This is one of a series of short stories and fictional field reports from a team of globe-trotting paranormal investigators. This entry is written by the character, Allan Barnes.
“It’s coming toward us.” The tone in Pol Visser’s voice was a combination of delight and agitation. At least he was in the protected cabin of the boat. I was alone on the bow, peering into the inky-black water with my night-vision binoculars.
“I don’t see anything,” I shouted back to him.
“It’s something really big,” he exclaimed. “Really big, on your right. I reckon 5 to 7 meters. Might surface any second now.”
I braced myself on the edge of the boat and frantically scanned the water. I fumbled for the camera while keeping an eye on whatever might surface. Pol cut the engine and the boat coasted along. The only sound was the water lapping the sides of the boat as it cut through the water, creating a subtle wake.
Even though it is August, it is cold out on the lake at midnight. And it’s eerie, especially when there’s a possibility that the legendary lake serpent named “Selma” might surface for a midnight snack.
I am on a boat in the middle of Lake Seljordsvatnet, in Telemark, Norway with South African cryptozoologist Pol Visser, London-based paranormal researchers Sheilagh McGlinn and Dave Epping, and my US-based team consisting of Lourdes Laguna, Claire Heins, and Paul Nordstrom (Paul, Claire, Dave, and Sheilagh are sleeping at the inn since they have the morning shift on the lake).
We are all looking for evidence of the Seljord Serpent.
The lake serpent of Sejord, Norway dates back to the 18th century. There have been numerous sightings by locals who describe it as a large serpentine creature.
Numerous expeditions have attempted to wrest this mystery from the lake, including a 1998 expedition that was the subject of a Discovery Channel TV documentary. A large trawling net was used several years later in a grand attempt to capture the serpent.
Legend has it that there are caves in the lake where the serpent takes refuge. A tunnel is said to connect the deepest point in the lake to the sea (where some believe the lake serpents ultimately come from). There has been no evidence found of these caves or an underwater connection to the sea in Lake Sejordsvatnet.
The amount of attention that the lake has received, especially since the first major expedition in the summer of 1998 by the Global Underwater Search Team (GUST), has produced tantalizing photographs and videos that suggest, but do not conclusively show, a lake serpent.
We all decided to convene on the lake for a week-long search after yet the serpent was caught on video a few weeks ago (July 2012).
“What’s the status?” I called out to Pol, who was rapidly looking back and forth from the monitor to the lake.
“It veered off,” he finally said.
This was the third night that we’ve been on the lake, and this is the closest that we’ve come to seeing anything.
Lake Seljordsvatnet is fairly small — about 14 kilometers long and about 1 kilometer wide at its widest point. Officially, the lake is about 138 meters deep, although depths of up to 157 meters have been reported.
The town of Seljord has a population of about 3000, and there are various houses scattered along the shoreline. Local residents are fiercely protective of their serpent. They are friendly, but don’t talk about disturbing or capturing the creature around them.
It’s fairly small for a lake that supposedly contains a large, 5 meter long sea serpent (some reports have it longer than that). The size of the lake makes it fairly easy to monitor. But so far we’ve turned up nothing.
Our sonar equipment has turned up no anomalies. Our fish finders hadn’t shown anything approaching the length of a lake serpent. Our remote camera submarine, despite struggling with low visibility, also hadn’t captured anything unusual.
I glanced over at Lourdes who scanned the water off the left side of the boat. Pol stared intently at the monitor in the cabin of our boat.
“There it is again!” Pol shouted to us, excitement returning to his voice. “It’s in front of us!”
Lourdes and I immediately ran to the front of the boat, searching the surface with our night vision binoculars.
“Ten meters away, thereabouts,” Paul said. “It’s coming straight toward us!”
There’s no doubt that some lake monster sightings are nothing more than natural phenomenon that become something more when legend colors the observers interpretation.
A rotting log on the bottom of a lake that fills with gas from bacteria can explosively surface, giving the impression that a serpentine creature came up for air — especially at a great distance, from which most lake monster sightings occur.
In a narrow lake like Seljordsvatnet, boat wakes can persist long after a boat has passed. A wake can also make its way to shore and rebound back toward the center of the lake, giving the impression that some moving object below the surface is stirring the water long after the boat that created the wave is out of sight.
“It’s to our left, slow approach,” Pol shouted from the cabin. I readied the night-vision camcorder and turned on the infrared flood light. The boat rocked gently, but looking through a 200-millimeter lens made me nauseous.
“It’s right up under us,” Pol said. I couldn’t help but crack a smile because of his frantic excitement. “I’m getting good clear readings,” he continued as he compared the paper printouts with what he was seeing on the screen.
I told Lourdes to keep a watch out while I popped into the cabin to take a look at the scanner screen.
“Damn,” Pol said as I entered. I looked at the screen but there was nothing there. Nothing big, anyways.
“What happened?” I asked.
“It just swam under us for a few seconds, then it disappeared — vanished,” he said, a tinge of disappointment tempering his usual exuberant demeanor.
What I saw on Pol’s printouts looked like a large, maybe serpentine object. Without a visual, though, there was no way to know for certain if it was one 5-meter long creature, or shoaling fish.
We floated on the lake for about ten more minutes but saw nothing. We fired up the boat engine and circled around a few times but still saw nothing. The rest of the night was uneventful.
Two days later when we wrapped our investigation on the lake, we left with only our odd experience and fond memories of Norwegian hospitality. And a remaining mystery.
Allan Barnes is a lead field investigator for Xpara International, a global paranormal research organization. Read more paranormal investigation field reports.