Pressie: What Is It?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 4th, 2008

In 1977, Randy L. Braun was hiking along Lake Superior when he had a mysterious encounter with an unidentified watery cryptid.

What do you think his photograph of it looks like?

What is it?

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. 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. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

42 Responses to “Pressie: What Is It?”

  1. Andrew responds:

    Looks like a couple of rocks a few feet off shore to me.

  2. pdxbigfoot responds:

    The head looks like a Python of sorts, mainly the markings running through the eye. Stray reticulated python? African rock? Burmese? Doubt a very large Columbia Boa. I remember seeing my father and uncle (both 20 yr retired marines) as a boy both being freaked out on Devils Lake in North Dakota by a very large snake like creature.

  3. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Could be pretty much anything. Actually it looks somewhat like the dark rocks reflecting sunshine you can see along the shore behind Braun as he speaks.

    Why are we hearing about this thirty years after the fact?

  4. Spinach Village responds:

    I enjoyed this, maybe too cold for a python, huh? I’m not sure what time of year it was. It reminded me of some of those ancient type of depictions, maybe medieval, of the looping type of sea serpent.
    The head looked huge in relation to the waves. Loving it though.

  5. Rappy responds:

    It does definitely have a pythonesque vibe to it.

  6. CamperGuy responds:

    I’m not very familiar with Pythons etc. but that is my initial impression.
    Does the description of the swimming method match large constrictor snakes?
    Is Lake Superior too cold for snakes?
    A pet snake tossed into the water?
    I’d think Mr. Braun would recognize a snake if he saw one though and the question would be why is that type of snake there?
    My guess is a normal animal in the wrong place.

  7. Rappy responds:

    I have no idea how cold the water would have been at the time, but the description of it undulating and weaving does sound a lot like a python. Now, I have seen (in my opinion too many) pythons as pets before, so I imagine that an escaped python would not be too far-fetched if it was a warm enough day. I’m going to try to do some simple 3D images later to see if I can make a python head that matches the image, and try the same with a slick rock.

  8. eireman responds:

    I would say rock as well but it is so vague that it could be anything: rock, tree stump, blobness monster. I do find it funny that we had to sit through what seemed like 93 minutes of him describing how he placed his backpack here, sat down there, faced this direction, brushed an errant strand of hair from his forearm… Yeah, we get it: you sat down, looked over there, saw it.

  9. Saint Vitus responds:

    All known snakes swim with a side to side motion, not up and down, which is what I think he meant when he said it made an undulating motion. I think we can rule out python or giant snake, because of this fact and because the water is probably too cold there. The “teeter-tottering” motion of the head that he described does remind me of something I’ve seen water snakes do-they sometimes stand very still in the water, probably trying to imitate a stick or something, and if there are waves, the head might look like it’s moving. But of course, a stick or rock or any other object sticking out of the water would do the same thing.

  10. calash responds:

    It never fails to amaze me how so many people seem to take only one picture.

    I mean come on what are you saving the film for?

    ”Look there’s Bigfoot/Nessie/Flying Saucer. I think one picture is enough. Never know there may be an albino squirrel further down the path.”

    Seriously wouldn’t you use all your film or exhaust your memory chip or batteries?

  11. Smug responds:

    Doesn’t look like much of anything to me. And only 1 photo? Do more exist?

  12. Rappy responds:

    Saint Vittus: I assumed that undulation meant the “side-spin roll”, but thank you for that clarification.

  13. Tuneboy responds:

    The average temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Even in the summer it is pretty dang cold, I know since I live next to it and have swam in it (or tried) since I was a child. Although it doesn’t state where on Lake Superior it happened, and it is a huge lake, it looks to be the north shore. I doubt any large known snake could live long in that frigid water.

  14. CamperGuy responds:

    I googled Randy L. Braun and found he is quoted as saying the thing reminded him of an anaconda but it was HUGE!

    Something to the effect the girth was the size of a Volkswagen. The face had a horse look to it and a two foot long “catfish whisker”

  15. Ceroill responds:

    I have to be in the rock or other object camp, at least for now.

  16. Saint Vitus responds:

    The “catfish whisker” thing made me think “giant catfish”, but fish all swim side to side not up and down. That would also rule out sturgeon. I agree with calash on this one, if I saw a potential cryptid and had a camera with me, I would try to take as many shots as possible.

  17. semillama responds:

    The up and down movement really suggests a large log or something. It just doesn’t fit with normal systems of locomotion for aquatic animals.

