In 2007, cryptozoologist Richard Freeman traveled with a team of monster-hunters to the country of Guyana, in South America, specifically on the northern mainland. Freeman and his crew were there to investigate reports of a Bigfoot-type creature known by the local tribe-people as the Didi: a tall, hair-covered hominid that is much feared by those that live in those parts of Guyana where the animal-man lives. After the expedition was completed, I interviewed Freeman about his trek to South America. It turns out that Freeman uncovered accounts of not just the Didi, but of several unknown water-based animals, too: in other words, lake monsters. Freeman says: “We also heard tales of dragons living up in the mountains; and although we didn’t find the dragons, we did find a cave in the mountains where a burial had taken place and where there were a number of human skulls in an old pot. There was also a story from the 1950s we investigated of a group of cowboys who had tethered their horses near a lake one night and woke up to hear this loud breathing and the sounds of something big moving from the water – rivers and lagoons – towards the horses. Of course, they shot in the direction of whatever it was, and quickly untied the horses and left. But this area had dragon legends attached to it, too.”
As an aside, at the end of the interview, in which he shared with me his lake monster-based research in Russia, Freeman said: “One of Russia’s largest lakes seems to be the home of a large, powerful and dangerous creature that locals say has killed 19 fishermen. Lake Chany is virtually unknown in the west but it is a vast expanse of water covering 770 square miles. Its is 57 miles long by 55 miles wide but is fairly shallow at only 23 feet deep with an average depth of only 6 feet. Lake Chany is in the southern part of the province of Novosibirsk Oblast close to the borders of Kazakhstan. The creature involved in the attacks is described as serpentine and huge. The beast claimed its latest victim, a 59 year old fisherman last week. 60 year old Vladimir Golishev was in the boat then the creature overturned it and dragged his friend away.”
The Daily Mail newspaper stated: “Russian fishermen are demanding a probe into a creature resembling the Loch Ness monster in a remote Siberian lake. Locals say that ‘Nesski’ has devoured anglers who have been pulled into the murky waters of Lake Chany from their boats. Those claiming to have glimpsed the creature say it resembles the classic long-necked image of Scotland’s fabled monster. It has also been called ‘snake-like’, while other accounts suggest a large fin and huge tail. The latest mysterious death of a 59-year-old man last week has fueled demands for a proper probe into what lurks beneath the surface of Chany, one of Russia’s largest freshwater lakes. ‘I was with my friend… some 300 yards from the shore,’ said 60-year-old Vladimir Golishev. He hooked something huge on his bait, and he stood up in the boat to reel it in.’But it pulled with such force that he overturned the boat. I was in shock – I had never seen anything like it in my life. I pulled off my clothes and swam for the shore, not daring hope I would make it.'”
Without doubt, lake monsters are a worldwide phenomenon. The big question, of course, is: what are they? Surviving plesiosaurs? Huge eels? Supernatural creatures? Well, in my book, Nessie, I explained why I believe the Nessies are entities of a paranormal kind. I still believe that to be the case. However, I don’t think we can explain away every lake monster encounter as having a supernatural aspect attached to it. For those cases that undeniably involve flesh-and-blood animals, I go with the excellent research of Steve Plambeck, who has extensively addressed the matter of giant salamanders.