Lake Van Monster Resurfaces

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on August 29th, 2006

The case of the Lake Van Monster is an interesting one indeed.

The first reported sightings of a monster in Lake Van in Easter Turkey did not occur until 1995.

In 1997, a university teaching assistant shot video of what has become known as the Lake Van Monster.

Lake Van Monster

Above is a still from the video shot by 26 year old Unal Kozak.

CNN covered the story back in 1997. The CNN website has links to the video of the "creature" in the water.

Word today from Zaman Online out of Istanbul is that a crew from Japanese magazine Shosetsu Tendai by Kodansha is at Lake Van documenting the legend of the Lake Van Monster, talking to eyewitnesses.

I wonder if anything new will come of this? Any new eyewitnesses? Any new photos or videos?

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

41 Responses to “Lake Van Monster Resurfaces”

  1. Scarfe responds:

    I had never heard of the Van Lake monster, nor of this video. I’m actually quite amazed by the video. No obvious rational explanation comes to my mind, although I’m sure there is one.

  2. TemplarKnight21c responds:

    Has anyone else noticed the recent luck of the Japanese, as far as catching elusive creatures on film is concerned? The giant squid, the coelocanth…Maybe that luck will carry over.

  3. kidkarysma responds:

    Sure is cool looking. It’s like it’s watching us watch it. Hope it’s not a hoax.

  4. planettom responds:

    Hi Craig,
    do we know if Cambridge University released any opinion on the photos or for examination, did Jacques Cousteau ever make it to the area? Curious video indeed. It’s one of those that just make me say “AHH! I want to see more!”
    What is it? I’m curious to see if the Japanese crew are able to turn up anything.

  5. Squib responds:

    I’ve noticed something very cool about the footage in the last part of the video to what I assume shows the head and eye you can see ripples created toward the front like those of the crocodiles sub-audible vibrations which are transmitted both in the water and on the surface. The vibrations are created by contracting their trunk muscles. The ripple effect is almost exact. Either that or it has a motor on it suggesting a fake.
    If this creature communicates by sub audible means it’s possible that it could could be located by an underwater mic through a distinct sound.

  6. shovethenos responds:

    Forget that alternate Loch Ness theory that circulated a while back – THAT looks like a swimming elephant. From the video it appears to be much longer than a swimming elephant would be, but it does look very elephant-like.

    And the hair on its “forehead” just above the eye means it pretty much has to be some kind of mammal. Do any paleontologists or armchair paleontologists out there know of any aquatic mammals that were closely related to elephants?

  7. Squib responds:

    Another thing I’ve noticed about the footage is the second scene in the video appears to be played in reverse. If you watch closely the wake or a white cap is behind the dirrection of the creature as it dives into the water from right to left. If you play it in reverse (left to right) it is emerging from the water with the water being pushed ahead of it. It looks very odd the way it is now and looks correct the other way try reversing the video manually and you’ll see what I mean.

  8. Squib responds:

    Elephants make sub audible sounds too, hmmm, interesting.

  9. rebo429 responds:

    If I remember correctly the sirenians (manatees and dugongs) are closely related to elephants, but I’m not saying thats what I think it is! I remember this footage when it was fresh on the net, and to this day, I still have yet to make any progress on what i think it is, besides a great film of a very odd, seemingly intelligent animal.

  10. Squib responds:

    My bet would be on elephent. The video I’ve seen so far seems to be oddly edited and that pic looks like an elephents head, the pink of the ear behind the eye is visible and I bet elephents sub audible sounds make the same vibrations in water as seen in the video.

  11. beachcomber responds:

    I’m sure I read that this was a giant squid of some sort.

    I can’t play the film but from what I can see there is a very squidy eye staring out.

  12. oldbutnotstupid responds:

    This one had me going since it came out but I now see it in a different light, the still shows an elephant no doubt. Hair above the eye and the pinkish top of the earlobe are clearly visible, now that shovethenos has pointed it out.

    Another one solved as far as I’m concerned.

    This is not a manatee or dugong. The ears are the dead giveaway.

  13. Bennymac responds:

    I remember when this first came out, had no idea what it could be, and still don’t. I am in no way convinced that it’s an elephant, or any type of sea cow.

    According to Wikipedia, the waters of Lake Van are loaded with Alkaline and Sodium Carbonate (brackish water). It would be difficult for any “known” animal to survive or thrive in that type of enviroment.

    Not saying it couldn’t happen, but we must look at the hoax side of things as well.

  14. ddh1969 responds:

    Sure, it COULD be an elephant but I’m not sold. I’ve yet to find a pic even close to this one.

    If anyone can produce a picture/video of a known elephant that looks like this please provide a link.

    From what I can tell an elephant’s trunk usually sticks out of the water. If this is an elephant, sure, parts where the trunk are visible could have been edited out, as usual

    Jjust need more info, don’t we all?

  15. frostea responds:

    I was going to say elephant also.

    And where is the rest of the video, not just the edited clips?

    Videos like this are all the same, short clips and in this video it seems like there should have been more footage

  16. Maohk Kiaayo responds:

    If its an elephant why is it not swimming with its trunk out of the water. And that eye is huge compared to the head Elephants arent like that.

