Storsjoodjuret

Freshwater Monster of Sweden.

Etymology: Swedish, "Storsjo monster."

Variant names: Storsie, Thelma.

Physical description: Serpentine. Length, 10-45 feet. Width, 3-4 feet. Shiny skin, greenish to grayish. Round head like a cat's or a dog's, 3 feet wide. Reports from the nineteenth century describe a horselike head with a long, white mane. Large, dark eyes. Long, sail-like ears (or dorsal crest) that it presses back against its neck. Long, flickering tongue. Neck, 8-10 feet long. Multiple humps. Two pairs of stumpy legs or fins. Powerful tail.

Behavior: Most active in the summer. Swims swiftly, perhaps as fast as 45 miles per hour. Said to make a wailing or a rattling noise.

Distribution: Storsjon Lake, Jamtland County, Sweden. Sightings have primarily been in the narrow arms of the lake south of Froson Island.

Significant sightings: Around 1839, Aron An-dersson and others at Hackas watched a red-gray animal with a head like a horse's and a white mane swimming away from the shore.

Marta and Karin Olsson were washing clothes on the beach near Sorbyn on October 13, 1893, when they saw an animal's head rising and falling in the water. After Karin threw some stones at it, it swam swiftly toward the shore. The women ran but saw the animal submerge eventually.

In 1894, amusement-park owner Maria Helin and other citizens of Ostersund formed a company to try to capture the animal. Even King Oscar II made a financial contribution. They constructed a jetty into the lake and hired a Norwegian whaler, harpoons at the ready, to watch for any activity. A huge trap was set under the jetty, and large hooks were baited and placed at various points around the lake, but the company met with no success. The trap and other equipment are in the Jamtland Museum.

On July 14, 1931, Anders Bergqvist and Jonas Hansson saw two humps in the water at Myrviken.

Anna Rahm observed a gray animal, 9 feet long and with a powerful tail and large ears, at Assjon on August 12, 1947. Its tongue moved up and down threateningly, and its eyes rolled.

On August 10, 1983, Carina Johnsson took photographs of a large, swiftly moving animal in the bay of Brunfloviken.

An alleged embryo of Storsjoodjuret was found on the shore on June 18, 1984. It has been at the Jamtland Museum since 1985.

Gun-Britt Widmark took a video of a 33-39-foot animal in July 1996 while he was boating off Ostersund.

On August 8, 1997, Elin and Cecilia Hem-reus saw the animal's head and one arched loop of its body from only 30 feet away while they were swimming near Tippskar Island. The head was horselike, with two black eyes on the sides; the neck was about 6 feet long. The body had large, round scales like armored plates.

A woman in Brunflo saw a serpentine monster swimming 90 feet offshore in July 2000. It was 20-25 feet long and golden with a blackish back.

Possible explanations:

(2) Ducks or other waterfowl swimming in a row.

(3) A large fish, possibly a Wels catfish (Silurus glanis), which grows up to 16 feet and is found in Scandinavia, Russia, and Eastern Europe. The largest wels in Sweden weighed 132.5 pounds and was caught in 1981.

(4) A misidentified boat wake.

Various views of STORSJOODJURET, the monster of Storson lake, Sweden. Top left, the animal seen by Marta and Karin Olsson in October 1893; a maned, horse-headed serpent seen in the first half of the twentieth century; a fish-tailed creature observed in the 1960s and 1970s; bottom right, a newt-headed animal spotted in 1992 and seen by others since. (Richard Svensson/Fortean Picture Library)

Various views of STORSJOODJURET, the monster of Storson lake, Sweden. Top left, the animal seen by Marta and Karin Olsson in October 1893; a maned, horse-headed serpent seen in the first half of the twentieth century; a fish-tailed creature observed in the 1960s and 1970s; bottom right, a newt-headed animal spotted in 1992 and seen by others since. (Richard Svensson/Fortean Picture Library)

(5) An unidentified species of seal is unlikely, since the lake freezes over in the winter. Sources: Peter Olsson, Storsjöodjuret: Framställning af fakta och utredning (Östersund, Sweden: Jämtlandspostens Boktryckeri, 1899); Arvid Enqvist, "Runstenen pä Frösön och den bundna sjöormen," Rig: Tidskrift Utgiven av Föreningen for Svensk Kulturhistoria 21 (1938): 157-168; Knut Svedjeland, Storsjöodjuret (Östersund, Sweden: S-förlaget, 1959); Tim Dinsdale, The Leviathans (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966), pp. 40-43; Peter Costello, In Search of Lake Monsters (New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, 1974), pp. 197-207; Jan-Ove Sundberg, Storsjö Odjuret, Seljordsormen, Nessie och andra sjömonster (Täby, Sweden: Larsons Förlag, 1995), pp. 11-93; "Monster Machinations," Fortean

Times, no. 92 (November 1996): 18; John Kirk, In the Domain of Lake Monsters (Toronto, Canada: Key Porter Books, 1998), pp. 233-234; Ulla Oscarsson, Storsjoodjuret: The Great Lake Monster (Ostersund, Sweden: Jamtland County Museum, 2000); Global Underwater Search Team (GUST), Our Search for Unknown Animals, http://www.bahnhof. se/~wizard/cryptoworld/index3a.html; Storsjoodjurets Officiella Hemsida, http:// www.storsjoodjuret.jamtland.se.

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