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Champ Video: First Weekend Update

Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 6th, 2009

Here are the latest developments in examining specific details of the Eric Olsen “Champ video,” which was captured less than a week ago, on Sunday, May 31, 2009. This is the first weekend update. “First” this weekend, and the “first” weekend since this animate object, which I will call “Champ” for ease of discussion, was taped.

One of the main questions has been about the exact location of this “Champ” sighting/taping.

Sam Hemingway’s first Burlington Free Press article summarized what information was generally known of the spot.

That published information said that the taping took place at “Lake Champlain near Oakledge Park in Burlington,” Vermont, “across the mouth of the small cove and beach area at the park.”

I asked Hemingway if he had any more exact information, as I was working with John Donald Carlucci of Darke Media on Google Earth mapping of the taping area.

Hemingway wrote back with this: “I was told by Eric that it was taken on [the] far side of the small beach/cove at Oakledge Park, where the rock juts out a bit into the water. He was at the edge of the rock looking north, northeast when he began filming.”

Carlucci took this information and placed a marker where he thought the alleged “Champ Sighting Site” apparently occurred on Lake Champlain. Carlucci was off, but his maps have served as the basis for correct information from Burlington as to the site of the taping.

So, looking at this site, here is what Google Earth shows (click to enlarge any of the images).

The creature was on the north, Burlington side of the spit, as indicated from the photo below (ignore the old red marker). My thanks to Burlington resident and Cryptomundo correspondent E. Shepard for this revision.

Carlucci also points to the following photograph taken about twenty minutes after sunrise, for a comparison shot, regarding the lighting.

The following shot by Carlucci is an overview with a tennis court in this shot with known dimensions (36 ft x 78 ft). The tennis court, to scale on the final image after the following, assists in showing the distance between the location of Olsen and the spot approximately where the animate object (“Champ”) was swimming.

The water is deep well into the cove (as seen here and noted by people familiar with the location).

On-site measurements need to occur.

These new photos to share are all by E. Shepard.

This first following winter photo is of the actual rock spit where Eric Olsen took the May 31, 2009 video.

The next two photos are from the proper orientation looking north, and buoys can be seen. Look closely and you can see a buoy beyond the sunbather that appears to be the one in the Olsen video.

The following stabilized version of the Eric Olsen-obtained video was produced by Carlucci of Darke Media. I consider it to a fundamental tool in studying the original data shown in the Olsen video.

Francis E. Murphy sends along the following two new contributions.

Murphy notes, concerning these: “I have been having a closer look at this video today and have put up an enhanced and slowed down clip from the last few seconds, showing what to me looks like a tail appearing behind the animal. The animal arches it’s back, and then as part of an undulatory movement the end of what looks like a tail appears shortly after. It could be a wake, admittedly, but I’m not so sure. Also, at one point the animal stretches out, showing more of its back and appearing much longer than any moose or deer.”

Impossible Visits also has forwarded a new enhanced video:

Here are I.V.’s two earlier ones.

+++++++
FLASHBACK MOMENT
Loren at 1981 Champ Conference

Loren Coleman at the 1981 conference on Champ; photo used in Does Champ Exist? Notes on the Historic Lake Monster Conference held in Shelburne, Vermont, 29 August 1981 by Gary S. Mangiacopra and Dwight G. Smith (Coachwhip Publications, 2007). See also my Champ chapter in Mysterious America.


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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.


34 Responses to “Champ Video: First Weekend Update”

  1. flame821 responds:

    I have to disagree with the location from what I’m seeing/reading. Mr. Olsen specifically mentions a small beach yet only one of those coves seems to have sand. And in the video it seems as though man-made (square-ish) structures can be seen.

    My gut instincts lead me to think it was the longer outcropping of rocks that he was standing on. It also appears the bottom drops off more sharply there, whereas the left hand cove has more of a ‘stepping’ geology. It makes me think that something of a fairly large size could come up awfully close to the shoreline.

    Although I have to say I am surprised at how clear the water actually is. I understand that Lake Champlain is quite deep, but what is its ecology like? (ie. food supplies for a larger aquatic life form) If this is a mammal I would think it was a migratory one, since a previous (earlier thread) poster noted that sightings pretty much end during fall and don’t start up again until Spring.

  2. johncarlucci responds:

    Facing Northeast on the larger outcropping of rocks would present a treeline as far as one could see.

