01Apr97 NEW ZEALAND: DUCKS FALL FOR THE OLD LAKE MONSTER TRICK.
April 1 pranksters struck in Hamilton today,leaving a big grey monster in Hamilton Lake. People swarmed to the lake edge for a better view of the corrugated iron Loch Ness monster look-alike.
Alastair Carmichael, 3, of Hamilton, said "the big monster" had scared away the ducks - but the beast didn't frighten him or his twin brother, Robert. There were no clues as to who pulled the stunt.
Meanwhile, reports that Hamilton Mayor Margaret Evans is about to take up residence in a penthouse on the top floor of the city council's Anglesea St headquarters are just a tall tale spun by a radio reporter.
Radio Network News (RNN) Hamilton reporter Jayson Rhodes today said the report was an April fool's joke he dreamed up, with the blessing of Mayor Evans. It was broadcast during news reports on RNN stations NewsTalk ZB Waikato and ZHFM this morning. At 8.30 the stations admitted the story was a hoax and reminded listeners that today was April 1.
Mr Rhodes said: "It caused a number of phone calls ... I just couldn't resist it."
Mayor Evans said she went along with the prank because it was done in good fun. She is moving house today - but not to an inner-city penthouse. Mayor Evans has sold her River Rd home, where she has lived for 10 years, and is moving to a smaller house in Hamilton East.
Councillors voted narrowly last month to move offices for the mayor, chief executive and councillors to the top floor of the 10-storey Anglesea St building.
(c) The Waikato Times, INL 1997.
WAIKATO TIMES 1/4/97 P2
24Feb97 UK: NEW BID TO DISCOVER PROOF OF NESSIE.
THE scientists who produced the most sensational proof of the existence of the Loch Ness monster are to return to the hunt after a gap of more than 20 years. It could prove to be the most conclusive scientific expedition yet to prove the existence of the monster, and comes as £1m is on offer to whoever can prove that Nessie exists.
Bookmakers last week slashed the odds of finding Nessie this year to 100-1 after the discovery of a massive underwater cavern in the loch that may be the monster's home.
However, it was American scientists Dr Robert Rines, president of the Academy of Applied Sciences, and Mr Charles Wyckoff, who produced the most authenticated and compelling evidence of Nessie's existence. Dr Rines's sonar and photographic surveys of the loch in 1972 and 1975 tracked a large moving object around 600ft deep and then photographed a beast with rectangular or diamond-shaped fins. Wildlife expert Sir Peter Scott authenticated the incredible pictures. Now aged 73, the New Hampshire scientist and Mr Wyckoff, 80, from Massachusetts, will mount another search in spring.
British scientist Dr Karl Shuker, author of the best-seller The Unexplained, has been in contact with Dr Rines to join the hunt.
Dr Shuker believes Nessie exists and also favours an excavation of the 23-mile long muddy loch bed for bones or skeletons - like some prehistoric needle in a haystack.
Dr Shuker - who proved the existence of big cats in the wild in Britain - says if anybody can prove Nessie exists it is Dr Rines.
He believes the creature photographed by Dr Rines's expedition is probably a plesiosaur, a 30ft-long prehistoric reptile that was thought to have become extinct 65 million years ago.
The zoologist, who has written eight books on mysterious creatures, be-lieves the huge loch may contain between 15 and 30 plesiosaurs.
"It has to be that number to provide a viable breeding colony," said Dr Shuker.
"I believe that the only way to prove the existence of the Loch Ness phenomenon - I don't like the term monster - is by finding bones or skeletons. But photographic evidence is the next best thing and technology has moved on considerably since Dr Rines's fantastic pictures.
"They used to say that the coelacanth was extinct for 65 million years until one was caught by fishermen in South Africa in 1938."
Not Available for Re-dissemination.
THE HERALD 24/2/97 P26
23Feb97 UK: GEARING UP FOR NESSIE.
Special hi-tech equipment is being brought in for the latest hunt for Nessie. Offshore Survey and Engineering UK, of Aberdeen, have said they are ready to provide the gear after boatman George Edwards found a cave.
George, who used special scanning equipment, believes it could be Nessie's lair.
Polygram Video is offering £1 million if evidence of the Loch Ness monster is found by March 22.
(c) Scottish Daily Record & Sunday Mail Ltd, 1997.
SUNDAY MAIL 23/2/97 P17
23Feb97 UK: CAVE IN NESSIE!
A deep-sea survey firm plans to help hunt for the Loch Ness monster after a boatman found a cave that could be Nessie's lair.
The Scottish firm, which normally works in North Sea oil and gas fields, has offered its sonar gear to investigate the 800ft deep cave discovered last week.
