Sunday, August 16, 1998 Published at 21:23 GMT 22:23 UK
Swedish sea monster makes waves
A "sighting" of Nessie - is there a Swedish cousin?
An expedition searching for a sea monster in a Swedish lake has reported promising findings. Tony Samstag reports
Almost everybody has heard about Scotland's Loch Ness monster, also known as Nessie. Fewer, I think it is safe to say, are acquainted with Thelma, the Norwegian equivalent; or, right next door, the Swedish variant, which is so elusive as to have not yet acquired a nickname.
This time of year, the silly season - which translates into the Scandinavian languages as "the cucumber time" - is of course also the high season for sea monsters everywhere.
In Norway, it has been some days since a high-powered scientific expedition set off in search of Thelma, sightings of which have been reported quite regularly since the 17th century in a large but otherwise non-descript lake a few hundred kilometres to the south-west of Oslo. And now it is Sweden's turn.
A fleet of 15 vessels has just set sail on a reasonably large body of water, known in Swedish, imaginatively enough, as Great Lake, about 400km north-west of the Swedish capital, in search of this no-name monster.
About 175 reported sightings over the last 400 years have described the monster variously as five to 15 metres long; serpent-like, or plump; grey, green or red in colour; with a head like a dog or like a fish; making a wailing, or perhaps it was a rattling, noise.
From these descriptions, it is clear that the Swedish monster has much in common with its Scottish or Norwegian counterparts. The latest sonar readings in Sweden's Great Lake - blips basically - confirm these similarities, and that they are somewhat inconclusive, but ever so encouraging.