by Nick Redfern
Although certainly not as famous (or as infamous) as their cousins in Loch Ness, Scotland, the strange creatures of Lake Storsjön, Sweden have been encountered far more than a few times. They go by the name of Storsjöodjuret. As for the lake, it is approximately 250 feet deep and has a long tradition of monsters lurking in its depths. Some of the encounters are somewhat friend-of-a-friend in style. Others, however, are arguably not.
From 1635, there is this story, told by a priest, Morgens Pedersen: “A long, long time ago two trolls, Jata and Kata, stood on the shores of the Great-Lake brewing a concoction in their cauldrons. They brewed and mixed and added to the liquid for days and weeks and years. They knew not what would result from their brew but they wondered about it a great deal. One evening there was heard a strange sound from one of their cauldrons. There was a wailing, a groaning and a crying, then suddenly came a loud bang. A strange animal with a black serpentine body and a cat-like head jumped out of the cauldron and disappeared into the lake. The monster enjoyed living in the lake, grew unbelievably larger and awakened terror among the people whenever it appeared. Finally, it extended all the way round the island of Frösön, and could even bite its own tail. Ketil Runske bound the mighty monster with a strong spell which was carved on a stone and raised on the island of Frösön. The serpent was pictured on the stone. Thus was the spell to be tied till the day someone came who could read and understand the inscription on the stone.”
The late cryptozoologist Mark Chorvinsky described one such encounter: “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.’”
And, there is a certain story from the latter part of the 19th century. The witness, Martin Olsson: “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 greyish 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.”
Olsson continued: “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.”