A spokesman for the firm said: "We are keeping an open mind about Nessie."
(c) Mirror Group Ltd, 1997.
THE PEOPLE 23/2/97 P3
20Feb97 UK: I MAY HAVE FOUND NESSIE LAIR - LOCH'S AMATEUR MONSTER HUNTER.
By Chris Benfield.
Nessie or not? One of the most famous photographs of Loch Ness, taken in 1955, it apparently shows a serpent-like creature streaking through the water.
A fresh outbreak of Loch Ness Monster Fever appeared to be taking hold yesterday, following an auxiliary coastguard's claim to have discovered a large cavern at the bottom of the loch.
George Edwards, who is said by friends to be one of the most sober and reliable of the loch's amateur monster hunters, says he noted the existence of a huge hole in the bottom of the lake, near one of its edges, while operating a sonar depth-finder during a coastguard exercise five or six years ago.
He still has a print-out of readings running down to 826ft from the 750ft of most of the loch bottom.
Mr Edwards runs a tourist boat on Loch Ness and kept fairly quiet about his discovery, he says, because he did not have the money to organise a detailed survey himself and knew he would be accused of seeking publicity for commercial reasons if he went to the media.
But he believes in the monster, wants to see his finding investigated and confirmed rumours about the hole when approached by a reporter from the north-of-Scotland newspaper the Press and Journal.
Among the dozens of calls from all over the world which he took yesterday at his home in Drumnadrochit, on the lochside, was one from an oilfield survey company, offering to loan a remote-control submarine which could make a videotape or a detailed sonar map of the area concerned.
He told the Yorkshire Post last night: "I will consider it. At the moment, I am still reeling from the scale of the response I have had."
The legend of the monster has been around for at least 1,400 years and became world famous after a series of alleged sightings and a dubious photograph of the beast in the 1930s.
Interest was revived when submarines and automatic cameras were brought into the hunt in the 70s and yielded fuzzy underwater images which suggested that something dinosaur-shaped was swimming in the loch.
Loch Ness is 24 miles long, well over a mile wide in parts, and about 750 ft deep through most of its centre. Sceptics say that if marine dinosaurs had survived there, their remains would have been found. But Mr Edwards and other believers say the peaty acid water is a perfect preservative and bodies do not fill with the gases, from putrefaction, which normally make dead things float. Another theory is that the beasts have a hidden lair. And there is already excited speculation that the hole Mr Edwards has found might lead into a network of caves.
It has been claimed before that Loch Ness has extra-deep spots, but Mr Edwards says the claims have always been vague and there is nothing on existing charts to match what he has found.
A leading bookmaker yesterday cut its odds against the monster being found from 150-1 to 100-1.
Ladbrokes spokesman Simon Clare said: "Every year, thousands of bets are placed on Nessie being discovered. If George Edwards manages to solve this famous mystery, it will cost us a fortune."
YORKSHIRE POST 20/2/97 P6
02Feb97 SWEDEN: FEATURE - SWEDENS MYSTERY LAKE MONSTER SEEKS STAR STATUS.
By Belinda Goldsmith
OSTERSUND, Sweden, Feb 2 (Reuter) - Swedes are trying to drag their equivalent of the Loch Ness monster into the international limelight.
While the mystery creature in Scotland's Loch Ness has won Hollywood roles and lucrative merchandising deals, the other 250 plus lake monsters reported globally lurk in relative obscurity -- including Sweden's Great Lake Monster. The Storsjo monster is said to have lived in its central Swedish lake for at least 360 years and 150 sightings by 450 people have been recorded since 1635. Yet stories of the creature have remained largely confined to its home county of Jamtland, about 600 km (370 miles) northwest of Stockholm.
"If this had been America, I would be wearing a T-shirt saying "I have seen the monster'," said Bibbi Hogstrom, head of the tourist bureau at Ostersund on the banks of the Great Lake, who saw the monster when she was 13 years old.
"We have really not exploited the lake monster and that is typical of this area and of Sweden. We don't think it is something really special so we keep quiet about it."
POTENTIAL TOURIST VALUE
But as unemployment in Jamtland creeps up and tourists shun central Sweden for more exotic locations, local authorities are becoming more aware of the potential value of their own trump card -- the lake monster.
Sten Rentzhog, chairman of the Society for Investigating the Great Lake Monster that was set up in 1987, said a conference would be held later this year to design an action plan for promoting the creature.
"This conference will give the monster more publicity," said Rentzhog, who is also director of Jamtland County Museum.