    It could be possible he was seeing two animals, perhaps a pair of lake trout or sturgeons.

  18. sasquatch responds:

    I believe there are Indian legends and other reports of giant black snakes in the great lakes.

  19. Richard888 responds:

    A potentially good story that lacks in supporting evidence except for the witness’s good personality and a poor quality picture.

  20. Alligator responds:

    Well, that was interesting and as with all crypto reports, fun to read and watch. But I have problems with this report. In essence there are no other corroborating witnesses; how can you tell where the photograph was taken? And then the photograph doesn’t show you anything with specific or with identifiable detail. How can you tell what it is or if the two humps are even connected to each other? You basically have to take this guys word that what he saw 35 years ago was a giant, animated creature.

    sasquatch mentioned Indian legends and black snakes in the Great Lakes. Reports of water creatures are pretty universal amongst North American Indians. Almost any large body of water could harbor these creatures. They are always a spirit being although they may appear as a large snake, a cougar (the underwater panther) or cougar body with snake tail and deer antlers. Apparently they could appear different ways and be a benevolent or malicious spirit depending on the occasion. In the Mississippi and Missouri River, these creatures were believed to dwell where there were large whirlpools and eddys.

    Tales of giant leeches – we’re talking 20 to 30 foot size – also exist in the legends of many tribes. The Ojibway had them (hence Leech Lake in Minnesota) and I’ve heard Osage and Ho-chunk (Winnebago) stories about giant leeches. The fact that this Pressie creature is described as swimming with an undulating motion would be more reminiscent of a leech than a reptilian or fish like creature.

    The image in the picture was “pythoneseque.” Of course a big Burmese or retic or a water snake in the water can still look like a log, rock or stick. On the nature shows, you see them zeroed in with good light etc. In the wild and in poor light they can be harder to pick out. Conversely, what you think is a big snake in the water that you patiently stalk can indeed turn out to be a log, rock or stick.

    Eireman said this
    “I would say rock as well but it is so vague that it could be anything: rock, tree stump, blobness monster. I do find it funny that we had to sit through what seemed like 93 minutes of him describing how he placed his backpack here, sat down there, faced this direction, brushed an errant strand of hair from his forearm… Yeah, we get it: you sat down, looked over there, saw it.”

    Well said my fellow Celt. His harangue of these details strikes me as a way of trying to lend some kind of credibility to an otherwise dubious sighting. Things that I’ve seen over the years that puzzled me or frightened me, I simply can’t remember every specific detail of what was going on (like brushing a strand of hair from my forehead).
    I’m sorry but I find the whole thing suspect. That’s not to say that he didn’t see something odd in the water, but that sure doesn’t mean it was a giant serpent.

    Of course, we can go with a line of swimming otters, they swim in an undulating motion. Sorry, I couldn’t resist 🙂

  21. Ftero responds:

    I know Lake Erie has water snakes in it because I saw them on Dirty Jobs, but Lake Superior is definitely farther north and probably a bit more chilly so I don’t know if there would be any snakes there like in Erie. Much less a really big one like he’s saying.

    Like some others have said it seems strange that there is just one picture. Maybe there were other pictures that they just didn’t show in the clip? I didn’t catch it in this clip but did he say anywhere what his camera was? Digital or film? If it was film you could look at the negatives, if it’s digital then it might as well be a picture drawn in oil paint or something. Seemed like a fairly credible guy though.

  22. Ftero responds:

    Ahh, I didn’t hear the 35 years ago part of it, so it wasn’t a digital camera hehe. Some good info Alligator, I’m leaning more towards your opinion of it.

  23. mauka responds:

    Because pythons live and evolved so far away I would rule that out. But a snake maybe, a large one.

  24. windigo responds:

    First, it should never take thirty years to reveal something so fantastic, if true. Second, why is there only one photo when he was clearly in a position to have taken more. It says to me that he initially had some some suspicions about what the photos depicted and, assuming it’s not a hoax, he simply wanted to see what others thought. Regardless, even if his intentions are genuine, there is probably not enough resolution to work with in the photo.

  25. bloodtintedwindow responds:

    The picture looks completely fake to me, almost like this guy pasted an image of a python head and put it in the lake. The “hump”looks to me like a rock. Even if this event HAD happened, there is a possibility that it could be a loose python swimming in the lake. People do dump their pets where ever they please, and this could well be the explanation for this event.

