Lake Monsters Around the World

Posted by: John Kirk on May 25th, 2006

There is this notion among cryptozoology enthusiasts around the world that lacustrean (lake) cryptids around the world are all the same in terms of their appearance and morphology. I could not disagree more with this notion. I have spent the better part of the last 19 years investigating this particular area of cryptozoology and going over eyewitness sightings with a fine tooth comb. I have come to the conclusion that people are either wrong about what they are seeing or there are an awful lot of different freshwater cryptids, as many as say the nine categories of sea serpents devised by my late friend Bernard Heuvelmans.

In my book In the Domain of the Lake Monsters (Key Porter Books, 1998), I detailed the huge morphological differences between two freshwater cryptids: Ogopogo of Okanagan Lake, British Columbia and the cryptid of Loch Ness in Scotland. There are many differences I noticed between the two, too many to detail here but some of the obvious differences are that Nessie allegedly has flippers and Ogopogo has legs and feet, Nessie has mottled elephantine-like skin and Ogopogo has killer whale like skin, Nessie has a long neck and Ogopogo has a shorter neck.

Now those are the differences between Ogopogo and the Ness cryptid. But what about the alleged similarities between Ogopogo and Nahuelito in Argentina that have been raised in the columns of Cryptomundo lately? I know a fair thing or two about Nahuelito of Lago Nahuel Huapi (Lake of the Tiger’s Eye in the Mapuche Indian dialect) as I have researched it extensively and interviewed actual eyewitnesses to appearances by the creature. These are people who have all seen the creature in the last decade or so, not in some bygone day when it was chic to think that plesiosaurs lived in lakes high up in the Andes mountains or in Patagonia.

I communicated with Cristian Muller, a conservationist, from Bariloche on the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi, about his sighting. Far from being the medium necked, multi-humped and serpentine creature Ogopogo is alleged to be, Nahuelito was like a blob or a cloak (the Spanish name for some cryptids in other Argentinian lakes is El Manto or the Cloaked One). There was no head visible and it just looked like a dark mass on the water that was moving in a bit of a hurry.

Jessica Campbell and Paula Jacarbe also have seen Nahuelito and they too described it as being an amorphous mass that swam towards them. They could hear it making a hissing sound, but there was no sign of a tiny head on a slender neck or multiple humps. This was one big blob that was able to propel itself through the water. No resemblance to Ogopogo here either.

Sometimes there are such huge discrepancies about eyewitness descriptions of the appearance of certain freshwater cryptids that the only conclusion is that there must be two of them in the same lake or one of them is a big fish. You see, in Flathead Lake in Montana and Lake Storsjon in Sweden, sighting reports clearly indicate that more than one type of unknown creature is living in the lake. At Flathead Lake, the Ogopogo kind of creature has been sighted along with the biggest brown trout-type fish witnesses have ever seen. I have reports from a fair number of Flathead Lake witnesses who have described and/or sketched Ogopogo-like animals yet I have also heard experienced fishermen say what they saw was clearly a brown trout-type beast.

In Lake Storsjon there is a fish-like cryptid and one that seems to be quite mammalian in appearance. No resemblance to Ogopogo here either.

In British Columbia, there are 39 lakes in which an Ogopogo-type animal was seen at one time or another. After further questioning some witnesses admit the animal they saw wasn’t so Ogopogo-like after all, but could easily have been a sturgeon, of which there are many in this province. Skaha Lake, which is separated from Okanagan Lake by the city of Vernon, has an Ogopogo-like creature, not surprising really as the two lakes are connected by a river channel. I spoke to a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation technician last summer who watched a very large multi-humped creature keep pace with his car as he drove along the shore of Skaha Lake, yet I also have a report from a witness who saw the Skaha creature from the heights above the lake and it looked like a giant turtle to him, but without its shell.

I recently had the good fortune to read Lake Monster Mysteries by Ben Radford and Joe Nickell. Joe and Ben are skeptical about lake monsters, but on the same hand are also very reasonable men about the possibility of their existence. In their volume, Joe and Ben discuss the likelihood or unlikelihood of lacustrean cryptids existing. In one section on Ogopogo, they describe just how diversely that single cryptid has been described by people who have seen it. As Ben and Joe point out Ogopogo is supposed to have a head like a sheep, goat, snake, giraffe, alligator, dinosaur and cow. Which is it? This creature can’t possibly resemble all the above. Similarly they comment on the rainbowed hue of Ogopogo’s multicoloured skin. Sometimes you wonder whether witnesses are describing Ogopogo or the biblical Joseph’s Coat of Many Colours.