Sightings of the lake monster date back to 1635, according to Ulla Oscarsson, who has written one of only three books available about the creature. The other two were published in 1899 and in the 1950s.
The first written mention of the monster was in a parish register kept by Parson Mogens Pedersen at nearby Herdal. He said a magic rune stone created a big serpent.
By the late 19th century the frequency of reported sightings of the monster in Sweden's fifth-largest lake rose.
In 1894 a group from Ostersund set up a company, called the Company to Capture the Great Lake Monster, to track down the animal, using traps baited with pigs and live calves.
Sweden's then king, Oscar II, known for his interest in science, became involved and contributed funds to the company.
There are no records of the company having any success.
REGULAR SIGHTINGS REPORTED
In recent years, sightings continue regularly.
Last July a group of pensioners on a pleasure cruise on the lake made a 30-second videotape of the monster as it appeared above the water in what was said to be a three-minute sighting.
"On the video you can see some strange waves moving in a strange way but it is not really very clear," Oscarsson said.
Oscarsson said witnesses' reports about the monster fall into two distinct categories: a large eel about three metres (10 feet) long and one metre (3.3 feet) wide that is grey-brown or a large serpent up to 14 metres (46 feet) long with humps and a small dog-like head.
"People report seeing some movement in waves on the lake and then other waves or humps appearing," Oscarsson said.
"Those who see it from a long distance tend to say it has humps that could overturn a board but those who see it close-up say the monster is short but thick."
Hogstrom, now aged in her late 30s, said she was with two other girls when they saw the monster about 200 metres (yards) out.
"We saw something come up to the surface of the lake and swim fast, like a thick eel, grey and slimy, definitely not a fish. It turned quickly and then disappeared," Hogstrom said.
"It was a very calm happening. But when we told people what we had seen they just laughed so we kept quiet about it."
SCEPTICS WARY OF PR HYPE
The rise in the number of sightings during the tourist season in Ostersund has caused some sceptics to mull over the power of public relations on people's eyesight.
Hogstrom, however, was adamant there was no connection to a PR push or to the fact the picturesque, lakeside town of 60,000 has one of the highest ratios of bars per capita in Sweden.
Local authorities have taken the monster seriously enough to declare him -- or her -- a protected species.
In 1986 the county administration of Jamtland declared anyone trying to capture, injure or kill the monster could be prosecuted under the Nature Conservancy Law. It was also made illegal to remove or damage the Great Lake Monster's eggs, spawn or nest, whichever is applicable.
Researcher Olle Nattsson, who is helping organise this year's conference, said there were numerous theories to explain why such lake monsters exist. Like Loch Ness, one theory is that during the Ice Age 15,000 years ago, the monster became trapped in the lake.
A common pattern true for most of the reported lake monsters around the world is that all the animals are found in lakes and river systems that are either connected or were once connected to the sea.
"But we really do not know much even about this lake or the monster," Nattsson told Reuters. "Unlike at Loch Ness we have not done any thorough searches and we need to investigate the lake then set down a definite search plan."
(c) Reuters Limited 1997
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
14Dec96 RUSSIA: RUSSIA'S "NESSIE" FRIGHTENS VILLAGERS.
By Nikolai Pavlov
BENYOK, Russia, Dec 14 (Reuter) - Near the bottom of Lake Brosno, or perhaps deep in the recesses of man's imagination, a monster of huge proportions lurks.
The evidence, much like that of Scotland's Loch Ness monster, is based on a single photograph and a few alleged sightings.
The picture shows a panoramic view of Lake Brosno with an object floating in the foreground. As with the Scottish "Nessie," it is not clear whether the object is a large log -- or something more ominous from the deep.
"I'm afraid," said one elderly woman, Varya, who lives in the small lakeside village of Benyok about 400 km (250 miles) northwest of Moscow.
"I do not feel comfortable staying in this place. The monster could crawl into my house any day."
"It was big like this," said Tanya, another grandmotherly type who believes the creature hides from humans near the lake bottom. "I saw a head, like a fish -- and big."
She sketched a snake-like head rising from the water with a large eye on the side.
Tourists from Moscow camping near the lake added to the legend by taking a photograph after their seven-year-old son shouted out that he had seen a dragon monster.
A newspaper in Tver, the nearest major town, recently published the photo, and the story was picked up in the local media.
"It is completely possible that the creature which you see in this photo is a relative of the famous Loch Ness monster," wrote the newspaper, Caravan-1. Locals who believe in the monster -- and there are certainly a fair number of sceptics -- say it is much like a serpent, and one report estimated its length at five metres (16 feet).
