Location: Lake Okanagan, Canada
Type: Lake Serpent
Evidence: several videos and photographs
Possible Population size: There seems to be a sizeable breeding population.
In 1890, Captain Thomas Shorts was at the wheel of this steam boat when he saw a finned creature about sixteen feet long, with a head like a ram, swimming in the waters of Lake Okanagan. Upon turning the boat in the direction of the creature it disappeared below the surface, Captain Shorts is met with ridicule and disbelief upon reporting the sighting. Soon, other reports followed, at least 2 or 3 a year and have increased so much so that today the local population firmly believes in the existence of Ogopogo.
The name, Ogopogo is derived from a British folk song composed by W.H. Brimblecombe. Brimblecombe, sang his song for the members of his British Columbia Rotarian Club, but gave it a local twist based on the now famous creature dwelling in Lake Okanagan. The next day the Vancouver Daily Province, declared Ogopogo to be the official name of the "Famous Okanagan Sea Serpent," and the name stuck. That same year proved to be a busy year for Ogopogo, throughout the summer and into the fall reported sightings of the creature became more common. In November Ogopogo was spotted by no less than 60 people attending a baptism on the lake.
In 1914, on the banks of Rattlesnake Island, a group of Indians stumbled upon a carcass which some researchers believe was that of a juvenile Ogopogo. The carcass was estimated to be between 5 and 6 feet in length and weighted upwards of 400 pounds. The epidermis of the creature was described as being bluish grey in color and had a tail fin as well as 4 distinct flippers. The natives brought the corpse to local naturalist who lived near by who, after studying the corpse, came to the conclusion that the carcass was that of a rogue manatee, however, neither the natives or the naturalist where able to explain how a manatee might have come to live, much less die, on the shores of Okanagan.
In July 1949, a group of people on a party boat saw what they claimed to be Ogopogo at a distance of about 100 feet. The creature was partially submerged with its head under water; it had a forked horizontal tail, characteristic of whales but moved in an undulating motion much like a snake. The portion of the body that was exposed measured an estimated 30 feet in length with smooth dark skin as is common with most sightings of its kind. When the movie camera became popular and more affordable to the general public it seemed only a matter of time before the creature was caught on film and in 1968 it would appear that is exactly what happened. A saw mill worker named Art Folden from Case, British Columbia, using his 8 mm movie camera, captured what is believed by some to be the first motion picture evidence of Ogopogo. Mr. Folden was originally reluctant to make the film public for fear of ridicule, however he showed it over and over again to family and friends for almost two years before his brother in law convinced him to turn it over for investigation, unfortunately by that time the film was not in very good shape and difficult to make out.
According to Mr. Folden, he and his wife where driving home from a day on the lake when he noticed something odd in the water near the shore. Jokingly he told his wife that it was Ogopogo, but when she looked she thought that it was just a bunch of ducks. It was fairly late in the afternoon but Folden decided to stop and film the object anyway. Since he was almost out of film he would stop shooting when the object would go under water and begin shooting again as it came to the surface. The film shows a large dark object disappearing and reappearing in a sequence of moves that indicated it was moving out to deeper water. Using the pine trees on the shore which where approximately 25 feet tall, the dark mass in Foldens footage was estimated to be roughly 65 feet in length and 3 feet in diameter. Skeptics blew off the film saying that the object looked like a large wake, theorizing that a passing boat stirred the water enough to send the wake shoreward. Closer examination of the footage partially dispelled the wake theory, what could have been a mistaken wake could also have been mistaken for the tip of fin from a gigantic creature moving just below the surface of the water.
In 1980, ten years after Foldens film was taken, a group of vacationers thought that they sighting Ogopogo. One of the men, Larry Thal, had a home movie camera and managed to capture some intriguing footage of the creature. "Larry's film showed how the animal swims and the massive waves that it creates," said Arlene Gaal, a researcher and author who has been investigating Ogopogo since 1968 and who has records on file of more than 200 sightings, including the Folden film. "It actually showed that it has some form of appendage that seems to pop up every now and then. But the interesting thing is that the animal Art Folden shot and the animal Larry Thal shot are basically the same size. They are very large creatures. In Larry's film we're seeing a creature at least forty to sixty feet from head to tail."
It is possible that there are several creatures of varying size living with in the lake, all belonging to the same unknown zoological family. Researchers agree that for an animal to exist there must be a sizable breeding population. It is also possible that there are several creatures of varying size belonging to different zoological families living in the lake; this would explain some of the different eye witness testimonials. While experts may disagree on the Chaplin footage, there remains no adequate explanation for the large object seen surfacing in Art Foldens film or the object which clearly turns up a large wake in Larry Thals footage. Add to these films the hundreds of other sightings reported over the years and you have something of a mystery living in Lake Okanagan.
Since the lake is connected to the Pacific Ocean by the Columbia River, there is speculation as water levels rose due to the melting ice from the last Ice Age; the creatures swam up the river and into the lake to feed on the lush vegetation in the newly formed valley. As the water receded the creatures became trapped in the lake evolving over the millennia to fresh water living. Researchers to this day are trying to figure out what Ogopogo might be; the majority of reports claim the creature to be serpentine, elongated to about forty to sixty feet in length. The skin has been described as dark green to green-black with other colors ranging from gray, blue-black, and brown, to brown-black. All sightings claim the skin is smooth and appears to be free of scales, hair, or fur, with the possible exception of the head which might exhibit sparse hairs or a mane directly at the back of the neck, which may link the creature to the English water horse, Kelpie. There are some who suggest that Ogopogo may be a plesiosaur, a long necked water reptile of the Mesozoic era, presumed extinct for more than 70 million years. Some Researchers believe that Ogopogo, because of its large vertically undulating motion and descriptions of a whale like tail, could be a Zeuglodon, a primitive tooth whale thought to have died out over 25 million years ago.
So what is Ogopogo and does it really exist, eye witness reports all describe a creature bearing no resemblance to any known species. The few photographic images we have are all too fuzzy to clearly make out and to easily dismissed as a hoax. It would seem that modern science will first need a body or live specimen to determine the true nature of the creature. However this two may prove impossible as the Canadian government is taking no chances of Ogopogo being harmed. It has declared the creature an endangered species and hunting it is against the law. The people who live on Lake Okanagan need no further proof and have constructed a life-sized model of the creature, which is the center piece of the areas annual festival called, Ogopogo Days, For them, Ogopogo is alive and well.
Cryptid Files: [link]