    The video shows open water, then a flat embankment, and then trees. We also see a flat projection from the shore that fits with the dock in the smaller cove. There is no such projection in the larger cove. I also don’t believe the house/structure would be visible because of the darkness and the trees on the shoreline (the footage was shot at 5:30 AM, but I believe it was closer to 5 AM as sunrise was at 4:41 AM).

    I examined these shorelines in Google Earth and Google maps for hours with various elevations and such. I am confident in this cove based on information supplied by Loren. This is also the only cove in this park that fits with the sunrise and the directionality as stated by Olsen.

    The buoy could be present when these sat images were taken, but would be a small circle invisible in the resolution available. It might not even be an officially placed buoy and something left behind by a boater.

    I have inverted the footage for my own review and I do think this cryptid is longer than I originally thought. I am uncertain as to what it is, but it is something organic (in my belief). I do not believe it is a turtle any longer as it appears to be at least 45-50 feet from shore.

    JDC/Darke Media

  3. springheeledjack responds:

    And to go on with this, the deer theory just does not…wait for it…hold water…sorry, couldn’t resist…the shape of the head is all wrong, there are no ears and the neck/head combination are not right. When it enlongates near the end, it just does not behave like a land animal.

    And as for drowning or struggling, there is no evidence to suggest that either, in the movements of the animal (yes I said animal…the log theory is for Ben Radford…), or in its path across the waterway. IF something was really drowning or on the verge, it would take what it perceived as the closest path to shore…whether there were people there or not…I have watched plenty of animals come toward a person in order to find a better path for escape, and I seriously doubt a moose is going to be too afraid of a lone man with a phone camera–a moose can be downright grumpy when they want to be. And deer may shy away from people, but sooner or later the survival instinct will kick in and it will act to save itself.

    the stabilized video does clean up the footage and does a lot for what we are seeing, ruling out possibilities! Now if we can get some distance estimates we can start guess-timating size and all kinds of possibilities open up or close down.

  4. Imaginary Number One responds:

    First of all, just have to say that I am a long time reader of this site but a first time poster.
    Loren, I have all your books and read them regularly. Love ‘em.

    But on to “Champ”. I know nothing of this video other than it being a supposed sighting of Champ, but does it not look similar to the mystery creature we see in the Olsen video?

  5. LadyPhoenix responds:

    This is fascinating video, especially with the enhancements. I agree; looks too long to be a moose, and certainly not something like an otter or beaver. Hopefully, someone can do measurements, and we can get a better idea. Certainly looks worth the effort.

  6. mjmurphy responds:

    Obviously, nobody is towing a fake champ on the end of a rope, but how about a diver PUSHING it somehow? Could that explain the tail/wake?

    The head and body of this thing still seem to me to be suspiciously “blockish” for a real animal.

  7. swnoel responds:

    The individual, as I understand it, is using a cell phone to take the images.

    I’m not aware of any cell phone that has any ability to take quality videos at such distance.

    The pixalation that is occuring, is obscuring the actual image.

    Then again, as I’ve said before, if you want to see a monster, then you will.

    The truth is out there, unfortunately there are those, that chose to ignore the truth, maybe for financial gains.

    To believe that there is an undiscovered beast in this lake, is preposterous.

    That’s why there isn’t any proof to date, it’s certainly a local lore that provokes interest, that ultimately provide financial resource to the region.

    It might be fun, but there is no basis for reality.

    I’m sure my opinion won’t be received very well, but sometimes you have to be realistic.

  8. maeko responds:

    well, i don’t see a deer or moose or any other bovine. it looks like it could be rather long. i find the stoic nature of the head troubling. the body is safely above water then sinks as if a drop off has been reached. at times the body looks as if it moves up and down like an inch-worm. the prominent wake tells me there is some speed to it; not just a float along, unless there is current around the point.

  9. tropicalwolf responds:

    Not being overly critical, but:

    Using the Map above (the one with the blue/red diagram lines) and using the coordinates of 44.27.15.02N x 73.13.48.09W…

    It is my cartographical opinion, that this portion of water is NOT as deep as some would have you believe. Also, using the tennis court (at a standard 78 feet long) as a crude reference, the distance of the “thing” from the shore should only be about 40 feet (+/- a few feet) at best (most peoples’ driveways are less than forty feet). I find it difficult to accept AT THIS POINT that this is a creature any larger than a big dog (w/hanging, not pointed ears, let’s not start that debate) or big otter.

