Sea monster or monster hoax? Amateur captures video of alleged lake beast

[This is from an old CNN story back from 1997. I thought it was intersting and worth adding to the guide's archives. I'd like to do some more research and see what has developed. -Ed.]

Sea monster or monster hoax?
Amateur captures video of alleged lake beast
June 12, 1997
Web posted at: 5:43 p.m. EDT (1743 GMT)

VAN, Eastern Turkey (WTN) -- Sightings of the Lake Van monster were first reported about two years ago, but further evidence was offered on Tuesday: bad quality amateur pictures of something long and dark moving in the middle of the lake.

After each sighting, professional camera crews have rented boats to try to capture the alleged beast clearly on film, but were unsuccessful each time.

The subject became an obsession for 26-year-old Unal Kozak, a Van University teaching assistant who has been talking to eyewitnesses since the first sightings.

Stationing himself at spots where most of the sightings were reported, Kozak says he saw and filmed the so-called monster on three occasions. Kozak also wrote a book on the creature, including drawings of the monster based on the descriptions of some 1,000 witnesses.

He says the creature is about 15 meters (49.5 feet) long. Public opinion is divided over whether the Lake Van monster is a clever hoax to attract visitors to a region that could use some tourist revenue.

The city of Van is in an underdeveloped area of eastern Turkey that for years has lost out to holiday resorts in the west of the country.

The pictures have been sent to Cambridge University for examination, and Jacques Cousteau, the world-famous marine biologist, is expected to visit and examine the lake.