A lake monster or loch monster is a fresh-water-dwelling megafauna appearing in mythology, rumor, or local folklore, but whose existence currently lacks scientific support. A very well-known example is the Loch Ness Monster. Lake monsters' depictions are often similar to some sea monsters. They are principally the subject of investigations by followers of the study of cryptozoology and folklore.
Many skeptics consider lake monsters to be purely exaggerations or misinterpretations of known and natural phenomena, or else fabrications and hoaxes. Most lake monsters have no evidence besides alleged sightings and controversial photographs and a large portion are generally believed not to exist by conventional zoology and allied sciences. Misidentified sightings of seals, otters, deer, diving water birds, large fish such as giant sturgeons or wels catfish, logs, mirages, seiches, light distortion, crossing boat wakes, or unusual wave patterns have all been proposed to explain specific reports. Social scientists point out that descriptions of these creatures vary over time with the values and mood of the local cultures, following the pattern of folk beliefs and not what would be expected if the reports were of actual encounters with real animals.
"...a convincing argument based, again, on data mapping. He plotted the distribution of North American lake monster sightings. Then he overlaid the distribution of the common otter and found a near perfect match. It turns out that three or four otters swimming in a line look remarkably like a serpentine, humped creature undulating through the water. It is very easy to mistake for a single creature if you see them from a distance. "This isn't speculation. I'm not making this up," Nickell said. "I've spoken to people who saw what they thought was a lake monster, got closer and discovered it was actually a line of otters. That really happens." Clearly, not every lake monster sighting can be accounted for with otters, but it's an excellent example of how our perceptions can be fooled.
According to the Swedish naturalist and author Bengt Sjögren (1980), the present-day belief in lake monsters is associated with the legends of kelpies. Sjögren claims that the accounts of lake-monsters have changed during history. Older reports often talk about horse-like appearances, but more modern reports often have more reptile and dinosaur-like-appearances, and Sjögren concludes that the legends of kelpies evolved into the present day legends of lake-monsters where the monsters changed the appearance since the discovery of dinosaurs and giant aquatic reptiles from the horse-like water-kelpie to a dinosaur-like reptile, often a plesiosaur.
Other widely varied theories have been presented by believers, including unknown species of giant freshwater eels or surviving aquatic, prehistoric reptiles, such as plesiosaurs. One theory holds that the monsters that are sighted are the occasional full-grown form of an amphibian species that generally stays juvenile all its life like the axolotl. Cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans held throughout his life that plesiosaur-type sighting were actually an unknown species of long-necked seal.
Lake monster locations and names
- Grabianowski, Ed (August 12, 2011). "Paranormal Investigator Joe Nickell Reveals the Truth Behind Modern Cryptozoological Myths". io9.
- Coleman, Loren and Huyghe, Patrick, Illust. Harry Trumbore and Mark Lee Rollins, The Field Guide To Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and other mystery denizens of the deep, ISBN 1-58542-252-5
- The Global Lake Monster Database
- Lake Monsters
- Lake Monsters of North America
- The Loch Ness Monster versus the Lake Michigan Monster
- Wagner, Herbert (1993) Wisconsin Monsters of the Deep. Originally published in Wisconsin Outdoor Journal
- Famous lake and sea monsters from around the world with some videos