  26. SuperSpyVelociraptor responds:

    In the last picture it looks somewhat like a black plastic bag or something in my mind. These days of people littering where they feel like it really both, makes me sick of the human race and adds one more possibility of what something floating on a lake could be. Could even be a dead fish or a piece of rubber or some other garbage from one of the countless shipwrecks laying on the bottom of all of those lakes.

  27. springheeledjack responds:

    I came across this one earlier last year. First impressions were of something akin to a snake.

    HOWEVER (yeah, I do like that word:), I think the one picture taken does send up a red flag. I can see someone getting awestruck or freaked and completely forgetting the camera, but if you shoot one, my money is on firing an entire roll just to see what you can get out of it. Then again I am into the crypto-thing, but it still bothers me.

    Other than that, any guess is as good as any. Incidentally, Alligator, what else have you got on the giant leeches? My info is minimal and that is an intriguing theory.

  28. PhotoExpert responds:

    Sounds to me like he may have photographed some large spawning carp. Coming into the shallows and then moving back out is typically what they do. Some carp get really big. I do not see anything unusual about this story at all, except maybe a misidentification and exaggeration of a naturally occurring activity with a known species of fish.

  29. Alligator responds:


    Leeches of gigantic proportions are found in the stories about the Holy Twins. The father of the Twins (the sun) told them to stay away from a great lake in the south, but being boys and contrary by nature that is where they went. They went swimming and were soon covered in leeches. As the leeches filled with blood they got so big until some of them were as big or bigger than the boys themselves. The leeches actually killed one boy and then the other, but they took turns reviving each other and fought against the leeches. Soon they had killed the giant leeches and began to feast on their meat. They referred to the leeches as “soft-shelled turtles,” not knowing or pretending not to know, what they really were. Sometimes the Twins were tricksters about these things. The father of the Twins was offered a kettle full of this “turtle” meat, but he knew what it was. He made the boys dump the “meat” out and scour out the kettle. In another variation of this story, the Twins claimed that the giant leeches were just strips of jerky.

    These stories about the Holy Twins were pretty common with many tribes east of the Rockies. These stories take place in ancient, mythic times. The Twins helped make it possible for humans to live safely on the earth. In their adventures they killed or banished all kinds of monsters, giants or ferocious animals that lived on the earth, giant leeches being one of them. The belief in underwater creatures or water spirits is certainly not widespread today but a few traditional elders still claim to see them. There are certain places you do not go, certain waters you do not enter because these things may still be there.

    I vaguely recall hearing a Chippewa (Ojibway) story a long time ago about how Leech Lake got its name. But I’m drawing a blank on the details so I’ll have to try to look up the tale. Leeches incidentally can do rather well in chilly waters.

    I watched a horse leech about three inches long swimming through a clear stream once. It actually was very graceful and swam rapidly in an undulating movement. The speed surprised me as well. As it moved through the water its size (length and width) were constantly changing. When it stretched out it was nearly double its length and then contract to the size of a silver dollar (the old kind). In regards to Pressie and some other “water monster” sightings, a large invertebrate of some kind would account better for undulating movements, changing sizes, multiple humps appearing and disappearing and the usually very brief time spent on the surface. These characteristics don’t fit well with a vertebrate, especially one that breathes air.

  30. Buttersquatch responds:

    I’m not impressed. It looks photoshopped imo.

  31. johnstownmonster responds:

    That was fun to watch. For me, it had a water-snake or python-like appearance. But it’s probably not animate.

    It really shouldn’t take 30 years to hear about this stuff. In 1977, we didn’t have forums like the internet to disseminate information so quickly and broadly. My only hope is that new technologies and networking opportunities will aid in that regard.

    THANKS for posting!

  32. Husker1911 responds:

    Rocks don’t work their way from right to left.

  33. shumway10973 responds:

    YouTube sucks. I couldn’t see anything at all to say that they were anything important. Could have been anything from rocks to lumber–I dunno. My only question is, “was he that jumpy before the sighting?”

  34. dogu4 responds:

    So, let’s see here. We got a deep cold lake, a post glacial feature the bottom of which is covered in a deep layer of silt. It has a history of “eels or “leeches”, some kind of shiny dark sinuous creature that appears briefly and sporadically. Sounds a bit like Loch Ness, as well as a number of other similar lakes around the northern hemisphere at the historic margin of the glacial advance into more temperate regions.

    Are there any big northern post glacial lakes that don’t have these sightings?

