Dragons are mythological creatures that have captured the interest of humans for millennia immemorial. They might be referred with different labels in the vast array of cultures across the globe, but the hypnotic pull they have on us is undeniable. Our fascination with these mythical winged creatures translates into various ways such as ancient mythology of the yore, or the popular TV series ‘Game Of Thrones’ in contemporary times. So when this self-proclaimed “dragon hunters” team of scientists explored an Alpine lake, they didn’t technically find a dragon. What they did find, however, was pretty darn close!

Tales of the yore

While most people today probably imagine dragons as massively winged reptilian creatures that breathe fire from their mouths, a great deal of folklore from different parts of the world have also described dragons being aquatic. A prominent example comes from natural historian Johann Weikhard von Valvasor who wrote about water-based dragons in Balkan mythology, all the way in 1689. Some people have even claimed to see these underwater creatures…

But could they be real?

But the stories from these people couldn’t possibly be real, right? These far-fetched tales of witnessing dragons, of the aquatic variety at that, were possibly just machinations of their delusional mind. Well, that is, until recently.While the truth behind these sort of tales has remained unanswerable, luckily, a dauntless group of 21st-century scientists wanted to get to the bottom of these myths… literally.

Reported sightings

These mysterious creatures were supposedly said to dwell in southeastern Europe’s aquatic caves, deep inside the karst of the Dinaric Alps, which overlooks the Adriatic Sea. These creatures have reportedly been sighted in Croatia, Italy, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. For now, Croatia seemed like a good place to start for these ‘dragon hunters’.

The “dragon hunters”

Association Hyla – formerly Croatian Herpetological Society – is an NGO founded in 1997 that is active in the field of nature conservation, especially for the protection of amphibians, reptiles and their habitats. In 2017, they assembled an international team of “dragon hunters” to find some dragons. The team, which consisted of actual biologists and cave divers, began its search in a Croatian lake named Zagorska peć.

They set out on their journey to discover!

After the assembly of the zealous ‘dragon hunters’, they set out to seek the object of their interests, dragons. As expected, the divers had to dive deep down into the aquatic cave systems to investigate and hopefully come across the elusive creature. Eventually, they got their first glimpse of what they came for—and it was unlike anything else on Earth!

They spotted something intruiging…

And deep in the depths of the Croatian Lake, they spotted something that could possibly be what they had been searching for. The thing they spotted shared a resemblance with a small eel. It had a thin, cylindrical body that seemed to be able to bend quite effortlessly. Could it be what they had been looking for? As it just so happened, it was!