimes.com/search/?text=lake%20Labynkyr&tag=1 

 

Sea Serpent Attacks Boaters

137 years ago, the New York Evening Star reported a harrowing encounter between fishermen and a sea serpent. The event took place on Cayuga Lake, the longest of New York’s Finger Lakes. The Finger Lakes were formed by glaciers during the last ice age. In my research into the lake monster phenomenon, it is glacial lakes such as these that hold the bulk of lake monster sightings. Cayuga Lake reaches a depth of 435 feet and maintains an average depth of 182 feet—perfect for a large cryptid to dwell and remain undetected.

The encounter occurred on a summer evening when a salesman from Broadway was fishing with a local farmer. The pair were trolling and two fish carriages were trailing behind the boat. Suddenly, a whirlpool emerged; one of the carriages disappeared and the rope was taught. Shortly thereafter, a dark shadow appeared through the water and a large, hideous head broke the surface. The head was shaped like that of an alligator; it was about 12 feet in length and sported rows of razor-sharp teeth. The creature had tentacles and was covered in scales.

The monster proceeded to attack the boat. It filled its mouth with water and sprayed the two men. The boat driver, the farmer, pulled the anchor and headed for a small island. Before the fishermen could reach land, the creature dived at the boat.  The salesman struck the monster several times with a gaff and the pair made it safely onto the island. However, in all the commotion, the boat drifted away. The pair waited on the small island until sundown until they waded to shore.

The following day, a search party was organized to look for the beast but it was never spotted again. According to the salesman, it was widely believed that monster disappeared via a subterranean passage. He personally believed the creature would resurface in the Atlantic Ocean at some point.

Whatever you think of the story—tall tale or plausible—two features stand out: the creature was spotted in a glacial lake, which was discussed earlier; and, the lake monster escaped through a subterranean passage. These rumored passages play a prominent role in the lake monster phenomenon. If they exist, it could account for much of the difficulty in obtaining hard evidence for the existence of lake monsters.

I discuss these passageways, glacial lakes, and more in my book People are Seeing Something.