Sasquatch Coffee

The Olsen Champ Video: A Year Later

Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 6th, 2010

[Part one is below; part two is here.]

A two-minute cellphone video of a “something” swimming in Lake Champlain was taken at sunrise on Sunday May 31, 2009, by Burlington resident Eric Olsen, 37. What is shown crossses the mouth of the small cove and beach area near Oakledge Park, Burlington, Vermont.

When the story broke early in June a year ago, it held great promise for telling us more about the Champ cryptids that appear to exist in Lake Champlain, a body of water that overlaps into Quebec and the states of New York and Vermont.

However, Eric Olsen was not interested in being involved with the media circus, and all news attention disappeared. But that does not mean we should shelf the investigation.

Olsen Champ Video

Click on image for full size version.

This is extremely interesting footage, worthy of serious cryptozoological study, as an unknown, a “lake cryptid.” After all, we still have no clear understanding of what this was.

The following stabilized version of the Eric Olsen-obtained video was produced by John Donald Carlucci of Darke Media.

A year ago, ABC News quoted me thusly:

“If this pans out, this will be the most convincing moving picture of this creature,” said Loren Coleman, a leading cryptozoologist and author of The Field Guide to Lake Monsters. “And that’s the kind of evidence we need to get closer to what these things really are.”

But, due to Olsen being unavailable, what is the present state of the study of this footage? Why drop further examinations? What do you think it shows?

Brought to Cryptomundo’s attention via “boyinthemachine,” from Jason Ficks of West Coast Sasquatch, here are a few stills of this May 31, 2009, “Champ video”:

Olsen Champ Video

Click on image for full size version.

Olsen Champ Video

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Olsen Champ Video

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Sandra Mansi took this image in 1977 on the shores of Lake Champlain.

Olsen Champ Video

Click on image for full size version.

Bernard Heuvelmans’ Super-Otter (above) compared to images from Eric Olsen’s new footage (above the Super-Otter and below).

Olsen Champ Video

Click on image for full size version.

See also, Part Two, for further enhancements and measurements.

Loren Coleman – has written 5491 posts on this site.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.

19 Responses to “The Olsen Champ Video: A Year Later”

  1. RocKiteman responds:

    One comment: I watched the video on its’ YouTube page in “full screen mode”. It looks like the image is {pixelated?} around the subject in the video. Maybe that’s just a product of watching a video on YT. Or is it something else?

    My two cents. ‘Nuff said.

    -Allan, aka RocKiteman, aka Kite-Squatch

  2. shellsnscales responds:

    Im thinking a female moose or a deer…

  3. Benjamin Radford responds:

    I actually discuss this video in my new book “Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries.” On pages 80/81 I highlight the fact that Mr. Olsen gave inaccurate information about why he stopped filming this creature just as it approached land. (A suspicious fact, since if it was a known animal it would likely have been recognized once it climbed out of the water.) Olsen claimed, and MEC Loren reported, that he stopped because he didn’t know how much recording time he had on his cell phone camera, and wanted to stop before it recorded over his earlier footage.

    However, this “explanation” explains nothing: that’s not how cell phone cameras work! They do not record over earlier footage, they simply stop recording. Thus there is no reason Olsen would or should have stopped recording just as the animal reaches the shore– unless perhaps there’s some reason he didn’t want viewers to see what emerged from the water (perhaps a moose or elk?). This does not of course prove a hoax, but it does raise some unanswered questions about Olsen’s footage because parts of his story don’t hold water.

  4. Loren Coleman responds:

    I must point out to My Esteemed Colleague Benjamin Radford that he is assuming that the individual under discussion would have the some refined level of knowledge about cellphone videocameras that he does. Mr. Olsen could have understood his conception of what occurs with cam memories was true and then reacted/behaved due to his assumptions about that information.

    Indeed, in several early cellphones, there is a memory limit to images. Mr. Olsen may have, in the unusual circumstances of seeing/digitally recording an unusual animal, thought he would lose everything he previously recorded – and acted accordingly.

