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Reservoir Monster Dogs Swimmers in Chinese Reservoir

Is it safe to take a dip in the Zhelin Reservoir near Jiujiang? A recent video taken by swimmers may cause others to think twice as what looks like a giant sea creature or reservoir dragon is spotted partially emerging from the waters. Have the earthquakes caused by the building of the reservoir unleashed an ancient monster seeking revenge?

The video was uploaded on May 25 and the identity of the witnesses and actual date of the sighting are not given. According to one media report, the location appears to be the shore of the Mount Lu Xihai Resort in Jiujiang City in East China’s Jiangxi Province. The video is blurry (of course) but the audio clearly provides the sounds (in Chinese) of excited serpent spotters. The report implies that they’re saying the creature is 16 to 19 feet long. No other sightings of this Zhelin Reservoir monster seem to have appeared in the media, so there’s not much to go one in determining what exactly the video is showing.

However, this is China, the home of many tales of dragons – both fliers and swimmers – and the location is the Zhelin Reservoir, a controversial man-made body. While the area was historically low in earthquake activity, since the construction of Asia’s largest earth-filled embankment dam in 1972 the seismic activity around the 202-sq-km (78-sq-mile) reservoir has increased dramatically. Is that responsible for this monster?

One mythical Chinese creature this sounds like is the shen or clam monster, which is believed to be a shape-shifting dragon that creates mirages. It’s a strange creature that starts out as a sparrow or person before entering the water to shift into a monster that eats sparrows, people and especially people who eat sparrows. Its connection to mirages has it being blamed for the ghost or floating cities seen recently in China – including one in the Jiangxi province two years ago — that are more likely caused by the atmospheric phenomena known as Fata Morgana.

An illustration of a shen creating a mirage

Does the Zhelin Reservoir sea monster have a non-mythological explanation? One suggestion is that the creature may be a critically-endangers Chinese sturgeon (Acipenser sinensis) that escaped from the nearby Luoping Sturgeon Farm. Chinese sturgeons can reach 5 meters (16.4 ft) so the size of the alleged reservoir dragon is close. If it’s a Chinese sturgeon, it’s in greater danger than the swimmers since one reason why there aren’t many left is because they’re Chinese delicacy.

Let’s see … this sea creature story has a man-made reservoir causing earthquakes and a real sea creature eaten to near extinction. If these people wanted to see the real monster, perhaps they should take a selfie.


Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.
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