Bracing For Disappointment

Posted by: John Kirk on May 22nd, 2006

My friend and Cryptomundo colleague, Loren Coleman, stated on these pages that there is the prospect that Malaysian biologist Vincent Chow has been able to procure several photographs of the alleged Malyasian Bigfoot, the Orang Dalam or as it is known in this case, Mawas. I want to be excited about this, but given the flops as far as earthshaking cryptid footage and photos of the past are concerned, I do not have much faith that they will be as revealing as one would hope.

Seventeen years ago, the news leaked out that a car salesman from Kamloops had videotaped the legendary Ogopogo of Okanagan Lake in all of its glory. This video footage was alleged to be the best footage of the creature ever obtained and it would put to bed, once and for all, the issue of whether Ogopogo exists. The car salesman was reluctant to allow myself and Jim Clark from the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club (BCSCC) to examine his footage. This sent up the red flags right away in my mind. Clark and I had both seen this creature and we were as qualified as any other witnesses to give our opinion on it. Jim was actually banned from a press conference where the footage was shown to the media.

I was contacted on the phone by a journalist who had seen the footage and she told me it was definitely an animal. I asked for more details and something she related to me in that conversation told me that the car salesman had not videotaped Ogopogo. She told me how the creature very quickly lifted its tail out of the water and then slapped the lake surface. I asked just how fast the slap was, she again emphasized it was very quick. Given that the car salesman said his creature was in the order of 12 – 15 feet long, it would be impossible for a beast that big to slap its tail very quickly as the reporter had described. In that moment, my brain said three words: beaver, river otter.

The journalist said it also had webbed feet. Again, my brain went: beaver, river otter. I heard about this footage in August, but it was not until October that I finally got to see the footage on Unsolved Mysteries. News of this footage had gotten out to the public and some people were positively salivating at the prospect of seeing the best footage of Ogopogo ever. One eminent researcher who had seen the footage said it was a “Rembrandt” compared to all the other footage shot before this.

My belief that the creature was a beaver or river otter was confirmed when I saw the footage. My initial belief that a 12 – 15 foot creature could not have executed the tail slap in such a short time was confirmed when I saw with my own eyes the animal do it on screen. Robert Lincoln, a British Columbia wildlife expert said on the program that he was pretty sure it was a beaver with an outside chance it could be an otter. As Joe Nickell and Ben Radford say in their newly released book Lake Monster Mysteries, this is the most expensive beaver footage ever as Unsolved Mysteries is rumoured to have paid the car salesman $30,000 for the privilege of showing it on their program. Ouch!

Then last year the Sasquatch/Bigfoot world was abuzz with the news that Norway House, Manitoba resident Bobby Clarke had secured the best ever footage of a sasquatch. It was said to be even better than the other seminal footage of a sasquatch – the Patterson-Gimlin film of 1967.

Having been through the whole ‘this-is-the-best-footage-yet’ business with the car salesman Ogopogo video I did not wait with baited breath as some of my fellow sasquatch investigators did to see this footage on A Current Affair on the Fox network. I was braced for disappointment and Clarke’s footage did not fail me.

I would say it is the best “Blobsquatch” video ever. It’s just a hazy dark figure walking by water. There is no scale, no sharp focus and nothing remotely to suggest it is a sasquatch at all other than Clarke’s word. Clarke seems a decent enough guy and he may have seen a sasquatch, but unfortunately there is nothing in his video to confirm that. I don’t know how much A Current Affair paid for Clarke’s footage, but noted sasquatch investigator Daniel Perez spoke to a lawyer with the network and the figure given was $5,000. That makes Clarke’s video the most expensive Blobsquatch video of all time so far.

I guess I have been somewhat immunized against the prospect that the Malaysian Bigfoot photos Vincent Chow intends to publish are going to be the Real McCoy. The disappointments of the past have just reinforced my tendency to not to get excited about any pictures or footage that are supposed to be that good.

I suppose I will do what Ray Crowe, founder of the International Bigfoot Society, has always cautioned people to do that and that is to “keep your skepticals on.”  I will certainly be keeping mine on and will make sure that mine won’t have a rose-coloured tint to them.

You can bet I won’t be disappointed. I will not allow myself to be.

