Thursday, July 31, 2014

Creature of the Month: One-Eye: The Monster of Lake Granbury By Nick Redfern

Every year, in the city of Dallas, Texas (which is just a short drive from my Arlington home) I do a series of lectures on the subject of cryptozoology, otherwise known as the study of unknown animals. They are lectures organized by one of the local school-districts for kids aged from about 7 to 9.

Of course, they love hearing about such things as Bigfoot, Nessie, the Chupacabra, and the Yeti. And they love to pick my brains with a mass of questions!

But, it’s not just the kids that find the lectures intriguing. Occasionally, a parent or several will come along, to see what’s going on. And, sometimes, they will even share a story of the notable and intriguing kind.

In November 2013 – the month in which the most recent of my lectures took place – I had one parent come up to me and share a fascinating story. It all revolved around a supposed monster lurking in a certain, large body of water, one that is situated only a relatively short drive from where I live. Its name is Lake Granbury.

Before we get to the meat of the matter, a word or two about Lake Granbury is in order. Constructed in 1969, it serves as a dam for the Brazos River, which is the lake’s primary inflow. At more than 1,200 miles long, the Brazos River is the 11th longest river in the United States. And Lake Granbury is hardly small either: it has a surface area of 8,310 acres.

The approximately 75-foot-deep lake is home to wide and varied kinds of fish, including catfish, bass, gar, and sunfish. It’s a popular spot for a bit of fun, too: water-skiing, boating, and fishing are all very popular on weekends and holidays.

As far as the resident monster is concerned, it goes by the name of One Eye and is described as a classic lake-monster: dark gray in color, with a long neck, and a hump-like back. Irish creature-seeker Ronan Coghlan says: “Whether it has attained a one-eyed state by accident or whether it is naturally one-eyed, I cannot say.”

Although the lake itself is less than half a century old, the Brazos River has a long history of sightings of huge fish and mysterious creatures. Native Americans and early Spaniards talked of something terrible and savage lurking in the river. In 2010, a huge gar was hauled out of its waters.

Accounts such as these have given rise to the theory that the association between lake, dam, and river has, somehow, allowed the monsters to find their way into Lake Granbury. And, just maybe, there is some truth to the story; maybe a lot of truth. All of which brings us back to the story told to me one Friday afternoon, in a small classroom in Highland Park, a town of around 8,500 in central Dallas.

As the account went, it was a Saturday afternoon in August 1999. The woman in question was standing on a stretch of shoreline – which, I was later able to determine, was not at all far from a row of houses – hanging out with her then-boyfriend, now her husband.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, and at a distance of about forty-feet, a large animal lurched out of the water and, for about ten or fifteen seconds, partially beached itself on the land. It thrashed around violently, finally managing to return to the waters and vanishing into the depths. The utterly shocked couple estimated the animal was around seventeen-to-twenty feet in length, with a body-thickness of close to two-feet.

Very interestingly, the woman did not describe the creature as resembling a long-extinct plesiosaur, as so many other witnesses have in times past and present. Rather, she had no doubt whatsoever that it was a gigantic eel. As both she and her boyfriend fished regularly, they knew an eel when they saw it. But not usually – or, indeed, ever – of this size!

Certainly, the world of conventional zoology will assure you that eels simply do not – and cannot – reach such immense sizes. But, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Are the legends of One Eye based on sightings of giant eels? If so, how could they get so monstrously huge? The theories and the answers may intrigue you.

Richard Freeman, the Zoological Director of Britain’s Center for Fortean Zoology (CFZ), says: “Common eels swim out to the Sargasso Sea to breed then die. The baby eels follow scent trails back to their ancestral fresh waters homes and the cycle begins again. Sometimes, however, a mutation occurs and the eel is sterile. These stay in fresh water and keep on growing. Known as eunuch eels, no-one knows how old they get or how big.”

The CFZ’s head-honcho, Jon Downes, offers the following: “In February 2004 two Canadian tourists came upon a 25-foot eel floating in the shallows of Loch Ness. At first they thought it was dead but when it began to move they beat a hasty retreat.”

Roland Watson, the author of an excellent book, The Water Horses of Loch Ness, says at his Loch Ness Mystery blog that, “…it is well known that Loch Ness is teeming with eels. No one knows accurately how many eels inhabit the loch because of their behavior. This is because eels are classed as benthic or ‘bottom feeders’ in that they tend to live on or close to the surface of a sea or lake bottom.”

Jon Downes adds: “One theory suggests that these rare, naturally occurring, mutations may now be on the increase due to pollution. PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyls] have long been implicated in causing sterility in fish. Could they be causing more eunuch eels in the deep lakes of Scotland?”

Maybe that is exactly what is happening. And, perhaps, not just in Scottish lochs! One Eye might not be just a legend, after all…

Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including his new release Close Encounters of the Fatal Kind . He has appeared on more than 70 TV shows, including: Fox News; the BBC’s Out of This World; the SyFy Channel’s Proof Positive; the History Channel’s Monster Quest, America’s Book of Secrets, Ancient Aliens, and UFO Hunters; the National Geographic Channel’s Paranatural; and MSNBC’s CountdownNick writes regularly for UFO Magazine, Mysterious Universe, and Fate.

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