    PLEASE, let us examine this video critically before jumping to ANY conclusion about the fantastic and damaging anyone’s credibility (just in case some idiot pops out of the woodwork in a couple weeks and brags about how he fooled a bunch of scientists).

  10. Richard888 responds:

    mjmurphy:

    I see your point about the head and body looking “blockish” over several frames. A toy duck comes to mind. But keep in mind that the head and body are not static over the entire video and that they clearly change form in an undulating fashion several times.

    swnoel:

    The impact of pixilation can be tested if someone physically visits the site and compares how the pole (several tens of feet behind the creature) looks in real life, versus how it looks in the video. If the dimensions in the video are wrong then pixilation would be a big factor and the video’s value would drop. My guess is that the details of the creature are not obscured by the low resolution of the cell phone camera but by the fact that it is dusk and that the creature is backlit so that we see its shadow.

  11. MattBille responds:

    I think that the evidence is very poor for a large unknown beast living in a viable population in this lake, although this does not tule out an accosional visitor wandering upriver to the lake. This video? It looks funny – not as in faked, but as in puzzling. It’s not an easy ID to make. I’m not sure we can rule out “swimming deer plus wake effects,” but it’s not an obvious deer/moose either.

  12. swnoel responds:

    We’ll probably find out it’s someones Lab that was retrieving a ball or stick!

  13. fossilhunter responds:

    -I like the cove next door (rock in first few seconds of video)
    -Blocky items seem in water too far north (out in the water) and too far south (right by the shore) of video location to be the ones in the video. Doesn’t seem to be docks to me.
    -Shouldn’t there be boating maps marking where the bouys are located?

  14. scaryeyes responds:

    I’m also not intending to be overly critical, but I really think the section in which more of the animal’s back appears visible is just a dark wake extending back from the actual visible portion. Wakes in deep shadow can very easily look like solid objects, and the conditions are ripe for this sort of illusion. I agree the object that looks like a tail is compelling, but wouldn’t entirely rule out that being a wake effect too.

    I’m with tropicalwolf in that, while I find this video extremely exciting, I’m reluctant to jump in both feet first and start reading in things that may not be there. I’m also struck by how shallow the water appears to be in those ariel images (although if the water is very shallow, it makes the behaviour of this animal even stranger if it is a terrestrial animal – what sort of terrestrial animal would submerge in such shallow water so close to shore?)

  15. thehoch responds:

    The head seems to be the selling point for me that this is a fake.

    I smell a rat here and during hard economic times, I would think the rate of people trying to pull a fast one must increase dramatically.

    Loren, I think that would be an interesting story on your site. See if you could link the number of sighting and fuzzy videos and pics to the state of the economy.

  16. cryptidsrus responds:

    Some people on other sites I’ve frequented have come up with the theory that it is a “snapping turtle.” Ok.

    I have to admit, come to think of it, that it DOES look like a turtle somehow (particularly its neck and the way it raises it).

    If it IS a turtle, though, that has got to be the biggest mother-of-all turltes I’ve ever seen. It all depends on the distance between the creature and the point Olsen was standing on. But even then—whoa, Nelly!!!

    The body just looks too elongated to be a turtle, also. And what about the “wakes?” I’m sorry, those do not look like wakes to me.

    First moose, then deer, now turtle—It won’t be long before we get to “gigantic otter.” :)
    How about we just call it “wonderful unknown?”.

  17. Upacreek responds:

    I wanted to comment on just that portion of the video where the object stops, and slowly sinks vertically. That one position looks a lot like a seal to me. Obviously, the length of the object might be an issue with that explanation, but that assumes it is not a wake, or more than one animal.
    Also, I’m having a little difficulty understanding just how far away the object is from the camera. I realize it was a low light situation, but in my experience if the object was a known species of animal it seems to me it would have been fairly apparent what it is. Maybe it is further than I think, or darker than how it appears on the video, or maybe I’m just wrong. But I suspect if it had been a moose, a deer, or a dog, there wouldn’t be anything to discuss.

  18. mjmurphy responds:

    Two other things that bother me about the video:

    1) The slow pan right and the sudden jerk at the beginning reminds me of a zillion fake bigfoot videos. Don’t they all seem to start out like that. Like: here I am filming a totally uninteresing lake, and then…look! lake monster (or bigfoot or whatever)!

    2) The way the thing stops and sinks, starts and rises in the water, and etc., seems like the result you would get if a diver was pushing/pulling the thing, stopping, resuming motion.

  19. jerrywayne responds:

    Dang! My work computer prohibits video, so I am handicapped and must rely on the stills and other’s comments.

