So it seems like I picked a good week to come back from my self-imposed hiatus from the site. Lots of good, juicy, and all around dumb paranormal stories to pick from. And so little time. So let’s start with the Lagarfljótsormurinn, a Loch Ness monster-type creature that is said to reside in Iceland. Apparently, a 13-member panel of “experts” (the story never fully states their credentials) have voted that some ambiguous footage of a mysterious something swimming in icy water is indeed the legendary Icelandic sea serpent. But like most videos of its ilk, this video doesn’t really show much. There’s no sense of scale, what is shown is very ambiguous and just below the surface, and in all likelihood, is an outright hoax. Not sure why this was deemed to be authentic. Oh yeah, tourism.
When strange footage emerged of a snakelike creature gliding beneath a frozen lake in Iceland experts suspected something fishy.
But now a panel convened to rule on the authenticity of the film has decided it is indeed a genuine film of Lagarfljótsormurinn – Iceland’s equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster.
The video, captured in early 2012 by Hjörtur Kjerúlf, shows a mysterious creature swimming through the cold water of the glacial river Jökulsá í Fljótsdal, in east Iceland.
Slate reports the decision the footage is authentic entitles Mr Kjerúlf to a small reward.
Lagarfljótsormurinn, a mysterious snake-like creature, is said to live in the Lagarfljót lake, which is 25 miles long and 367 feet deep. It has been supposedly sighted many times since reports of it first emerged in 1345.
The worm is believed to be at least 300ft (91m) long, with many humps. It has sometimes been reported outside the water, lying coiled up or slithering into the trees.
Sometimes it is said to be as long as the lake itself, 19 miles (30km).
The 13-member panel appointed to judge the footage ruled it was authentic by a majority of seven to six. Critics have branded the decision an obvious stunt to draw tourists. It came despite a couple of convincing alternative explanations.
One expert said it was probably just a fishing net. Investigator Miisa McKeown revealed: ‘Being at least passingly familiar with ice and how frozen objects behave in water (I live in Finland), I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this.’
Speaking to Discovery News around the time the footage was first published, she added: ‘The movement was the most fascinating aspect, but when I realised how quickly the water was flowing I figured that could very well cause that effect on a flexible object trapped there.’
She analysed the video and took several screen captures at different times and compared the location of the animal’s ‘head’ to static reference points to see if the swimming creature was actually moving, or the result of an optical illusion.
She found that the object is stationary in the water; it appears to be moving up the stream but is not.
Another expert has said he believes the footage is fake. Loren Coleman, director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine, has researched Lagarfljótsormurinn and wrote about it in his book Field Guide to Lake Monsters and Sea Serpents.
Mr Coleman said he was concerned about the ‘robotic’ look of the creature featured in the video and believes it is an elaborate hoax.
On his website Cryptomundo, he wrote: ‘Frankly, this video shows something that looks like a constructed snake-like object, with rigid sections, being propelled through the water.
From the movement on the water’s surface, it would have to be something other than a mammal, like a giant worm, a reptile or a fish.
‘The head appears to have been made to look like it belongs to a giant anaconda. The sections do not gracefully flow, but are sectionally moving from side-to-side. Mammals move up and down.
‘It seems someone attempting this fakery, perhaps by using a robot with tarps, fish nets, or trash bags – a favorite for watery hoaxers – has decided to take the phrase ‘sea serpent’ and/or ‘worm’ too literally.’
According to Coleman, the most recent sighting of a strange creature in Lake Lagarfljót was in 1998, when a teacher and their class of pupils said they saw something close to the shore.
However, they did not describe it as having a ‘worm-like’ appearance.
Another reason why Coleman believes the footage to be a hoax, is because of the creature’s appearance. He said the phrase ‘Icelandic Worm Monster’ was coined in the 21st Century and comes from a misunderstanding and mistranslation of Lagarfljótsormurinn simply as Lagarfljót worm.
This is instead of the more correct Lagarfljót Würm or Wurm – a phrase which harks back to dragon folklore.
He added: ‘The traditional sightings of this lake’s ‘monster’ – going back to 1345 – are not ‘snake-like’… Instead, they describe Lagarfljótsormurinn as having a hump, a long neck, and whiskers, more like a long-necked Waterhorse than a giant snake.’
He said because of the creature’s misinterpreted adopted name, hoaxers may mistakenly create it in the shape of a snake which contradicts all other eye witness accounts.
Legends say the monster began life as a tiny worm which a girl placed on a ring of gold to make the it grow. But when she returned she found that instead of making the gold grow, the worm had grown into a giant snake.
In her terror, she flung both into lake Lagarfljót, where the worm continued to grow and eventually became a fearsome dragon.
Lagarfljót, is a freshwater, below-sea-level, glacial-fed lake which has very poor visibility as a result of siltation.
Loren Coleman makes some very good points here, and this is often what happens with hoaxes: the hoaxer uses the popular or homogenized image, and not the details that actual eyewitnesses have reported. The whole thing looks fake, or even if it is real, it looks like a snake, and is far from being proof of anything. It should also be noted, as Mr. Coleman has explained many times on social media, that he no longer writes for the Cryptomundo blog. You can find his blog here.