    To, in essence, call Mr. Olsen a liar seems harsh, to the extreme.

  5. CoffeeKitsune responds:

    I know so many people- adults- who are generally clueless about technology. I have a pretty good understanding on how electronics work, and it can be frustrating at times trying to explain to adults what may seem like common sense to me. Seemingly simple concepts like how a digital camera memory card works, or why you don’t have to rewind a DVD, etc. So just because a person may have a device, and know how to use the basics of it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they know everything about how it works. It is very possible that someone may know how tom press their ‘record’ button, but not know exactly how it works aside from that.

  6. Benjamin Radford responds:

    I appreciate the comments by My Esteemed Colleague Loren regarding the circumstances of this video. I am happy to clarify my comments.

    Firstly, I completely agree that Mr. Olsen may have acted under the best of intentions, and may have truly believed that his cellphone videocamera would somehow erase earlier footage if his memory ran out (even though it is apparently technically impossible and has never happened).

    I do not even own a cellphone camera, so I would expect that Olsen, who has owned and used one for years, would in fact have a much better idea of the limits and capabilities of his cellphone camera than a person who has never used one. I began some inquiries after reading MEC Loren’s piece on this topic in TAPS Paramagazine, and I asked over a dozen cell phone owners (as well as a tech expert), all of whom told me that Olsen’s understanding of his cell phone is completely wrong.

    To be clear, I am not calling Mr. Olsen a liar. I am merely pointing out two things: 1) The fact that the video stops abruptly just a few seconds before the animal would be approaching the shore is suspicious; and 2) The reason that Olsen gave for why he stopped recording is simply not true (whether he believed it was true or not). These are fair and legitimate issues to raise and look into. If the answer is simply that Mr. Olsen didn’t know how his cell phone camera worked, then that should be acknowledged and made explicit.

    At the very least perhaps this discussion will help future eyewitnesses get better evidence. Mr. Olsen and others who happen to record any unusual animals should be informed that they should continue recording until the mystery beast is out of sight, as there is no danger in the earlier footage being accidentally erased.

  7. Cryptidcrazy responds:

    I always thought this video was either of a seal, otter or even a beaver. My opinion hasn’t changed. As a person who definitely believes in lake cryptids (particularily in Lake Okanagan), I cannot explain the Sandra Mansi photo. It appears to be the “real deal”. I just find it hard to believe, an unknown creature of that size can be swimming around one of the most heavily traveled lakes in the United States. Lake Champlain is one of the busiest lakes in the country. On any given weekend, the place is loaded with boat traffic. How could such a creature go unnoticed? I’d understand, if it wasn’t such a busy lake.

  8. Benjamin Radford responds:

    >> I cannot explain the Sandra Mansi photo. It appears to be the “real deal”.

    I have 20 pages of detailed analysis on Mansi’s photo (pp. 43-63) in my book Lake Monster Mysteries, I think it will offer some good explanations. If you have any unanswered questions after reading the chapter, feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to clear them up. Or, if you think my analysis is wrong, I’m happy to hear why.

  9. Loren Coleman responds:

    In essence, MEC Radford feels the Mansi photo is of a tree trunk. I do not mean to summarize 20 pages down to merely two words, but that’s it. After, MEC Radford has been able to use the comments here of my blog to note two of his books, so the least I can do for those who can’t afford them, and yet would like to debate his theory, is to mention it.


  10. Benjamin Radford responds:

    >>the least I can do for those who can’t afford them, and yet would like to debate his theory, is to mention it.

    Much appreciated, MEC Loren, I overlooked that. My solution to Mansi’s photo is certainly no secret, as I have explained it repeatedly on TV and in articles for Fortean Times, the Skeptical Inquirer, and elsewhere. Much of the basic explanation is available for free on the Web with a minute or two of savvy Google searching; no need to buy my book unless readers want the complete, detailed explanation.

