Selma

Freshwater Monster of Norway.

Etymology: Coined by Jan-Ove Sundberg.

Variant name: Seljora.

Physical description: Length, 13-160 feet. Black. Head like a horse's or crocodile's. Long, thin neck. Mane sometimes reported. A pair of front flippers. One to five humps.

Behavior: Turns its head from side to side. Swims swiftly. Makes a snorting or growling sound under water.

Tracks: Leaves a furrow in the snow 15 inches wide and 12 inches deep when it ventures on land.

Distribution: Seljordsvatnet, Telemark County, Norway.

Significant sightings: Gunleik Andersson-Verpe's rowboat was overturned in 1750 by a "sea horse."

About 1880, Bjorn Bjorge and his mother, Gunhild, encountered a 3-foot lizard that they believed was a juvenile lake monster. It swam toward them as they were washing clothes, and Gunhild swatted it with a stick, killing it. Part of it stayed on the beach for months because no one dared come near it.

Around 1920, Eivind Fjodstuft was fishing at Sinnesodden Point when he saw a crocodile-like animal emerge from the lake and climb a cliff face. It jumped back in when he approached.

On the west side of the lake at Svarvaren in May 1963, Torje Lindstol watched an animal with a deerlike head and long neck about 150 feet off the shore. After about ten seconds, it sank into the water, showing a portion of its back.

In August 1963, Walther Berg saw a 30-foot animal resting on the surface of the lake.

In September 1969, divers Arne and Alf Thomassen conducted a search for Selma and found some odd grooves on the lake bottom, as if something heavy had been moving there.

On July 5, 1977, Jan-Ove Sundberg obtained a strong underwater signal with a Simrad EL-38 echo sounder. Twice, the sonar indicated a large target that approached his boat swiftly at a depth of 60 feet and halted only 30 feet away. Two days later, the sonar picked up three huge objects moving underwater on parallel courses.

On July 6, 1978, Sundberg took some dim Super 8-millimeter footage of an animal that was swimming toward the shore at Sinnesodden in the twilight.

Kari Aakre and her family were driving west along the lake to Seljord in July 1995 when they saw three animals churning up the water in the lake. One was only 150 feet from shore, while the two others were about 600 feet away. Other drivers stopped along the road to watch as well. All three animals submerged instantly when the tourboat Fjoellguten II came into view and blew its whistle.

In 1998 and 2000, Sundberg recorded peculiar sounds in the lake using sophisticated, underwater hydrophones. He described the noise as "a cross between a snorting horse and an eating pig." His GUST 2000 expedition also obtained an echo sounder sonar recording that indicated two 60-foot animals were swimming a few yards above the lake bottom.

On August 8, 2000, Erik Knatterud glimpsed what seemed to be a reddish-brown head in the middle of the lake. It submerged before he could photograph it.

Sources: Halvor J. Sandsdalen, Ormen i Seljordsvatnet (Oslo: Noregs Boklag, 1976); Jan-Ove Sundberg, Storsjo Odjuret, Seljordsormen, Nessie och andra sjomonster (Taby, Sweden: Larsons Forlag, 1995), pp. 94-115; John Kirk, In the Domain ofLake

Monsters (Toronto, Canada: Key Porter Books, 1998), pp. 222-233; Dave Walsh, "A Monstrous Farce," Fortean Times, no. 117 (December 1998): 48; Jan-Ove Sundberg, The Search for Selma (CD-ROM) (London: Redport Publishing, 1999); Eric Knatterud, Norwegian Sea Serpents, http://www. mjoesormen.no/norwegianseaserpents.htm; Global Underwater Search Team (GUST), Cryptozoology, http://www.cryptozoology.st.

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