  17. Ranatemporaria responds:

    What great footage, best I have seen, lake cryptid wise for a long time!

    Agree with #15 though, elephants use there tusks to snorkel whilst swimming hence the long neck type association with some sightings.

    Having said that, I can still see the resemblence

  18. UKCryptid responds:

    The second part of the video, to me, looks like a swimming Tapir and the ‘eye’ could actually be its ear. Not saying it’s not a bonafide ‘lake monster’, but that’s what it looks like to me. Not sure on the first half of the vid, maybe a family of them 😛 I’m aware Tapirs natually do not occur in Turkey before anyone lets me know 😛

  19. UKCryptid responds:

    In addition to my previous comment, why the abrupt end to the video? Perhaps if it had carried on, we’d have seen an animal emerge FROM the water, or see our crytpid submerge.

  20. Craig Woolheater responds:

    Loren and I both covered the swimming elephant as lake monster theory last March when it was proposed that was the answer for the Loch Ness Monster.


    Nessie as Elephant Theory Shortsighted


    Elephant or Lake Monster? What Do You Think?

  21. sundevit responds:

    Whatever it is, it’s not an elephant. I’m very familiar with elephant’s anatomy and no way this resembles an elephant’s head (or any other part of an elephant’s body, for that matter).

  22. Ranatemporaria responds:

    Sundevit – Perhaps if you checked the pics on the previous posts as pointed out by by Craig or simply google image search for elephant swimming you may see the argument.

  23. mystery_man responds:

    Yeah, I’m not getting the impression of an elephant either. It seems to move quite quickly and the location of that “eye” seems odd for that of an elephant. I just don’t think an elephant would carry itself in the water like that. This footage is very exciting. Yeah, the way it is edited is suspicious, but it sure doesn’t seem like a hoax. I think it shows so much detail such as the eye that even appears to be blinking and looking around, that it would be awfully elaborate for a hoax. I believe it shows some sort of real animal, but what? Some photo comparisons would be helpful here. Very interesting stuff.

  24. mystery_man responds:

    Looking closely at it, it almost looks like it has some sort of beak, if what I think is the front and back of the animal is correct. Could it be some sort of aquatic bird? I sure wish there was more for size comparison there. That would give a lot more to work on.

  25. twblack responds:

    I kind of always thought the video was of an elphant myself. But never have heard anymore about this lake and monster since then that I know of anyway.

  26. quill responds:

    Someone I talked to about this video told me that the creature had been confirmed to be an elephant, but I haven’t been provided any proof for that statement yet. I’ve done a few internet searches as well, but I found nothing about it being an elephant.

  27. shovethenos responds:

    Re: Elephants and Loch Ness. I don’t think the Loch Ness sightings are elephants, I thought that was a ridiculous theory.

    But I think this could be: the eye, what seem to be ears, the sparse hair on the forehead, the bubbles coming from where the trunk would be underwater, even the age spots that older elephants get. It looks like a carefully edited video of a swimming elephant. Whoever edited the video made sure to leave out any footage with the trunk above water. I could easily be wrong. But if it isn’t an elephant it is definitely a mammal and probably something pretty closely related.

    Its possible that people are seeing something else and this was a seperate hoax to cash in on the phenomenon.

    I also find it strange that the lake is so inhospitable to life and the sightings are really only since 1995 or so. If this was Champlain, Loch Ness, or Okanagon (sp?) where things have been seen for hundreds of years it would be less suspicious.

    There was a discussion on another site about giant squids, but there are a number of problems with that. They probably couldn’t survive the strange water conditons. The thought of someone catching one in the ocean and throwing it there and it surviving are almost nil. They don’t spend much time at the surface. They probably don’t have hair on their foreheads like the animal in the picture does, etc.

  28. Spook responds:

    Van Gölü (Lake Van) is too brackish for anything to exist in it except Darekh herring and some really strange but pretty Turkish Van cats who swim in it some times. To me this is just a poorly thought out hoax by a bored Armenian fellow trying to attract tourist to this depressed region of eastern Turkey. If he did his research he would know that areas like Van, Bitlis, and Ercis (et al) have a rich ancient history. The lake itself has a mysterious link to a biblical account of human origins. Also the lake is indirectly mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh (i.e. bitumen lake?). There was a ancient church out on an ihtmus, or island named Akdamar, into Van Gölü that had a mural on the wall of the ‘Garden of Eden’. It has long faded away. But do the math and figure out what Lake Van really might have been at one time before the Great Deluge of Noah… Hint: It has a ‘eastern opening’ away from the stratovolcanos mountains on the north and west. It’s real close to Mt. Ararat, and some rivers mentioned in Genesis that flow south through Mesopotamia…

    Also, on the dark side, there are horrible stories of how Russians massacred Armenians around the lake and threw the bodies into it.

    There is a nearby mountain/volcano (Nemrut Dagi) that has very strange and ancient statues erected at high elevations at the summit which I think has something to do with Alexander the Great or some mythos gods or something… Much more stranger than Easter Island!

