By Sophie Freeman (Telegraph Media Group)
Last Updated: 1:00pm BST 18/07/2007
The Loch Ness monster has been the stuff of Scottish legend for centuries - and now China has its own version of the much-hunted Nessie.
A rare video, filmed by a tourist in remote Western China, has captured what appears to be several huge creatures swimming across Lake Kanasi.
State-run television station Chinese Central Television described the footage as the clearest yet seen of a legendary beast rumoured to live in the depths of the lake.
Two years ago, two 10 metre-long black creatures were spotted on the surface of the lake, swimming from the shore to the centre - but this is the first sighting since that time.
Chinese Central Television did not attempt to identify the animals seen in the video, simply saying: “This time a large number of unidentified creatures emerged, bringing more mystery to Lake Kanasi.”
Yuan Guoying of the Xinjiang Institute of Environmental Protection, has been on the trail of the unknown creatures since 1980 and experienced his first sighting in 1985.
He said: “They looked like reddish-brown tadpoles because I could only see their heads on the surface. They opened their mouths to breathe and their length was about 10 to 15 metres.”
Professor Yuan spotted the animals again on May 28, 2004 when he was standing looking down at the lake from a nearby hill.
“I thought there was a huge piece of black plastic in the lake and that someone had been polluting it. But then I released that it must be the back of a giant fish. I was shocked because they were just too big. Looking at them was like looking at submarines.”
Local residents have long believed that the sea animals have been responsible for missing sheep, cows and even horses, blaming them for dragging the livestock into the deep water to devour them.
The animals that roam Lake Kanasi live in an area about 24 kilometres by two kilometres and in depths of up to 188 metres.
But researchers in the 1980s dismissed the Chinese Nessie as a huge member of the salmon family.