In 1995, in Turkey’s largest lake, reports of a unknown creature began. Lake Van covers a 1,450 square miles and measures 74 miles across at its widest point. The maximum depth varies depending on the part of the lake and ranges from 1,300 ft to 490 ft. Lake Van has no outlets and is strongly alkaline (pH 9.7–9.8) being fed by rain water and small streams flowing from the surrounding mountains.
The reports started in 1995, but didn’t really get any big attention until 1997, when a video of the creature and blurry photos were taken and even prompted a CNN.com article, published June 12th 1997. The creature is said to be about 50 feet in length and appears similar to a Plesiosaur or Ichthyosaurus type dinosaur.
Local Van University teaching assistant Unal Kozak, is said to have collected over 1,000 witnesses reports, wrote a book and was responsible for capturing the now famous Van Lake Monster video below.
Lake Van’s strongly alkaline nature severely limits the amount and type of fish that live in the lake. A type of Pearl Mullet that lives in the brackish waters where the streams flow into the lake is the only known fish to inhabit Lake Van. The lack of a food source may be an issue as a creature the size of the one described would require quite a bit food. The lake does support multiple types of plankton, so if the Van Gölü Canavarı is a vegetarian, there may be sufficient food to support a creature of that size.
Reports continue as recent as two years ago. snailstales.blogspot.com references a Turkish article online that reports the crew of a ferry boat running between the city of Van and the city of Tatvan saw a “creature” resembling a “very large whale”.
The Monster of Lake Van has become a bit of a celebrity with a 13 foot statue in the city of Van in its honor.