    I would be surprised if at one time or another almost every kind of floating object/atmospheric effect to cluster of birds or shoaling fish hasn’t been misidentified as a lake monster, but this witnesses report and for what it was worth the picture he had sure seems like it’s in that class of sightings of a large eel or lamprey or one of the other primitive jawless chordates that live long slow lives in deep aluvial mud awaiting the signal that the inevitable load of carcasses and other tasty organics have been delivered by a 500 year cycle flood as they are now decaying and sending out dinner invitations to feast like kings, or perhaps the water temperature was just right and it triggered an instinct to rise on a moonfilled night to navigate by scent and magnatite across a cold wet landscape and complete its life cycle.

    Or I guess it could be a marine iguana that escaped.

  35. Artist responds:

    Really had me going there for a minute, Dogu4, until the iguana…

    Otter be ashamed of yourself!

  36. squatch-toba responds:

    I like the “carp” idea. If they were spawning at this time, they might swim on their sides giving a look of undulating movement. They can also reach very large size and the back is dark in color. Then again a sturgeon may account for the “snake like” head, same goes for a very large eel. Superior is a big, deep, dark lake. Who knows what is down there?

  37. Artist responds:

    The Edmund Fitzgerald, for one thing, Squatch-toba.

  38. dogu4 responds:

    Artist: well it could be an escaped reptile cuz not everyone can monitor lizards very well.

    But all things dark dank and lovecraftian aside, the idea of a rare and occasional morph of a known species of eel with indeterminate size, with a highly specialized set of instincts that compel it to seek out new habitat for its species, is not entirely an exercise in the absurd. A lot of old concepts we have about species and sexual reproductive strategies and roles and what is and isn’t sensible based our terrestrial perspective is being re-examined. For instance, salmon, it turns out may be operating on probabilities little better than raw chance to return to their specific birth stream. Yes, it does happen but when the entire population is observed and accounted for it turns out that lots of its birth cohorts go other places. And if you think about it, that makes sense otherwise it would be pretty hard to colonize newly formed post glacial streams, which coincidentally, is what salmon favor for spawning (gravels and temps being important to their instincts, evidently) and of course, there are the parr which are an immature morphs of the species which are sexually precocious and in contrast to the little movie we run in our heads when we imagine salmon mating, these guys fertilize a quarter of the eggs by sneaking in while the males battle it out for control of the redd and the female who will lay her eggs in it. We focus on salmon because they are of importance to us economically and because I think humans see something affirming in the outward expression of domesticity and loyalty to its natal stream, but a closer examination provides a more complex pattern, one that has been honed by gazillions of generations to secure the genetic legacy by adapting to the glacial world and the habitats it provides, habitats that have become less dominant in our inter-glacial period. And salmon aren’t by any means the only species that go through these amazing physical changes traveling from different habitats. Eels,of course, shad, salamanders, herring, birds do it, bees do it. The Noah’s ark concept of 1 plus 1 equals a species is almost the exception when it comes to the full range of reproductive strategies.

    So, all kidding aside, I really wonder if anyone has actually secured a few carcasses of cows or whatever down in the dark cold deep and watched to see if something comes to recycle it…in the oceans, on the alluvial fans that radiate away from the continents for hundreds of miles underwater and at depths rarely examined at any length, hagfish and some eel pouts and giant amphipods, carnivorous shrimp and who knows what may show up tomorrow (but I doubt if we’ll have a camera on it when it happens) are the scavengers. In places they live under the silt, waiting and conserving energy and protecting their genetic legacy, for how long? They, like a lot of cold living creatures, have very slow metabolisms and few requirements outside of the occasional chance arrival following a particularly severe flood which climatologists categorize by their frequency…so, since there are thousand year flood cycles, are there creatures whose life cycles have synchronized with these climatic cycles? Is that any more unlikely than the notion that we already know all about all the creatures that inhabit the ocean?

    I for one gladly welcome our future oceanic silt dwelling overlords.

  39. KurtB responds:

    This gentleman has been shopping his photo around for almost ten years now. I don’t put much faith in it being a large animal, but I believe Dr. Ed Bousfield has looked at it and reached a different conclusion.

  40. mooppoint responds:

    Excitable, possibly credible, human fooled by wave action.

    In other words, rock.

  41. sowhatofit responds:

    This picture was taken at the mouth of the Presque Isle River in the North West Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I know this picture has been around for quite some time…longer than ten years, I thought. Perhaps I am wrong.

    The rocks in the picture, or the snake/sea monster, are quite common in the area. Could just be the right light at the right time. Could be real?

  42. Isaac responds:

    Looks to me like the head of a large snake or the head of a plesiosaur.

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