John Kirk About John Kirk
One of the founders of the BCSCC, John Kirk has enjoyed a varied and exciting career path. Both a print and broadcast journalist, John Kirk has in recent years been at the forefront of much of the BCSCC’s expeditions, investigations and publishing. John has been particularly interested in the phenomenon of unknown aquatic cryptids around the world and is the author of In the Domain of the Lake Monsters (Key Porter Books, 1998). In addition to his interest in freshwater cryptids, John has been keenly interested in investigating the possible existence of sasquatch and other bipedal hominids of the world, and in particular, the Yeren of China. John is also chairman of the Crypto Safari organization, which specializes in sending teams of investigators to remote parts of the world to search for animals as yet unidentified by science. John travelled with a Crypto Safari team to Cameroon and northern Republic of Congo to interview witnesses among the Baka pygmies and Bantu bushmen who have sighted a large unknown animal that bears more than a superficial resemblance to a dinosaur. Since 1996, John Kirk has been editor and publisher of the BCSCC Quarterly which is the flagship publication of the BCSCC. In demand at conferences, seminars, lectures and on television and radio programs, John has spoken all over North America and has appeared in programs on NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, TLC, Discovery, CBC, CTV and the BBC. In his personal life John spends much time studying the histories of Scottish Clans and is himself the president of the Clan Kirk Society. John is also an avid soccer enthusiast and player.

25 Responses to “Bracing For Disappointment”

  1. Tabitca responds:

    John what a woebegone little soul you sound today. Pats john on back and gives him a hug.Here have a lollipop.
    So what if the photos turn out to be known apes.It’s one more thing to cross of the list of things you can prove are there. You have to have hope.
    I’ve just spent a wet Sunday afternnon in the local canal because some children said they saw a crocodile. I got my foot caught in a discarded wire basket, spat at by a swan and on my backside in the mud.It was probably a pike.But it doesn’t mean that I won’t go and look again if someone else sights something.I spent 8 months by Loch Ness and ended up with bronchitis but no photos…I still went back again.
    One day someone will produce something wonderful that will blow all our socks off..I only hope I am still around to see it.In the meantime is there an award for the clumsiest amateur cryptozoologist(Yes I fell in the Loch as well, twice) 🙂

  2. Ranatemporaria responds:

    In Your personal opinion John what would be the best course of action if these pictures turn out to be a similar story to those above? I mean, im sure they will sell books anyway, however I think many will feel cheated if the photos are anything but special or the “best ever”. Unfortunatly there will be no way of knowing if this is the case prior to its publication.

  3. dewhurst responds:

    I always find myself in a funny sitiuation when waiting to see ‘the definative footage/photos etc’-I kind of know in the back of my mind that i will be disapointed-yet I can’t seem to help myself from getting excited.I do hope Im not in for another fall!

  4. akbens responds:

    The enormous red flag of having to wait for a book to be published to see them is what I’m skeptical over. If they are as good as this guy says they are they should be free for the world to see. The scientific value of them is priceless if they are genuine.

  5. mark responds:

    Allow me to change topic! Another “living fossil” found: what a ridiculous paradoxical term that only shows how closed scientific minds are (but not you, Mark Hall).

    Never surrender! You might find.

  6. lamarkable responds:

    Your thoughtful commentary elicted an immediate reaction from this reader. I was struck by it’s honesty.
    If anything in life could be substantiated by a photograph, it would be a one dimensional experience, missing all that makes life interesting.
    Someone once asked a Sufi Shiek what he thought the UFO phenomenon meant. He said simply, “To create wonder.”
    Skepticism is like the string that keeps the balloon anchored. Wonder and curiousity, thankfully are not dependant on proofs.

  7. jayman responds:

    For me, the big letdown last year was not the Manitoba footage or the Sonoma hoax, but that guy who claimed on his website that he had footage of an injured bigfoot in captivity. As soon as he didn’t produce on the promised date, I knew there was nothing to it – I think he claimed later he’d been “duped”. It is always very suspicious when the claimed evidence can not or will not be produced immediately for examination.

  8. vjmurphy responds:

    Perhaps some of the disappointment could be softened somewhat by not hyping what’s obviously a marginal story for so long?

  9. LordofShades responds:

    Photos are hard enough to come by as it is, and in this digital era. photos and video can be airbrushed, reformatted, filtered, magnified, and most importantly, hoaxed. One thing I’ve learned about cryptozoology is that people will exploit anything someone else wants to believe in. I just keep hoping, regardless of the let-downs of the past. as Tabitca said, one of these days, someone is going to produce something wonderful. It may be awhile, but I trust that it will happen.

