News / 7 December, 2011

‘Nessie of the Lea’ mystery as river raider lurks beneath

A mysterious and dangerous creature has returned to the River Lea and its presence is causing more than a wind in the willows

River Lea monster by Hackney artist Stik

Olympic swimmer: “Beneath the surface of the Lea, in the shadow of the London 2012 stadium, swims something big and hungry. It may struggle to keep its head above water this winter but at least it’ll be having goose for Christmas!” says Hackney artist Stik. Photograph: Dan Beecroft

A beast that once haunted Hackney’s waterways could be back after a resident witnessed the sudden death of a 16lb Canada goose on a nearby canal.

Mike Wells, a filmmaker who lives in the Lea Valley near the new £9bn Olympic Park, witnessed the goose being dragged under while having coffee on the river with friends.

He told the Hackney Citizen: “It was about midday. We were sat on deck of my boat watching the goose. Suddenly the bird just went vertically down into the water. I was absolutely gobsmacked.

“Whatever took it didn’t come back up again. There was no sign of it whatsoever, but it was obviously pretty big.”

According to Mike, similar sightings have also been recorded at nearby Springfield Marina.

The events have echoes of a spate of large bird attacks along the canals next to Hackney Marshes six years ago. Lea Rivers Trust staff reported seeing a Canada goose being dragged beneath the surface in 2005, and large holes were found burrowed into the bank of the river.

The incidents were linked to a giant turtle or alligator at the time. The mystery predator disappeared before it was discovered, but it now seems to have returned.

Hackney resident Michael Allen, a zoology graduate, believes it may be a reptile. He said: “It could be an escaped pet snake like a python. It could survive in this climate, although it would be a bit sluggish. A small goose or a duck could be a perfect meal for it.”

A spokeswoman at British Waterways told the Hackney Citizen: “We have had big terrapins found in other parts of London. It may just be a giant pike, or a mink.”

She added: “We want to provide a habitat for all of the creatures on the Lea Valley waterways unless they’re invasive. If a creature was found to be invasive, action will be taken.”

/ 7 December, 2011
  • Hamish

    Scary stuff – that’s the last time I’ll go for a refreshing wild swim in the canal at midnight.

  • The Great Smell Of Brute

    Here be dragons!

  • Pond Life

    It’s bottom dweller (no pun intended) Julian Pikeshaft

  • The Great Smell Of Brute

    ROFL! 😀

  • paul

    that zoology teaching really was worth learning, how the hell could a python survive in the uk? the temps are far far to low for them to function especially at this time of the year,,, back to the classroom me thinks

  • James

    It is either a Wells catfish or a snapping turtle.

  • Ivor Bigun

    I think that it is poachers with scuba gear.

  • Wayne Carr

    Or those pesky kids from RFUK!

  • laurence

    wow, that zoology degree was worth it! a python… in water… in the UK… in winter! go back to school, Mr Allen.

    as for the poor goose… what type of goose was it? If it was an Egyptian, i have seen them vanish under the water only to surface some distance away.

  • Antz

    Escaped python? In this weather? Get real!! Main reason we don’t have the same problem as the states with escapees living wild is that not much in the exotic reptile family can actually survive the british winters.

  • Michael

    I blame that BANKSY bloke. No doubt another of his stunts in the name of Art!

  • Tommy Tank

    What is that creature with the white head and stony black eyes behind the swan that’s just in front of the wall?

    Could that be the beast that lurks below in the depths of the river Lea?

  • Bear Grylls

    OK then I’ll fess up. It was me. You cannot beat a nice roast goose on Christmas day.
    Merry Christmas x

  • who knows…

    Maybe the goose was just depressed.

  • Depressed duck

    Depressed? Certainly a bit under!

  • who knows…

    The sight of another “filmmaker” was probably the last straw.

  • andrew

    definately wels catfish if not some other sort of catfish if witness testifies to goose being sucked under the water then it was eaten whole crocs and alligatorswould have breached turtles would have struggle because they dont swallow things whole wels catfish grow to epic proportions and i have seen specimens which could easily swallow a goose whole and some urban legends of which come from the area in which this wa witnessed of man eating wels

  • bob

    It’s the EDL!!

  • The Great Smell Of Brute

    @Bob: are you suggesting that the EDL has local support? 😛

  • The Great Smell Of Brute

    @Andrew: it’s a shame that catfish large enough to eat a goose aren’t considered palatable – unless, perhaps, some local entrepreneur can persuade Olympic tourists otherwise… 😉

  • bob

    @GSOB it’s what every fish n chip shop In Hackney is selling as Cod

  • I dont think its a gator or croc surely someone would have seen it basking in the sun .What puzzles me is why nobody has tried to solve the problem by catching it ,i know if i still lived in the area i would have to at least try to find out ,have Londoners lost there inquisitiveness.


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