Ogopogo: Canada’s Loch Ness Monster

Loch Ness in Scotland may be famous when it comes to lake monsters, but for many monster researchers (often dubbed cryptozoologists), Ogopogo – a creature believed to be hiding in Lake Okanagan in Canada – is the most likely and the best documented of all lake monsters.

For cryptozoologists like John Kirk of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, “Ogopogo’s catalog of films and videos is more numerous and of better quality than anything I have personally seen at Loch Ness and I think more than between them are very convincing that a great living and unknown creature inhabits the lake. “

The first Indian legends

There are dozens of famous lake monsters around the world, but what makes Ogopogo particularly interesting is his previous incarnation, according to legend, as a bloodthirsty killer. Ogopogo, some believe, has its roots in native Canadian Indian legends of a beast called N’ha-a-itk (also spelled Naitaka) that would require a living sacrifice from travelers for safe passage through Lake Okanagan. Hundreds of years ago, whenever Indians ventured into the lake, they would bring chickens or other small animals to kill and throw in the water to ensure a safe trip.

It is clear, however, that these stories did not refer to a literal lake monster like Ogopogo, but rather a legendary aquatic spirit. Although the supernatural N’ha-a-itk of the Okanagan Valley Indians is long gone, a decidedly less fearsome – and more biological – beast, whose exact form is a matter of debate, has replaced it. .

The ogopogo is often described as dark and multi-humped, with green, black, brown, or gray skin. The head is said to resemble that of a snake, a sheep, a horse, a seal or even an alligator. Some eyewitnesses say he has ears or horns; others don’t. Many observations simply describe an unremarkable “journal” that has come to life.

Timber is an important industry in the region. There are hundreds of logs floating in Okanagan Lake. (Image credit: Benjamin Radford.)

Modern research and observations

Okanagan Lake is located in British Columbia, approximately 250 miles (400 kilometers) east of Vancouver. The lake is 135 km long and 4 and 5 km wide, with an average depth of 76 m (249 feet). The lake has been searched several times, the most in depth during a 1991 expedition that searched for the monster with high-tech devices, including a remote control vehicle and a miniature submarine. The pilot took the vehicle to a depth of 840 feet along the bottom of the lake in the deepest part of the lake, but no Ogopogo were seen, and the submarine did not discover any of the carcasses or bones of creatures.

The best cinematic evidence of Ogopogo is around a minute of footage shot in 1968 by a man named Arthur Folden. Folden noticed “something big and realistic” in the distance over the calm water and pulled out his camera to capture the object. A survey I designed and conducted with John Kirk for the TV show “Is It Real?” From the National Geographic Channel? in 2005 revealed that the object filmed by Folden was indeed a real animal but that its size had been greatly overestimated. It was probably a waterfowl or beaver too far away to identify, but still leaving an impressive wake in the calm water.

What do eyewitnesses see? As with all lake monsters, there isn’t a specific explanation that explains all of the sightings. Some animals may be mistaken for a strange creature when seen on or near the surface of water. If Ogopogo is real and exists, what is it? The explanations range from plausible (manatee, sturgeon or rower) to exotic (a dinosaur or a type of prehistoric whale called the zeuglodon).

Many sightings of the lake monster may not involve any living thing. The geological features of Okanagan Lake create unusual long waves that can look exactly like the monster, right down to Ogopogo’s signature series of bumps. In other cases, observing a moving bump in water is not an aquatic optical illusion, but rather something almost as mundane: floating logs. This is easy to dismiss until you actually examine dozens of sighting reports and read what eyewitnesses describe as a straight, featureless “newspaper” that seemed to float in the waves.

A photo from Richard Huls’ video in 2011, which he says shows Ogopogo, the Canadian Loch Ness Monster. (Image credit: chbcnews / YouTube.com)

A man visiting Okanagan Lake in 2011 claimed to have captured a video of Ogopogo. According to an article in the Vancouver Sun, “Richard Huls says he always believed in the possibility that the monster would live in Lake Okanagan. Last Thursday, while visiting a vineyard in West Kelowna, Huls shot a video which, he says, proves that something does indeed do “That was wrong with the waves,” Huls said. “It obviously wasn’t a wave, just a darker color. The size and the fact that they weren’t parallel to the waves made me think it had to be something else. “

The video quality is poor and the camera shakes, but a closer look at the 30-second video reveals that instead of one long object, there are actually two shorter ones, and they appear to be floating around. one next to the other at a slightly different pace. angles. There are no bumps, no head, no shape; only two long, dark, more or less straight shapes that seem to be a few tens of feet long. In short, they look a lot like floating logs, which wouldn’t be surprising since Okanagan Lake has tens of thousands of logs harvested by the driftwood industry just below the lake’s surface.

Ogopogo may or may not exist in Okanagan Lake, but it can certainly be found if you look; tourist shops along the lake sell many Ogopogo-themed hats, t-shirts, mugs and plush toys.

Benjamin Radford is associate editor of science magazine Skeptical Inquirer and author of six books, including “Lake Monster Mysteries: Investigating the World’s Most Elusive Creatures”. Its website is www.Benjamin Radford.com.

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