    So ‘Unal Kozak’, you sly character, forget about this stupid non-existant monster and think about the ‘real’ attractions! The real monsters are near Lake Tele in the Congo Africa swamps!!!

  29. YarriWarrior responds:

    For pete’s sake, that is not an elephant. The ear of an elephant is not situtated that close to the eye. Plus that “eye” is too close to the top of the head. Animal X has an episode of the story, with interviews of the film’s shooter, and other people who also shot video footage.

    A very alkaline lake, but there are fish present(as pointed out above) so there has to be some sort of operating food chain. A video such as this that can’t be so easily explained away might be worth more than a second look.

  30. Ceroill responds:

    Ok, maybe I’m missing something, but I can’t find a link to the vid. I’m sure I’ll feel really stupid, but could someone please point out to me where the link is?

  31. crypto_randz responds:

    First of all, elephants are not the answer to Loch Ness.

    Then that means Lake Okanagan and Lake Champlain have elephants instead of mysterious lake dwellers.

    I think not.

    So that means the Sandra Mansi photo shows a circus elephant.

    I don’t think so.

    In the Lake Van photo, I’m not too sure, it could be anything.

    Elephant or Giant Squid, I don’t know.

  32. mystery_man responds:

    Yeah, I find it hard to believe that there would be so many stray elephants running around. There probably would have been eyewitness reports of elephants around the lake as they would be harder to miss than an elusive lake monster. I think trying to explain away all sightings as elephants would be just as irresponsible to cryptozoology as saying that every little blurry pic must be a lake monster.

  33. Craig Woolheater responds:

    In my original post, I gave the link to the CNN story, which has a link to a large (comparatively speaking) and a much smaller version of the video.

    But I’ll save you some time and post the direct links to the videos.

    Large version


    Small version

  34. Ceroill responds:

    Thanks Craig. Like I said, boy do I feel stupid. But, now that I have seen them, it’s obviously not an elephant. That closest shot is intrigueing. Well, all of the footage is interesting, but the close one is especially fascinating. Not enough info there to say just what this is. I look forward to future instalments and evidence.

  35. Maer responds:

    The end picture looks like the head of an elephant, but the trunk is not above water, also the first two scenes show something much longer. What I do see are air bubbles in front of what looks like the face. I wonder why it stayed in place so long, and how the picture that far out was so steady. There are a lot of cuts, I wonder how long the original film was?

  36. mystery_man responds:

    I was studying some pics of tapirs, and there is something very similar about the eye and general shape of this thing’s head that reminds me of one of these South American creatures. I can see it being more of a tapir than an elephant. Then again, it would still be an odd thing for a tapir to be swimming around in a Turkish, high alkaline lake. I wonder if there was anything for size comparison in the edited footage. That would be of immense value. One thing that someone mentioned that kind of makes me suspicious if it is true is that this thing has only been sighted since 1995. I would think that any sort of native cryptid would have been sighted since long before that.

  37. greenteaaddict responds:

    In the video, it does look like an elephant, but then, as mentioned before, why would an elephant be swimming around in a lake in turkey?

  38. praetorian2317 responds:

    Looks like an inanimate object being towed.

    An alkaline lake with very little going on in it biologically; the absence of any lake monster tradition or sightings before 1995 (or after for that matter); the videographer’s failure to produce an “expert” analysis of the footage (at the time it was taken he stated that it was going to be submitted to experts at Cambridge University for analysis).

    All this leads me to one inescapable conclusion: HOAX!

  39. mystery_man responds:

    The one thing that I find in this video that leads me away from the hoax idea is the apparent “eye”. It seems to be blinking and looking around, and I don’t think you’d find this sort of anomaly on something being towed through the water. The impression of an eye could be an optical illusion, but there is something definately animated there and it just seems to me that that is a rather intricate detail for a hoax. Something about that footage of its “head” seems to be that of some type of living creature. Be that an elephant, tapir, or whatever remains to be seen.

  40. CryptoInformant responds:

    Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold it! If it is a strongly Alkaline lake, then elephants, manatees, and other mammals are ruled out. The only vertebrate that can live in that situation, at least as far as we know is the flamingo, meaning we have to look at hoax or tough crocodilian. It reminds me, oddly enough, of Postosuchus, a Triassic LAND croc, so a croc is not out of the question. The end of the head tapers, suggesting a snout, but the dark skin color obscures the nostrils. If it is hoax done modeled after an elephant, it was done by an idiot because an elephant would not be out that far without its trunk elevated. As for the “hair”, it appears to be a picture defect.

  41. Megatherium responds:

    It’s difficult to tell if the last part of the video clip which contains the most detail – but the worst perspective – has any connection to the first portions of the video showing the unknown(s) swimming and submerging. If a connection can be made – then the elephant theory can be ruled out because while the head may resemble one – the rest of the odd notches, length of the creature, method and speed of motion in the water do not.

    The bubble-blowing aspect of the supposed head-shot is intriguing to me – both in a “I haven’t seen that before” and humorous way. Reminds me of my daughter playing motorboat in the bathtub. If the unknown is intelligent, maybe it’s doing the same!

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