  10. Loren Coleman responds:

    Please see my reaction to this in:

    Cryptozoology Is Not About Faith

  11. DWA responds:

    All I can say — and I guess I have — is this:

    1. Don’t get your hopes up.

    2. Don’t be a cynic either. (A grain of skepticism always helps. But cynics don’t generally impress me with their intelligence, any more than suckers do.)

    3. Getting good photos of something truly wild is very tough, and is generally about time and money. And more of same than most crypto researchers can reasonably contribute. What makes Patterson so, well, remarkable in the field is that he gave himself ample time….and just barely enough money.

    To say nothing of luck. Forgot that.

  12. Benjamin Radford responds:

    How strange that most of the “best” photos and videos of the big cryptids is so old! The P/G Bigfoot film: 1967. Mansi’s Champ photo: 1977. Folden’s Ogopogo film: 1960s. Sure, we have occasional “new” footage (like the fishermen’s Champ segment last summer), but it seems odd that with good quality cameras cheaper and more plentiful than ever before, the photos and films don’t seem to get much better. I have yet to hear anyone give me a good explanation why.

  13. DWA responds:

    Benjamin: I think I gave you the good explanation.

    Time and money. A lot of the former, and enough of the latter. It’s not the equipment, as Patterson and Gimlin could tell you. (I think my dad had a better movie camera than Patterson. And my dad was far from a pro.)

    Oh. And luck. Quite a bit of that.

    Can’t speak for Champ and ‘pogo. But no one has scoured the countryside — ever, for a sustained period, on horseback, thus allowing them to cover truly extensive ground where vehicles couldn’t go — like Patterson and Gimlin did in ’67. No one has duplicated their sheer effort. Even then the odds were against them. But they gave themselves history’s best chance, and the odds gave them a break. (People tend to forget, or not even to know, that that was a Bigfoot expedition, not just two guys in the woods. They knew where to go for the best odds, slim though those were. They went out there to get that film; it wasn’t sheer chance.)

    Camera traps may take us where Patterson and Gimlin couldn’t. Which is still: money.

    And time.

    LOTS of it.

    And luck.

    Funny note. I’m on the computer yesterday and the kids are on Discovery Network, watching “Truth or Scare?,” which is a kid show about The Unexplained. I hear the neighing of a horse on the TV, and something in me says: Patterson! I run downstairs…and for the very first time, see the Patterson film. (I had previously only seen stills and website motion tricks with stills.) They started with a very — VERY — bad re-creation. Which only served to set the Real Thing off so much the better for what it (I think) was.

    It will never, I don’t think, get any clearer than Patterson. Not with a critter like this one it won’t.

    But if it gets better — or as good — mark my words: Time. Money. Luck.

    Which is the practical way to say: patience and passion. 😉

  14. jayman responds:

    I went and read Loren’s reply to this blog and it’s a good counterpoint. But I’m still concerned about the emotional capital being invested in Johor.

  15. jjames2 responds:

    Jayman: I agree with you re: the “emotional capital,” as you call it. I’ve been one of the most cynical/skeptical voices on here regarding the Mawas photos, mainly due to the seemingly unjustified hype at this early stage of the game. It’s a dangerous game to play, making promises that you might not be able to live up to. I think that, regardless of what’s in the photos, our expectations have been raised too high for us ever to be satisfied.

  16. peterbernard responds:

    This post, jjames, and jayman all speak for me.

  17. sasquatch responds:

    Keep your camera loaded and full of fresh batteries. I think the camera/binoculars you can buy now might be a winning situation- Imagine you see something move down a ravine AND YOU PULL UP YOUR BINOCULARS/DIGITAL CAMERA, there! AS SOON AS IT’S IN YOUR VIEW -CLICK, CLICK ,CLICK. It quickly moves behind some boulders and brush, but you’ve got the goods!

  18. Robert Galo responds:


    Given that there is a lot of hype, in addition to government involvement with the discovery of the Mawas, isn’t it just possible that Vincent Chow’s photographs are just undergoing the proper hoops and loops before being published? Most papers and footage/photos for a new discovery, like that of our cryptozoological ocean friend the Giant Squid, take well over a year to be prepared – the footage the Japanese crew was taken in 2004, and yet they didn’t produce their evidence of a living Giant Squid until well into 2005.