    I find two issues that mitigate against this object as a lake cryptid or “Champ”. First, the animal or object carries its head too high out of the water to suggest an aquatic creature. I know of no mammal or reptile that takes to the water (beaver, dolphin, snake, turtle, etc.) and holds its head so high up as it swims any distance.
    However, most terrestrial animals DO carry their heads above the water in the fashion of the object in this video.

    Second, how plausible is the suggestion that this object is a lake cryptid or “Champ”, given the very natures of the subject and circumstance. Here we have a very slow moving animal in a very well used and populated lake. If this really were a major zoological find, why did it take so long to document its existence since the animal in the film does not seem especially elusive or unverifiable?

    swnoel seems to have nailed it by pointing out the problem of cell phone cameras and distance.
    No wonder some are seeing a morphing object. But even with such issues, at least one still frame looks very deerlike to me.

    And remember, the photographer does not claim he filmed “Champ.” (Shades of Wilson at Ness).

  20. tropicalwolf responds:

    Further examination of depth maps from this particular location in the lake points to the fact that this part of the lake is very shallow.

  21. jan09 responds:

    I think the enhancements and stabilizations are useful for helping to determine the very general proportions and movement of the animal (yes, I’m quite confident this is an animal and not a log or blowup toy).

    However, I would be very leery of making definitive declarations of detail like some of the ones I’ve read (“The head/ears/snout is/isn’t shaped like a deer/dog/dinosaur”). Simply put, the resolution just isn’t there. We’re working with a low-quality cell phone video which has been converted to an even worse quality youtube video and then subsequently run through whatever programs are used to furnish the “enhancements”.

    There is not only a profound lack of/loss of detail, but there is likely a fair amount of artifacting which can cause things to appear that weren’t there, and edges to move/morph when they didn’t. Next thing you know, somebody will proclaim they see a baby Champ clinging onto the adult one.

    Great work on pinpointing the location and I hope that Mr. Olsen hasn’t been too spooked by the apparently unwanted attention that he wouldn’t consider giving researchers access to the original video file at some point, which would at least remove the youtube quality degradation from the equation.

  22. Loren Coleman responds:

    Don’t forget, the water levels in Lake Champlain are extremely high right now, from all reports.

  23. Fhqwhgads responds:

    I have to say, I am very doubtful about “enhancements” of the original footage. If the original moves like a piece of wood, and after processing it moves like an ambulocetus, I have to assume that is more an artifact of the processing than real information. There are too many problems here; I suspect it’s a hoax.

    But how? A string might not be seen, but it would have trouble causing it to rise and fall. And it almost certainly is not a diver — it’s too long for someone just holding his breath (for most people — well within the range for a few, but too long for most) and there are no bubbles. A remote control boat or sub (or both) would work better.

  24. Fhqwhgads responds:

    As a matter of fact, I built a toy sub “lake monster” for a little university I worked at a couple of years ago. It had a duck pond called “Gee Lake”, and I concocted an elaborate back-story for the monster. (Actually, two. The first was a legend linking it with Jannes and Jambres, Pharaoh’s magicians from the Exodus. After being shamed by the Hebrew escape, Pharaoh and many of his servants fled to a place they would never be found. The magicians tried the staff-to-serpent trick again, but this time the serpents escaped and gave rise to a line of snake-monsters. The second possibility was that this duck pond was the last remnant of the Cretaceous mid-continental sea.) This was supposed to run in an April-Fools edition of the student newspaper, but I never got around to submitting it.

    Anyhow, it tuns out to be pretty difficult to balance one of these things correctly. I put a T-shaped pipe under the sub for ballast, and it still tended to droop over.

  25. Ouroborus Jay responds:

    You know, a lot how this thing behaves does lend itself to being a rather larger snapping turtle. The only thing that’s throwing that idea for a loop is the way it’s head is being held out of the water. A snapping turtle is capable of doing it, but I don’t know why it would be.

  26. jan09 responds:

    Also, in the “Lake Champlain Creature Enhanced Footage” video, at about the :06-:07 mark, another dark line appears below and parallel to the “elongated back” of the animal. At the :18-:19 mark, a black shape appears toward the bottom-right side of the frame that is similar to the “tail”. Some might construe these shapes as normal ripples/waves. However, if similar shapes appear closer to the animal, some might construe them as body parts. Interesting.

