When it comes to the matter of lake monsters, there’s little doubt that the most famous (or infamous) of all are Nessie of Scotland; Ogopogo of Okanagan Lake, British Columbia, Canada; and Champ, of Lake Champlain. Less well known, but still notable, is Sweden’s very own resident monster: Storsjöodjuret. Of the creature in question, the late Mark Chorvinksy said the following: “Fisheries officer Ragnar Björks, 73, was out checking fishing permits on Sweden’s Lake Storsjön when he had the fright of his life. From the placid waters a huge tail suddenly broke the surface near Björk’s 12 foot row boat. The colossal creature attached to the tail appeared to be 18 feet long, grey-brown on top with a yellow underbelly. When Björks was alongside the monster, he struck at it with his oar, hitting it on the back. Angered, the creature slapped the water with its tail and the rowboat was thrown nine to twelve feet into the air. ‘At first I didn’t believe that there was any monster in the Storsjön…but now I am convinced.'”
Chorvinsky added: “There is no clear picture of the beastie. Some witnesses describe a large neck undulating back and forth that looks like a horse’s mane; others observed a large worm-like creature with recognizable ears. Reports of the creature’s size range from 10 to 42 feet in length. Like the Loch Ness Monster, one of the numerous theories is that during the Ice Age 15,000 years ago, the monster may have become trapped in the Swedish Lake.”
Skeptics might say that Storsjöodjuret is nothing but a modern day piece of folklore, designed to capitalize on the monster legend, as VisitScotland has with Nessie. That’s not the case, though. Indeed, reports of the monster (or monsters) date back centuries, as Chorvinsky noted. As one example of many, there is the case of one Martin Olsson, who encountered just such a creature on a fateful day in 1878. A mechanic who worked in the area, Olsson told his story as follows:
“I was fishing near Forson Island when I got a strange feeling someone was watching me. I looked behind me and the lake creature was not more than forty meters behind my boat. I dropped my pole and line in the lake when I saw it. The weather was bright and sunny and I got a good view of the animal. The neck was long, about as round as a man’s body at the base where it came up out of the water. It tapered up about six feet to a snake-like head that was larger than what I figured the neck could support.
“There was a hairy fringe just back of the neck. Hanging down the back. This ‘ribbon’ was stuck close to the neck, possibly because of the wetness. The color was grayish brown. The thing had two distinct eyes that were reddish in appearance. There were a couple of dark humps visible beyond the neck. Both of these humps, and the part that was out of the water, glistened in the sunlight. I did not see scales. There was a skin on the animal that resembled the skin of a fish.
“I didn’t want to alarm the animal, but I did want to get away as quickly as possible. Moving very cautiously, I took my oars and pulled slowly away from the spot. I became even more frightened when I had rowed about ten meters distance and the animal began to swim towards me. I stopped rowing, and the thing just lay there in the water staring at me. This much have gone on for about five minutes. I’m uncertain because my mind was on anything but the passage of time. There was no doubt in my mind that this thing could have overturned my little boat. I thanked god when he dropped beneath the water and I saw a blackish hump move out in the opposite direction.”
Whatever Storsjöodjuret is (or they are), the mystery remains.