  11. LanceFoster responds:

    IMHO, a hoax, not even an honest error/blobsquatch. I still see a water-eroded tree trunk, probably between 6-9 ft long, pulled along by means of heavy fishing line or light rope, from the point of land at the left towards the tree-line bank at right. Someone would have been stationed out of camera range to the right. It was previously naturally submerged so is somewhat water-saturated, and rises and turns when pulled, and sinks when the pulling stops, and rises when pulled again. People who have been fishing, and caught their hook on a snag have seen submerged wood of various sizes act this way before.

  12. wuffing responds:

    LanceFoster wrote ” I still see a water-eroded tree trunk, probably between 6-9 ft long, pulled along by means of heavy fishing line or light rope, from the point of land at the left towards the tree-line bank at right.”

    The obvious objection to this scenario is that there is nowhere to launch the “tree-trunk” from as the photographer is at the end of the promontory and the object is 177 ft (my calcs) further out. There is no “point of land on the left”. A boat would have been needed or, my own preferred solution, a scuba diver propelling the object from behind and below. Either way, I do not think this video shows any kind of wild animal, but I was interested in trying to gauge its size as a math exercise. W

  13. charlie23 responds:

    Geriatric bather carrying hammer, possibly with mange?

  14. CoffeeKitsune responds:

    Not sure if it means anything or not, but rewatching the video I noticed a couple of times where behind the creature it looked almost like the end of could would be its tail poking out of the water. I think it was around 1:30 – 1:32 and 1:40 – 1:42 that I saw it. A little behind the mystery creature/object’s back, a small black tip appears and disappears quickly.

    Also, I personally do not think Moose or Deer. It’s possible, but even with how poor the quality is, the shape of the head doesn’t seem to be long enough, nor are there large ears visible. The head and face look very rounded and blunt rather than elongated like a deeer, moose, or similar ungulate. It almost looks like there can possibly be small rounded ears though? So hard to tell!

  15. n8dogg79 responds:

    Definitely not a deer or moose. Has anyone else noticed the closeup of the head bears a striking resemblance to a photo that used to appear on Dennis Jay Hall’s Champquest website?

  16. Leslie responds:

    As we all have seen before, any photographic or video evidence of anything unproven will eventually be classified as a hoax or misidentified. Especially when the images are unclear and dodgy. Even if you could get pictures that are crystal clear, some would call it “photoshopped”. The only way to prove that something exists is to capture it, dead or alive. I’m not claiming that the video is a hoax or not. I’m just saying that some people need more than pictures and videos as evidence. The thing that would sucks is that, if that creature is real and the only survivor of its kind, it’ll probably be killed or die in captivity and eventually dissected all in the name of science.

  17. WALL responds:

    I would love to believe this is an authentic head and neck video of a “Lake Monster”, the problem I have with it is the fact that it almost seems to be nonchalant in the way it is being filmed. I know I would be running in the direction it swam or at least attempting to following it and I most definitely would have filmed this object until out of view. My first thoughts were that it was either deer or a moose. It’s still great to have these debates about what is on film.

  18. sonofthedestroyer responds:

    Ben Radford!

    Man who makes all kinds of twisted out of common sense explanations instead of dealing with what is obvious.

    Your colleague Joe Nickell is no better. Made a fool of himself several times on MonsterQuest episodes.

    You dismissed Mansi photo as a tree trunk/roots which is harder to believe than it being a real creature. Of course you need many pages to explain it as it is so ridiculous.

    The way you addressed this latest Champlain incident was no surprise.

    We see something very odd and you berate people for ‘wanting to see a monster’. You told us it was a Moose right? If my memory serves me right? Even though it does not look like a moose. Especially when you see its tail come out some distance behind its body and the effortless way it moves and stops and moves again in the water. Something a land dwelling creature like a moose would not manage to do.

    But we are crazy and ‘wanting to a see monster’. You of course the big ‘rational man’.

  19. sonofthedestroyer responds:

    Ben Radford also says that Olsen is lying about using the video function on the cellphone.

    I say Ben Radford is a liar because his face appears very red when it appears on TV.

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