Mooresville Tribune Article

What’s in the water? New website tells all
By Jaime Gatton
The Mooresville Tribune
Published September 4, 2002

Have you ever been swimming in Lake Norman when, all of a sudden, something starts nibbling at your toes or a freckle on your leg?

Many people have, but they don’t think too much of it, chalking it up to a hungry little fish trying to find a bite to eat. But maybe it’s not a small innocent fish. Maybe it’s something else. Ooooh.

Indeed, many people have different suspicions of what’s frolicking around in the deep, dark waters of Lake Norman, and some of them have even reported sightings of an unexplained creature in the lake — many times only to be scoffed at by skeptics.

But now, those people have somewhere to report and document their suspicions and to read about others who have had similar experiences while visiting North Carolina’s largest lake.

It’s a new website, www.LakeNormanMonster.com, and it was created by 28-year-old Matt Myers, a professional web designer and graphic artist who moved to Mooresville in the fall of 2000.

He says ever since he moved here, he’s been hearing fish stories about Lake Norman, and his interest in the tales peaked after a friend of his bought a boat and the two buddies started hanging out on the lake.

“While my future in-laws were in town planning (my) upcoming wedding, I was trying to stay as far out of the hubbub as possible,” Myers says with a laugh. “I spent the time putting together a small site for people to submit their own monster fish stories.

“It was just for fun to start with,” he adds. “However, it’s taken on a life of it’s own and grown and grown and grown.”

For years, visitors to Lake Norman have reported strange sightings, from colossal-sized catfish and freshwater jellyfish to lazy alligators sunning on docks and sandbars.

And sure enough, according to Jan-Ove Sundberg, Swedish cryptozoologist and expedition leader for GUST (the Global Underwater Search Team), several of the sightings were substantiated: a Lake Norman alligator was caught on tape last year and record-breaking Arkansas blue catfish have been caught in the lake, even though that species of fish has never been stocked there. Also, Sundberg notes, scientists continue to be baffled by the appearance of a species of freshwater jellyfish that is not indigenous to either Lake Norman or the Catawba River which feeds it.

Even still, many people dismiss occasional sightings in Lake Norman as mere flights of fancy. But others hold firm to their belief that somewhere in the depths of the lake’s waters lives an unidentified species — a Lake Norman Monster, if you will — that occasionally finds its way to the surface of the lake just to tease a few people before plunging back down into the pits of the lake.

“Have I ever seen anything strange on the lake?” Myers asks himself. “Have you ever been out on the lake on the weekend?” he responds with a grin.

“Seriously,” he adds, “I’ve never seen a ‘monster’ myself, but being a child at heart, I’m open to the possibility.”

And according to hits on LakeNormanMonster.com, many other people are also interested in the prospect of a lake monster, even if they don’t necessarily believe it. In May — the first month the site was up — Myers says 27 unique visitors had viewed the site. In June, the number of visitors jumped to 2,190, and it rose again in July with 2,228. As of Aug. 20, 5,286 people had visited the site.

Some of them are writing of their own sightings — at least two of which were around Marker 13 and Blythe Landing — and Myers says he receives “many letters from visitors who have seen something and who believe that what they saw was the Lake Norman Monster.”

LakeNormanMonster.com gives those people an outlet to report what they saw, and it gives others a chance to read about the sightings. The site also offers interesting facts about Lake Norman and its history, a free monthly newsletter and free eCards featuring a cartoon image of the Lake Norman Monster dubbed “Normie” by lake locals. Souvenirs — t-shirts, mugs, hats and more — can also be purchased from the website.

The website, which Myers frequently updates, also features a special introduction by Sundberg who is a cryptozoologist — a person who studies creatures whose existence hasn’t been substantiated — and is best known for his documentaries on The Learning Channel, including his most recent one, “Loch Ness: The Search for the Truth.”

“Jan has taken quite an interest in Lake Norman,” Myers says, adding that LakeNormanMonster.com is featured on Sundberg’s website.

Myers is looking for sponsors for his website, and he says he is always searching for new and interesting facts about Lake Norman, the Catawba River and lake monsters in general.

This article is reprinted with permission of The Mooresville Tribune.
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