    The only difference between this and the discovery of the Mawas, I see, is that the press got ahold of the story and have gone wild with the hype, while (I personally feel, anyway) the photos are still undergroing proper preperation for such an announcement.

    In the meantime, we do have the drawings – and if those are based on real photos and accounts as they claim, we’ll be in for the thrill of a scientific lifetime when the real deal is shown to us.

  19. jjames2 responds:

    Robert Galo: The problem with these drawings is that they’re not even first-hand drawings. Apparently, Vincent Chow has seen these pictures. He then told Peter Loh about them, and Peter made drawings based on Vincent’s descriptions.

    Quite frankly, I’m also still somewhat confused as to who actually has the photos. Originally, it was a “group” of people who had allegedly been protecting the Mawas for years. Then, the story became that a former guerilla had the photos in his possession, but had left the country.

  20. twblack responds:

    I agree with most here the photos that Mr. Chow has spoken about sure would be nice to get a look at but if we wait and they are what he claims then the wait was worth it.

  21. youcantryreachingme responds:

    jayman wrote (7) “It is always very suspicious when the claimed evidence can not or will not be produced immediately for examination.

    Anyone remember the German tourist who took the best ever photo of a (post-extinction) thylacine about a year and a half ago?

    Showed it to the experts in Tasmania who verified it as a thylacine, but noted that they couldn’t verify the authenticity of the digital image.

    He disappeared and speculation was rife that he was probably negotiating a deal with the media.

    Since then, zip. Nix. Nadda.

    And jjames2 (19) – you’re quite right; the story did change from one about a group of people caring for these critters for 11 years to an ex-militia who has since skipped the country in anticipation of harassment.

    The trick with a good con is to keep your mouth shut. Suggest, but don’t claim. Let your audience’s imagination take them where it will. But as time goes on and more of the story comes out, there is more scope for discrepancies like the one you highlight, and with that, doubts.

    To all those saying too much emotional investment (or capital) has gone into this, well as I wrote in previous comments – chill out! It’s only yourselves who are letting yourselves get hyped!

    Lastly, and probably to the detriment of cryptozoology, back to my issue of letting the audience lead itself; if you’re going to hoax a photo, make sure it’s just one, not more. Remember the recent sasquatch video which was online? As soon as the second piece of footage came out you were able to compare one with another and see the fraud.

    Back to the alleged thylacine photo by the German tourist – a single photo – much better for business if it’s a hoax – nothing to show that your “critter” can’t in fact move in the way that two photos would imply. Oh, and of if the thing’s for real, get as many da**** photos as you can!!!

  22. CryptoInformant responds:


    I laugh at your disillusionment, but still hope you GET WELL SOON.

    I was watching a show on Loch Ness, when a small, living thing darted across the screen of an underwater rope-cam, and it was definitely a crustacean with a tail… and claws. It appeared to be a eurypterid.

    Look and you will find.

  23. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    re #5
    My favorite quote from that article you posted the link to:
    ‘With the Coral Sea discovery, “the group is less completely extinct than was thought,” he said.’
    “Less completely extinct”?
    Either something is extinct, or it isn’t…
    Ah, I love hearing English speakers butcher their own language! I think it is one of my favorite things about the editing of cryptid books and articles.
    Humans are highly evolved indeed!

  24. Mnynames responds:

    A Eurypterid in Loch Ness? I’ve only ever heard of 2 other Sea Scorpion sightings, and the details were pretty vague. Even more suspicious, I encountered them on a creationist website (Their theory might be crap, but some of their “evidence” is pertinant to CZ, or at least entertaining). At least those sightings were in the ocean though…wait, according to Wikipedia most Sea Scorpions were freshwater. OK. Still, a Permian critter still scurrying around in a freshwater lake gouged out by glacial flows from the last ice age? On the face of it, I think I’d put more money on a living Plesiosaur, were it not for the fact that Eurypterid kin are pretty hardy.
    I work with Horseshoe Crabs, which have been around for at least 450 million years. The American Horseshoe Crab (Limulus polyphemus) hasn’t physically changed at all in over 30 million years. I recall reading something on an actual marine biologist who said he would not be at all surprised to find Eurypterids and Trilobites still alive on the ocean’s floor, and in fact thought it likely. Colour me suspicious, but intrigued…

    Cryptoinformant, care to inform us further?

  25. youcantryreachingme responds:

    I have to correct myself (21) – two photos were taken by the German tourists; I’d stated it was just one.

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