06-Apr-87 2253 MST Sb AP 04/04 Swedish Nessie By ARTHUR MAX Associated Press Writer STOCKH

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06-Apr-87 22:53 MST Sb: AP 04/04 Swedish Nessie By ARTHUR MAX Associated Press Writer STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -- Does Nessie, the monster of Scotland's Loch Ness, have a great-aunt Greta who lives in a huge mountain lake in northern Sweden? Scientists say they will make a search to find out. Sten Rentzhog, a local curator, said his staff has collected reports from 400 people who claim to have seen a monster in Lake Storsjon, 300 miles north of Stockholm. The first reported sighting was in 1635, almost 300 years before someone first claimed to see Nessie in December 1933. Rentzhog runs the county museum in nearby Ostersund and is director of the newly formed Society for Investigating the Great Lake. Lars Thofeldt, a member of the 12-man scientific team, said no clear picture of the monster emerges from the accounts. He is a botanist and teaches at the college in Ostersund. "Some people said they saw a large neck undulating back and forth that looked like a horse's mane," Thofeldt told The Associated Press by telephone. "Others observed a large wormlike creature." Rentzhog said: "Scientifically, you can't say it exists until it is proved, but there is at least as much evidence as there is about the Loch Ness monster." Reports of the creature's size also differ. One of the earliest reports described it as large enough to wrap its body around one of Storsjon's many islands, but later ones give a variety of lengths ranging from 10 feet to 42. The Loch Ness monster is described as 40 to 50 feet long. One of many theories is that the reported monster was trapped in the Swedish lake 15,000 years ago, during the Ice Age. Thofeldt said it could be a water reptile or akin to a large snail. Human settlement in the Storsjon Basin has been traced to the Iron Age around 400 B.C., making it the oldest inhabited area in Scandinavia, Rentzhog said. Although the Great Lake society will search for evidence of the monster, Thofeldt said, its "real aim is to investigate the area and to create an interest for bringing qualified enterprises here." Swedish news reports said submarines would probe the lake, which is 243 feet deep and covers an area of 164 square miles. "It would be a splendid idea to go down with headlights and cameras," Thofeldt said, but it was doubtful the society could raise enough money. Among the first tasks he listed: Collate information from the sighting reports, try to identify any pattern in timing or location and compare notes with other organizations, such as the Loch Ness Society. Copyright 1987 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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