Sunday, June 10, 2012

ICEWATER SERPENT?: Out in the Cold in Iceland.

Ok, some things occasionally grow bigger than they're supposed to. But how much bigger could a freak growth be? That is one of cryptozoology's main conundrums which it often faces. Although the science is pretty definite that we are not going to be seeing giant ants like in the movie THEM anywhere but the cinema, how big could some worm or snake grow?

Many of you will already have seen this recent thing about a "giant worm" in Iceland. Doubtless the internet is swarming with speculation by now. But if you haven't, I'll give you a peek for what it's worth. The story was ignited by the filming of an Icelandic farmer of a strange shape that he saw in a "lake" [I think that this body of water is actually directly connected to the ocean]. That particular lake has had a reputation of having a serpentine monster, so the story had more flavor than usual.

The farmer saw this thing out of his window and began filming. I believe that the story is that he went outside then to get closer for better shots. What I'll do here is let you get an impression of the "thing" as you get closer to it.

As you can see, this "form", whatever it is, stays under the surface for the whole sequence --- it would have been EXTREMELY "handy" if it had broken the surface sometime. The fact that it didn't puts the alternative hypothesis of this being an unusual looking formation of a semi-solid boundary between thin ice sheets in a very strong position. In fact, I would not consider this very mysterious at all, were it not for two facts: 1). The farmer thought that this was quite unusual. To his eye [the best piece of optics in this story], the "thing" was indeed a Thing, and not just riven/slashed ice in a semi-solid lake surface. The fact that this farmer has been looking at this lake his whole life makes one believe that this was at least very unusual. 2). The farmer described the Thing as having a serpentine motion as it "swam". Well, my preference for crediting witness testimony [especially "expert" testimony, as this is a man whose is more experienced in looking at this lake than anybody], makes me pause and say: "Maybe, at least".

As usual, this incident needs a serious field investigation, not just the surface newsy interview of the ABC reporter. Example: How did the thing "go away"? Why did the farmer stop filming? If the form just "breaks up" eventually, the odd slash in the ice theory is THE theory. Once again, "news and entertainment" triumphs over the search for answers.

As mentioned, one of the reasons why this story had flavor is that it possibly melded into the local traditions that this lake had a formidable serpentine monster: The Lagarfljotsormur or Lagarfljotsormurinn, or alternatively, The Skrimsl. The local historian produced the 16th century map above which showed the elongated N/S "lake" to the middle right, with an old inscription saying that in this lake dwelt a giant serpent. So we know the legend stretches back into the Renaissance period, and therefore probably earlier. The cryptozoologist encyclopedist par excellence, George Eberhart, informs us that an early mention of the monster comes to us from 1345. Other sightings have been recorded from 1749, 1750, 1819, and a recent one in 1998. For some mysterious reason Arthur C. Clarke became interested in this legend and wrote to the Icelandic Museum of Natural History about their views. Well, you can imagine what members of that bastion of the establishment felt like saying back to another establishment giant. They issued Clarke a "very vinegary response" that all these sightings have ever been were floating tree limbs et al. Doubtless they had observed that "scientifically" themselves, including time-traveling to 1345 to get the early one. But, what-the-heck, they MAY be right. It's just that they have no right to say so absolutely nor authoritatively.

The Lagarfljotsormur or Skrimsl has been described as a 40'+ serpentine creature with a 6' neck, whiskered face and a long thinner tail. It is supposedly pale-colored. As you can read/see our recent film doesn't match this very well --- maybe it's a baby Skrimsl. The big fellow DID swim with undulations like a snake though so there's at least something in common. Allegedly there is a photograph from the 1998 sighting though I've not seen it.

Somewhere in my research files I have a huge list of sightings of things like this from Gary Mangiacopra, but wouldn't you know it?, it's one of the few basic resources that is still back in West Virginia. So, I'll have to leave the background information as it is. Doubtless many others know more.

Because there was that 16th century Icelandic map which showed the lake with the inscription about its sea serpent, I wondered if that great purveyor of anomalistic map information, Olaus Magnus, had it on his Carta Marina. ..... but I can't find it there. He does have something non-sea-serpentry though.

Up in the upper right corner he pictures some sort of mountain troll, apparently, sawing away on a fiddle, and attracting sea creatures, two of which could possibly be serpentine. Also, there is the mysterious [?] "Criptoporticus" caves burrowed into the hills with no further clues as to their meaning. Troll homes? Well, it is at least fun to think about. This line of "thought" somewhat interests me for several reasons: 1). Iceland is frequently in the news because of stories about their local faeries/trolls and the bad "luck" one might incur if you mess with them; 2). as readers of this blog know, I tend to lean towards a paranormal hypothesis about the better witnessed lake monster situations; and 3). on the ABC news brief, the commentator asked a local biologist what he believed about the Lagarfljotsormur, and the fellow said that he did not believe that it could be a physical monster, because there wasn't enough food supply. The commentator followed on with a single comment about fish, but never picked up on why the fellow said "physical" with a bit of emphasis. It could have been true that the local biologist thought that the thing was real, but NOT "physical". And that would be quite within Icelandic traditions.

Do we have "trolls"/ faerie in Iceland? Icelanders sure think so. And Olaus Magnus may have too. In the nearby Greenland area of the map, he might be picturing a confrontation between a Greenlander and a shorter troll man. Did Lagarfljotsormur have anything to do with them? Maybe. Did they have anything to do with this latest film? I think that the odds are against it, but at least the story brought back up the mystery of that area, and it's possible paranormal connections.


  1. It's a cool effect. But it's just ice. The video makes clear there are small ice sheets moving all over the place, running past each other.

    When this came out in February, I wrote:

    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.

    1. Probably, yes. But I'd still like to hear what the farmer says about why he stopped filming [if he did], and how the form "went away". Once again, the lack of a field investigation leaves us "on thin ice" and just going with "logic" or "common sense", whatever those two things are.

    2. I don't know how much time you spend on youtube, but this is a common complaint about UFO videos: they seem to start and stop at convenient moments, leaving many to wonder if something mundane and explanatory was left out. Also, I have asked many uploaders if they had walked over to the UFO's apparent vicinity to get a better look; so far, not a single person has -- they are perfectly happy to claim they've documented a "spaceship" without bothering to verify. One lad had a video of a daylight landing of what he claimed were two craft. I asked if he had walked over, as the landing spot was quite close, but he said he was too busy! Too busy! When I pressed, he said it too was hard to get there. Too hard! Alien craft! Greatest discovery in history! Excuses!

    3. I spend almost no time on you-tube.

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  3. This is an optical illustion, in which something flexible in the water is caught mid-stream and the water flows around it, making it appear to be a "serpentine cryptid."

    Skeptic Miisa McKeown, who did an investigation, with screen captures, had this to say: “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.” McKeown went on to tell the UK's Telegraph: “The movement was the most fascinating aspect, but when I realized how quickly the water was flowing I figured that could very well cause that effect on a flexible object trapped there.”

    She found that the object was stationary in the water, and although it appeared to be progressing up the stream, it was not.

    1. The "object" is water, in my opinion.

      I see you quote the Telegraph. Did you come across any media asking the farmer if there was more footage?

  4. Hello The Professor! I work with NBC, and am working on a story about mysterious sea serpents. I'd like to talk with you about some of your illustrations in your post.

    1. ... post was many posts ago and memory fades. The vast majority of these illustrations are from 16th century maps of Olaus Magnus. [and film clips of the "ice monster" which was all over the web of course]. I just zero'd in on small sections of the Olaus Magnus map and sectioned it into interesting scenes.