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Iceland River Monster? Or Robotic Hoax?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 7th, 2012

A video of a “lake monster” has appeared on Icelandic media.

The object in the water is shown swimming against the prevailing current in the river.

The footage was captured by Hjörtur Kjerúlf on February 2, 2012, of this unknown found swimming in the glacial river Jökulsá í Fljótsdal, east Iceland. Speculation has centered on whether this may be the “notorious snake-like monster Lagarfljótsormurinn, which is said to reside in the lake Lagarfljót,” according to the Iceland Review.

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.

The traditional sightings of this lake’s “monster” (going back to 1345) are not “snake-like” as the media is noting. Instead, they describe Lagarfljótsormurinn as having a hump, a long neck, and whiskers, more like a long-necked Waterhorse than a giant snake.

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. The 21st Century-employed phrase “Iceland Worm Monster” comes from a misunderstanding and mistranslation of Lagarfljótsormurinn simply as Lagarfljót worm, instead of the more correct Lagarfljót Würm or Wurm, harking back to an overlapping folklore for and with Dragons, definitely cryptids with much more bulk than wispy earthbound “worms.”

I’ve been out of it, due to some medical difficulties, so I may have missed others coming up with similar theories, as apparently Dale Drinnon did. Also, over at Boing Boing, David Perscovitz posted about this here.

Lee Speigel wrote about this video on Huffington Post, and included highlights of his extended interview with me about the tape.

“What concerns me the most is the robotic look of this creature,” said Loren Coleman, director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

Coleman has researched and written about the Icelandic creature in his book “Field Guide to Lake Monsters and Sea Serpents,” co-authored with Patrick Huyghe.

The most recent sighting of an unusual creature in Iceland, according to Coleman, took place in 1998, when a classroom of students and their teacher claimed to see one close to shore. But it wasn’t a snake or worm.

Read more here.

Thanks to many folks who have alerted us to this story, in the following order, Scott Cline, John Oathout, Matthew L. Hilt, and Hendrik Frerichs.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


15 Responses to “Iceland River Monster? Or Robotic Hoax?”

  1. Hapa responds:

    Excellent commentary by Mr Coleman. This also once again highlights the fact that videos, no matter how compelling, are not enough. They are NEVER enough. Only a body, parts of a body, or a living specimen will ever prove the existence of a Cryptid.

    Only with such physical evidence will the laughing skeptics be silenced.

  2. MattBille responds:

    Yes, it moves kind of like a kid’s snake toy. I don’t know much about this lake story, but Jeremy Wade’s written account of his encounter with something big here at night is a bit hair-raising and leaves the mystery open.

  3. flame821 responds:

    Or it could be someone trying out their latest toy or maker submission as opposed to an outright hoax. I know a lot of kids (particularly young teenage boys, if my son’s friends are any indication) are really into designing and building robots and it goes far beyond battle bots. One of his friends is trying to do something similar to this and tests it in the shallow end of a local lake as he has been forbidden by the authorities to test it in the dam, particularly for fear it will either malfunction and require fishing out (apparently a liability risk) or that some out-of-towner will see it and freak, causing a panic amongst the tourists. I also know he has build it with foam ‘horns’ on it just because he’s 14 and thinks it makes it look ‘bad@$$’ I think he should focus on function before form. ;p

  4. PoeticsOfBigfoot responds:

    It looks Photoshopped to me, or whatever the video equivalent is, I’m not too tech savvy.

  5. Richard888 responds:

    I don’t see a living creature but debris caught in the boundary between two masses of water of different temperature. As these masses interact the illusion of undulating motion is created. Another reason I think it’s debris is that it has many asymmetries.

  6. Richard888 responds:

    Yeah, I looked at the video one more time. The thing’s movement seems to originate from the surrounding current and not from the creature itself. I think we are looking at something inanimate.

  7. Sasquatch Up Close responds:

    Just about nothing could look less like an organic creature than this. I might even believe it’s a bunch of small ice floes linked together. It doesn’t appear to be “swimming upstream” at all…

  8. terry the censor responds:

    It’s small chunks of ice built up on the edge of a large sheet of ice, which itself is floating on water and so moving about with the current. This is apparent in the second-half of the video.

  9. paul_r responds:

    I see a beaver that is helping to form a channel between the two masses. The “snakeiness” is as others above say and is ice/debris filling the path as it travels.

  10. DWA responds:

    I’m a believer in Icelandic snake robots.

  11. Cryptidcrazy responds:

    It looks like a natural phenomena. I don’t see a living creature in that video. Just a bunch of debris/ice, caught in the currents and giving the illusion that it’s travelling in a snakelike motion.

  12. fooks responds:

    any idea of size for this robot?

    it certainly worked and whoever built it to swim in that icy stuff should get a medal!

    tell me how it would work.

    i’ve heard of it being a rogue net, so it must be big and it would be dereliction of duty to let it swim around like that.

    looks big.

    big net sized robot?

    maybe the hoaxers will come out and tell us how they did it.

  13. ModernShanahan responds:

    Well, it looks like wherever the thing is going, it’s shooting out bubbles in the water. Don’t know if it’s inanimate after all, but I can see why you would say that. >.<

  14. midwest mimi responds:

    Syfy’s next original made for tv movie: Icelandic Robot Snake vs. Crocosaurus. Que up the Tivo for this one!

  15. thesasquatchbeliever0302 responds:

    That looks like a python or an anaconda. I can clearly see its head it’s in the shape of a snake. I can clearly tell this Is a snake. I can see its patterns and I think I might be seeing its tongue flicking causing the water to move. Plus pythons and anacondas can grow to be about 20 feet or longer. Or it may be an alligator or a crocodile. But my best guess is a snake.



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