The alleged sightings are not prompting scientists to rush to the attractive lake surrounded by trees to conduct tests however.
"It sounds like a country fairy tale, the kind of story told over the years in the countryside," said Lyudmila Bolshakova, an expert at Moscow's Institute of Paleontology.
Regional media said there are written reports of sightings of the monster dating back to the 19th century, and the legend is even older.
But a group of journalists visiting the lake this week saw no sign of the monster.
(c) Reuters Limited 1996
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
10Dec96 RUSSIA: LOCH NESS MONSTER MAY HAVE COUSIN IN RUSSIAN LAKE.
MOSCOW, Dec 10 (Reuter) - Residents of the Tver region northwest of Moscow say they have seen a creature "similar to Scotland's Loch Ness monster" in a nearby lake, Itar-Tass news agency reported on Tuesday.
Local press reports describe a creature about five metres (16 feet) long living in Lake Brosno, 80 km (50 miles) northwest of the Russian capital, and have published photographs, though they are too indistinct to be convincing, Tass said.
It quoted a local paeleontologist, Nikolai Dikov, as saying the creature's alleged shape suggested an extinct order of reptiles with teeth like mammals. According to local newspapers, sightings of a strange beast in the lake were reported as long ago as the 1850s. Lake Brosno is about 10 km long (six miles) and 40 metres (130 feet) deep, Tass said.
(c) Reuters Limited 1996
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
13Oct96 SWEDEN: STRANGE BUT TRUE - KILLING MONSTERS IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED - LAKE LEGENDS.
By Paul Sieveking.
SWEDEN'S most famous lake monster, the Storsjoodjuret (the monster of Lake Storsjon) had a lot of coverage in the Swedish newspapers last summer following a video recording of the creature in July by Gun-Britt Widmark, 67, while boating on the lake off Ostersund with a party of pensioners. Whatever it was had humps and was 33 to 39 feet long.
Four people made a further sighting on July 22 from their verandah overlooking the lake. They watched a long, wave-like movement in the water, like the wash of a boat, though there was no boat in sight. Through binoculars they saw something rolling up and down in the water, breaking the surface every three seconds. It moved parallel with the Rodo bridge for a couple of minutes, then changed direction by 90 degrees, finally diving and disappearing under the bridge. One of them tried to capture the phenomenon on video, but it was too far away. Sten Rentzhog, director of the local Ostersund museum, has collected nearly 500 accounts of Storsjoodjuret sightings dating back to 1635. In recent years, most of these have coincided with the summer tourist season, leading sceptics to suspect a degree of public relations hype; but last July the paper Ostersunds Posten complained that the monster was poorly marketed compared with Nessie or some of the American lake monsters. There was no merchandise on sale apart from two postcards. Furthermore, the monster was seasonal long before there were any tourists, as can be seen from Dr Peter Olsson's study of 1899.
The folkloric explanation is that the lake monsters of this part of Sweden are seasonal because they migrate from the Gulf of Bothnia, where they spend the winter months, and it was said that sometimes in summer they were observed on land moving between the various lakes. Incidentally, Dr Olsson wondered if the monster might be an unknown species of giant seal, but readily admitted that seals should have been more noticeable in the winter, and noted the lack of breathing holes in the lake's ice.
In 1986, after 22 years of sporadic debate, the county administration of Jamtland (the district which encompasses the lake) declared that anyone trying to capture or kill the Storsjon monster could be prosecuted. The ruling had taken such a long time because lawyers required an "official" Linnaean name for the animal and naturally the zoological establishment would not acknowledge that the creature existed.
No one could decide if the matter should be dealt with under the Game Act or the Fishery Regulation Act. Scandinavian sophistry overcame the conundrum by invoking the Nature Conservation Act, prohibiting any threat to the unknown creature "while awaiting a determination of its species". This was prudent, as descriptions of the monster have changed over the years.
In the 19th century, nearly all the witnesses described a "waterhorse", its head surrounded by a long white mane floating in the water. Contemporary witnesses don't seem to notice its horse-like head and mane. My Swedish correspondent dryly describes the beast as a "camouflageon" - a hitherto unknown species of highly developed amphibian chameleon.
Olle Mattsson, an antiquarian at the Ostersund museum, has spent the last two years examining the museum's archives for historical observations of the monster, to which he has added many interviews with modern witnesses. His version of the "typical" monster is 10 to 16 feet long, 12 to 16 inches wide, dark grey or black with a small head. "All evidence indicates that there is a population [of the monsters]," he said. "They probably move together in a pack."
