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Roll Over, Nessie 

Website follows reports of Lake Norman "monster"

Loch Ness, shmoch ness. Who cares about some kilt-wearing sissy named Nessie when "Normie" may be out there. We're talking about the Lake Norman Monster, of course, which just happens to coincide with the name of a new website keeping track of all the strange goings-on at North Carolina's largest man-made lake. Mooresville resident Matt Myers started LakeNormanMonster.com in May after he kept hearing stories and speculation from folks claiming to have encountered something big and scary in the lake's waters. "I figured it would be a great forum for people to post their sightings," Myers said. So far, three "legitimate" encounters have been posted. In one, a Matthews resident reported that while swimming in the lake, she felt something brush up against her leg, prompting her to swim like a madwoman towards her friend's dock. All of a sudden, something that "looked like a fin" popped out of the water.

A visitor from Wisconsin also had a run-in with something strange when he was swimming in the northern part of the lake. "I saw the water part like something was coming at me," the posting reads. "I began to swim to our house boat when I felt it skim across my legs. It seemed to take forever to finally pass me." When the scared swimmer finally got aboard the boat, he saw a shadow "shaped like a giant snake with lots of fins" dive deep into the water.

Rumors and sightings of strange creatures lurking about in lakes have occurred all over the world. Besides Scotland's famed Loch Ness monster, "Nessie," you also have creatures like Lake Erie's "South Bay Bessie," Lake Tahoe's "Tessie," and Chesapeake Bay's "Chessie." So why not Lake Norman's "Normie?"

Folks were shocked last year when one monster of sorts an alligator sunning itself on the bank was caught on film. What it was doing so far north and inland is a mystery, as is how it survived the winters -- or if it brought its family with it. Other rumors of human-sized catfish residing in the lake were confirmed when Troutman resident Grady Harpe landed a massive catfish in 1999 that weighed nearly 70 pounds and measured over four feet long. One lake resident has baffled local scientists: a species of freshwater jellyfish that is not indigenous to either Lake Norman or the Catawba River which feeds the lake. One current theory is that "Normie" might be an Alligator Gar, an unusual looking fish with a long, slender, cylindrical body and snout, with two rows of large teeth on either side of its upper jaw.

Whatever it is an alligator, giant catfish, or perhaps a genetic mutation created by a mixture of nuclear plant radiation and sewage -- if you have any strange encounters at Lake Norman (drunk fishermen don't count) you know where to report it.

LakeNormanMonster.com also offers various facts and a history of the lake, and visitors can send eCards featuring a cartoon image of "Normie" and purchase souvenir t-shirts, mugs, hats, towels and more.

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