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The Lake Van Monster is a cryptid seen in Lake Van in south of Mount Ararat, in Eastern Turkey. Some of the most known documented sightings of the creature appeared between 1995 and 1997 but first sighting is documented in 1889 at Lake Van, the largest lake in Turkey. Its Turkish name is Van Gölü Canavarı.

The Lake Van Monster has allegedly been sighted by over a thousand eyewitnesses. The monster is said to resemble ancient marine reptiles such as a plesiosaur, which also shares characteristics with the famous Loch Ness Monster. Sightings have been reported to international since November 2,1995 on Daily Telegraph article, but some research suggests that the creature has been seen prior to that time. A supposed short video of the Lake Van Monster was filmed in 1997 by 26 year old Van University teaching assistant, Unal Kozak. This Controversial video has baffled researchers as to the identification of the creature in the film. Some claim to have seen a beak; others seem positive it is nothing more than a swimming elephant, where as skeptics refuse to see anything other than a pile of garbage bags being dragged through the deep waters of the lake. In late 1997 the film was aired on CNN and since then has become the center of a firestorm of cryptozoological controversy. The Turkish scientific community is at a loss to explain the identity and origin of the animal and Biology professor at Ataturk University in Erzurum, Orhan Erman, claims that there is nothing that even remotely resembles the Van Lake Monster capable of living in the lake, stating "It is simply not possible for a creature of the size claimed by witnesses to live in a closed lake like Van."Also Like Van is a soda lake so nothing can live there.

Possible explanations for the sightnings are ancient creatures such as a Plesiosaur or a Mosasaur, and even a squid as some suggest, have never been confirmed.

Habitat

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Lake Van, Google Earth

Lake Van is the largest lake in Turkey with a surface area of 3,775 km2. It is a saline soda lake, receiving water from numerous small streams that descend from the surrounding mountains. Lake Van is one of the world's largest endorheic lakes. Lake Van is 119 kilometres across at its widest point, averaging a depth of 171 metres with a maximum recorded depth of 451 metres. The lake water is strongly alkaline and rich in sodium carbonate and other salts.

The only fish known to live in the brackish water of Lake Van is Chalcalburnus tarichi the Pearl Mullet, a Cyprinid fish related to chub and dace. 103 species of phytoplankton and 36 species of zooplankton have been recorded in the lake. Also an endemic Enchytraeus variety worm discovered in 2012.

History

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An illustration of the scene

In 2010 an 121 years old newspaper article has been found about a big creature sighting in Lake Van. The article was published at a newspaper named Saadet News in Ottoman period year 1889.The article tells about a sighting report of 3 men traveling from Tatvan to Ahlat. Travelers says that they were camping near the lake and they wanted to wash their hands with the water of the lake. While they were washing, a big creature appeared in the water quickly and attacked them. It captured one of three from his leg and tried to pull him into the lake. Other two tried to save their friends but their strength wasn't enough to rescue him because the creature was too strong. So they picked some fire from their camp and attacked with fire to the creature. When fire touched to the creature, it screamed in extremely ear pain and flee to deeps of lake and took the man within him. The man that is captured never to be found. 
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Saadet News April 29 1889

This is the oldest sighting report of Lake Van Monster that is documented but there are some thoughts about earlier references. In Akdamar Island which is the biggest island in Lake Van, there is an Armanian church named Akdamar Church made in AD 915. Church's outer walls are covered with stone carving pictures. In one picture a sea monster-like creature can clearly be seen underneath a ship. Majority thinks that this picture is a reference to Lake Van Monster. If this picture is really a reference to Lake Van Monster, that means it is known for more than a thousand years.
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Wall carvings from Akdamar Church, illustration of a sea monster-like creature

In Popular Media

- Lake Van Monster dominated the whole Turkish media and news in years 1995-1997 because of sighting reports and rumors around the country. Even the Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit wrote a poem titled "Van Gölü Canavarı" which means Lake Van Monster.

- An Australian TV show named Animal X featured Lake Van Monster in Season 1 Episode 3.

- Josh Gates and his team search for the Lake Van monster on Destination Truth. Season 3, episode 305 "Alien Mummies/Van Lake Monster".

- The Lake Van Monster appears in The Secret Saturdays episode "The Unblinking Eye" as a Mosasaurus-like creature.

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Lake Van Monster in "The Secret Saturdays"

Gallery

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Statue of Lake Van Monster in Gevash District/Van

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An Illustration of Lake Van Monster