Although the local papers report two or three sightings every summer, Mr Mattsson believes that most witnesses keep quiet out of fear of ridicule - which seems rather odd, considering the large number of witnesses who have come forward. This is probably a modern gloss on the old taboo against mentioning encounters with the dangerous or unknown, especially to strangers.
Paul Sieveking is editor of Fortean Times.
(c) Telegraph Group Limited, London, 1996.
SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 13/10/96 P22
15Sep96 UK: LIZZIE'S A SIGHT.
Lizzie the Loch Ness Monster's cousin is back.
The beastie surfaced briefly, 36 years after she was last spotted in Loch Lochy.
Eye-witnesses were stunned to see the 12ft-long, three-humped creature rearing out of the water.
And guests at the nearby Corriegour Lodge Hotel rushed to get a better view. Hotel boss Lorna Bunney said: "I've never seen anything like this creature before."
(c) Scottish Daily Record & Sunday Mail Ltd, 1996.
SUNDAY MAIL 15/9/96 P14
14Jun96 UK: MYSTERIOUS OBJECT PLOUGHS ACROSS LOCH NESS.
LONDON, June 14 (Reuter) - Sixteen people watched in amazement as a mysterious object ploughed swiftly across Loch Ness, leaving a whitewater wake before disappearing after five minutes into the depths of the Scottish lake.
"I cannot find a rational explanation for what I saw," said English tourist David Neeld, the morning after Thursday evening's sighting. "I do not think there is any other explanation than it was the Loch Ness monster."
Sightings of the monster, nicknamed Nessie and often described as having a long neck and large body like a brontosaurus, have been reported since the 15th century. Several expeditions have been undertaken in the loch but they have found nothing.
The strange object was first spotted at 10 p.m. by Kate Munro, joint owner of the Craigdarroch House, a hotel on the edge of the Highland lake.
She alerted her husband Dave and 14 guests who watched the object for five minutes.
They told reporters that it appeared to be something large just under the loch's surface, moving at high speed.
"There was no traffic on the loch at all, yet here was a wake as big as comes from a cruiser," said Neeld.
"There were a few locals in the hotel's bar and they said it was Nessie, so I will go along with that," he said. "I must say that I was very impressed." Another tourist, Karen Hemingway, said: "Whatever we saw was certainly quite strange. There were no boats around at all. I think I could well have seen the monster."
Around two million tourists are attracted to 40-km (25-mile) long Loch Ness each year because of the monster legend.
(c) Reuters Limited 1996
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
13Jun96 SOUTH AFRICA: NEWSBITES - NESSIE'S RIVAL.
By Celia Locks and Kevin Rafferty.
South Africa has one more attraction for ever-eager tourists: its very own monster. Zulu legend has it lurking at the bottom of the 300-foot Howick Falls, exerting a magical force as it sucks victims into its underwater lair. The beast, said to look just like the one in Loch Ness, is drawing sightseers to the town of Howick in KwaZulu-Natal. They can see fuzzy photographs of a skinny long neck rising out of a swollen body, with three smaller `monsters' (looking suspiciously like ducks) swimming beside it. CL.
GUARDIAN 13/6/96 P5
09Sep94 CHINA: MONSTER OR MERMAID IN CHINA'S HEAVENLY LAKE?.
BEIJING, Sept 9 (Reuter) - Will China's Heavenly Lake become as famous as Scotland's Loch Ness?
With sightings of a blond-headed creature -- or perhaps a "black thing as big as a bull head" -- to go on, officials at Lake Tianchi (Heavenly lake) in northeast China's Jilin province have started establishing study societies and collecting videotapes and photographs of a strange swimming object, Xinhua news agency said on Friday.
The official news agency said eyewitnesses had seen a creature moving as fast as a walking man twice in the past two weeks.
"At 3:25 p.m., September 2, it was clear and the swimming creature surfaced its blond head and swam from north to southwest in the lake for ten minutes before it submerged, according to Kim Taik, deputy secretary-general of the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefectural People's Political Consultative Conference," the news agency said.
Kim said the creature stirred up waves two metres (six feet) high. Xinhua quoted a travel guide who was taking a group of Korean tourists to the lake as saying she saw a large black "thing" swimming in the lake.
It said local people have given accounts of sightings and taken pictures of a mysterious lake-dwelling creature since the beginning of the century.
The creature is not China's only mystery -- reports of a man-beast "Wild Man" periodically spring up from around the country.
(c) Reuters Limited 1994
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
Credit: Paul Cropper
Comments: In my books, the Russian Lake Bronso monster is probably a sturgeon; the Loch Ness monster is defintely not a plesiosaur; the Howick Falls monster is a hoax playing on native myths and sightings of known animals.