  27. LordBalto responds:

    The “head” is rather catlike, don’t you think? And the head to body ratio reminds me of a leopard. Not that it IS a cat, but whatever it is, it doesn’t look like any serpent or ‘saurus I’ve ever seen. It definitely looks mammalian. One thing that does bother me is the length of the wake vs. the speed of the object. It’s either much longer than it looks or the wake is coming from something else.

  28. gavinf responds:

    A lot of the questions and comments here were in fact answered by Eric Olsen when interviewed:

    He stated that he was taking pictures on the lake when he noticed something out of the corner of his eye and turned to film it. That would allow for the sudden ‘jerk’ to the right. Also, the way the camera zooms, not smoothly, like a video camera, but in definite leaps upward, most certainly lends itself towards being a camera.

    swnoel said:
    ‘I’m not aware of any cell phone that has any ability to take quality videos at such distance.’

    That may be true. But just because someone is unaware of something does not make their statement factual beyond their own experience. I don’t know what the possible filming capabilities are of the many different cell phones on the market. That does not mean that Eric Olsen is lying.

    The idea that this is a dog seems laughable. Nothing about a dog fits the mold. The animal in question is too long. Also, the fact that it sinks straight down, continues to move forward, and re-appears smoothly, doesn’t fit the deer theory either.

    It would seem that any creature, tired or otherwise, in the water that was in distress, and went under, would move in some way more ‘distressed’? Why a continual, slow, no change in rhythm, if it is close to, if not in the process of, drowning? I know a four-legged animal doesn’t swim or sink like we do. Still, it’s too smooth.

    If this is a hoax, I have to wonder, how? If it was pulled, it had to be from the opposite shore, (and if opposite shore, how does it sink? Inflating and re-inflating remotely seems like a lot o effort and/or ability) or an individual under the water. Whatever the ‘model’ would be, has to be quite bouyant. Yet, it sinks without any effort. I don’t think anyone believes we are looking at a tiny model boat made to appear large. Whatever is in the water is bigger than a small dog or even large cat. That would make it more difficult to swim underwater with scuba gear (or hold one’s breath in what I am assuming is cold water), and pull it, and manage to cause it to sink smoothly and re-appear, and continue to move forward. I imagine trying to either sink or pull down an average size beach ball in the water. That is not that easy, especially doing so without creating a disturbance in the water.

    If it’s a hoax, how many are going to be in on it? At some point, hoax seems the least likely.

    Unless new information comes to light, this may very well be a very special piece of video.

  29. Erik Knatterud responds:

    It would be easy to rig it in a way that a crooked log or model could be towed towards the shore, with the rope or whatever being concealed under the surface. Hauling it in at different speeds would create a life like popping up and down in the surface. It is a bit suspicious and terribly convenient that the footage stops before it actually reaches land. Like all the hoaxed sasquatch footages on Utube the hand of the man is remarkably steady. I am a sea serpent hunter myself, but I swear that getting one this close up would make me tremble, holding a puny light weight cell phone filming far less dramatic scenes.

    I could be terribly wrong, may be it is a real creature. I wasn’t there, so I can not know for sure either way.

  30. KristyBeast responds:

    After watching the enhanced videos, I’m forced to revise my earlier opinion. Definitely NOT a moose or deer. I agree that at several points in the video something does appear to break the surface of the water, and it could actually be a tail.
    I also have to agree that the length of the body is much longer than what you’d expect that of a land mammal to be, especially if it were swimming because you’d expect it to be a little more scrunched up from the effort of paddling.

  31. KristyBeast responds:

    And for the record, my cell phones video capabilities are phenomenal. It’s got a zoom on it that puts my Kodak Z712 IS to shame. And actually when the video zooms, it does appear to do so in the same way that a cell phone video camera would zoom. Slightly jerky, as with most cell phones you have to continually click the zoom button until you’re satisfied.

  32. darkshines responds:

    My money is on a feline. The head and possible tail scream cat to me, as does the longer body. Why a cat would be swimming in the lake is beyond me, but cat is where I am placing my bet.

  33. KarmicGypsy responds:

    My first and immediate thought was moose or deer but after reviewing it several times I’m not so sure. The long wake makes no sense to me. A wake yes, but not that long compared to what would be the animals body if it were a moose or deer (or large dog) unless it were moving unusually fast.

    The creature certainly seems to have a camel or horse shaped head as is often reported with Champ.

    Whatever it is, it’s very interesting.

  34. CryptidHuntr responds:

    it reminds me of a turtle in a way



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