Lake Monsters

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Sep 5, 2008, 10:02:50 PM9/5/08
Lake Monsters

The Loch Ness monster, affectionately called "Nessie," is arguably the most famous example of a lake monster. She is not, however, alone. Many large, deep lakes all over the world have their own resident monster.

Science and the skeptics tell us that lake monsters are logs, otters, large fish, eels, boat wakes, and other misidentified mundane objects and illusions. If this is all there is to lake monsters, though, then why are they not reported in all bodies of water? There are many lakes which would seem to be large enough to support at least one monster, but no sightings at all are reported.

Cryptozoologists think that lake monsters are real animals, but are not all in agreement on what they are. Some, such as Nessie herself, are thought to be prehistoric animals who have managed to maintain a small breeding population in these deep lakes, some of which are said to have ocean access. Others think that lake monsters are giant eels or a completely unknown animal. Although there are pictures and video clips of several of the more famous lake monsters, such as Nessie, Champ, and Ogopogo, they are generally as elusive as Bigfoot and their true nature is still a matter of speculation.

Champ, the monster of Lake Champlain, has several web pages dedicated to it and has been featured on film by ABC news. Champ was spotted in 1609 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain, the lake's namesake, but local Native American tribes knew of Champ and called it "Tatoskok." In the early 1900's, P. T. Barnum offered a $50,000 reward for Champ, but was never required to pay up. Champ is apparently still alive and well; echolocation attributed to Champ was recorded in the lake in 2003, and Champ appeared on video for fishermen Dick Affolter and Pete Bodette in the summer of 2005. Like Nessie, Champ is suspected of being a plesiosaur, with a horse-like head, a long neck, and an oval body with flippers.


Reconstruction of the Jim Reiger Ogopogo sighting from Wikipedia.

Lake Okanagan, in Canada, is home to Ogopogo, a creature reported to be only 1 - 2 feet in diameter but 15 - 20 feet long. Ogopogo has been around a long time, even longer than Nessie according to some. The Vancouver Sun wrote about Ogopogo in 1926, and sightings reports date back to 1872. There have been over 200 sightings of Ogopogo, many by reputable people such as priests, doctors, and police officers. In September of 1926, over 30 cars were stopped at Mission Beach watching Ogopogo; it may be the largest collective sighting of any lake monster.

In 1990, Ogopogo was depicted on a Canadian postage stamp.

Canadian Stamp

Mokele Mbembe, although not precisely a lake monster since it is said to live in the rivers of the Congo basin, is usually grouped with them in cryptozoology. Mokele Mbembe is often described as looking like a Sauropod dinosaur, while others say it looks more like an elephant or a rhinoceros. Between 1992 and 2001, at least four expeditions went looking for Mokele Mbembe but found nothing conclusive. Still, Mokele Mbembe has been around since 1776 when a French priest wrote about seeing its footprints, which were "about three feet in circumference." The "stopper of rivers" was more recently seen by natives who reported their encounter to the Milt Marcy expedition in January of 2006.

The Surgeon's Photo

The Surgeon's Photo

The Loch Ness monster, Nessie, is a huge tourist attraction and has starred in several movies in spite of the fact that mainstream scientists and zoologists aren't convinced she exists. The Surgeon's Photo, once thought to be the best image of Nessie, was revealed to be a hoax in 1994, but several other pictures of Nessie and a couple of video clips have not yet been conclusively debunked. Nessie is generally thought to be a plesiosaur, as she is usually said to have a long neck, small head, and an oval body with a tail. Unlike other lake monsters, Nessie has been sighted on land as well as in the lake, although most land sightings of Nessie are older. The most recent date from the 1960's and go back to the late 1800's. There are a few anomalous sightings, but most agree that Nessie is gray, has a long neck and short legs, and has a small head "like a camel's." Water sightings of Nessie date from 1871, and she continues to be spotted sporadically. Nessie has also been captured on sonar in the lake, and a large cavern dubbed "Nessie's Lair" which some speculate leads to a serious of underwater caves has been discovered using sonar.

Bessie, Selma, Lizzie, Oggie, Issie, and Cressie are just a few of the other lake monsters to have acquired nicknames, and many more are identified only by the name of the lake they inhabit. In fact, worldwide, over 250 lakes are said to be home to a monster, and the variety of lake monsters is stunning. Even Oklahoma has a lake monster: the Oklahoma Octopus, said to reside in three of Oklahoma's lakes and be "about the size of a horse, with multiple tentacles, small beady eyes, and reddish-brown leathery skin. There go my plans for swimming in Lake Oolagah!

Sources and Links:

American Monsters: Lake Monsters

The Legend of Nessie

Nessie and other Lake Monsters

Champ of Lake Champlain

Sea Serpents and Lake Monsters

Heike Ott
Ghostsamongus Journalist

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