I find it hard to conceive that as many as three different types of lake cryptids could exist. One is hard enough to prove, let alone three. Sasquatches are pretty much of a sameness when you read sighting reports and a lot of eyewitness drawings are very alike. Not so with lake cryptids. I wish they were all like the serpentine, multi-humped with the skinny neck and small head, but as Nahuelito and the monsters of Flathead Lake and Lake Storsjon have shown, there are seemingly a small variety of quite different beasties.

So what do we do? Keep looking I say. We need to do a lot more work on the freshwater cryptid enigma and spend more time on choppy water, rain or shine, windy or calm in a bid to finally resolve the matter of the unsolved lacustrean cryptid. I’ll be out there this summer as usual doing my part as well as searching for that sea-going beastie of British Columbia coastal waters, Cadborosaurus, who some think is the ancestor of Ogopogo.  Don’t get me started on that, that’s a story for another time.

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.

29 Responses to “Lake Monsters Around the World”

  1. squatchworks responds:

    With connecting lakes & a water bridge spanning across the lake could these areas be set up as a choke point with sonar keeping a 24/7 surveillance for a period of time? This would show movement of ogopogo between the two points.

  2. shovethenos responds:

    This website on Norwegian sea and lake cryptids is very interesting.

    – The sighting accounts go back for hundreds of years. A lot of them are amazingly similar.

    – There are several different types of cryptids – the main types seem to be a mammalian long-necked one (water horse), a more reptilian long-necked one, and a very large snake-like one. It seems like the mammalian one is like cadbosaurus or ogopogo and the reptilian one is like champ or nessie.

    – There is even an account of a mammalian cryptid and a reptilian cryptid fighting.

    – Norway has many lakes and fjords, and there are numerous accounts of the various cryptids moving between them, sometimes over land.

    – There are accounts of some cryptids preying on livestock, like nessie allegedly has at some point.

    – There are a lot of accounts of interaction, including some being killed by humans. There is also accounts of bodies being found.

    In my opinion there is such a large volume of detailed sightings over hundreds of years that are very similar to each other, and other sightings around the world, that there has to be something there – possibly several somethings.

  3. Ranatemporaria responds:

    May it be that there is a little of “the blind men and the elephant” parable going on. For those unfamiliar 6 blind men are all feeling an elephant and describing what they think. As each man has a different part, the tail and the ear and so on, they all describe a single elephant in very different ways. People can only describe what they see or witness. As no two sightings will ever have the same variables, e.g. light, distance, angle etc, should we not expect a degree of variance? If there are multiple morphological forms on top of this, which im sure there must be as very few single species or even genus have such a wide range, no wonder were in a mess!

  4. Loren Coleman responds:

    Of course, as Patrick Huyghe and I write in our The Field Guide to Lake Monsters and Sea Serpent, there does appear to be a remarkable diversity among Lake Monsters, because, indeed, different creatures are being described, sometimes even different classes of animals.

    Also, within one lake, sexual dimorphism is often forgotten as a possible solution to why people seem to be seeing such different animals in one place. Think of it this way…how would a native person from the inner of Australia describe a young slender female walrus versus a large, whiskered, tusked, giant male walrus? As two different kinds of animals, I would propose, not as two gender-based variations of one animal.

  5. Bennymac responds:

    I agree with Ranatemporaria, it’s easy to imagine people seeing different parts of the same creature and coming up with two completely different descriptions. Not to mention how tricky it is to describe something in the water. As important as eye witness accounts are, and I believe they are very important, they can be very unreliable. Until one is hoisted out of the water in all it’s glory, we will probably never get the full picture of what “they” are. Also, for some reason I thought that Nessie has been observed on land. That would be difficult on flippers, no?

    And give some props to Champ too, one of the most photogenic water cryptids out there.

  6. Tabitca responds:

    The land sightings presume nessie moves like a seal. Unfortunately they are considered to be mistaken identity by a lot of researchers.

    Good point Loren.In order for the animals to have survived as long as they have there must be breeding pairs.

    Thanks for answering my query John (I think I asked it under the BCSCC blog, wrong place I suspect )

    The problem I have found at Loch Ness is often witnesses will see what they think they ought to see not what they actually see. They will say It was like a dinosaur and then when questioned more closely, you will find they really have no idea what a dinosaur would look like , and you get the clearer answer. I’m afraid the media has a lot to answer for. Plus two people seeing something from different vantage points on the Loch will see slightly different things.

  7. Bennymac responds:

    thanks Tabitca! I have this image/picture in my head of Nessie being caught in the headlights of a car on a small dirt road? like an artist’s recreation type of thing from an eye witness account. I’ve read and listened to Loren discuss the seal therory as well.

  8. CryptoInformant responds:

    I’m leaning towards Ogopogo(ogopogO backwards, lol) being a early whale, something like Ambulocetus, while Cadborosaurus is probably a Basilosaur, and Champ is a Tanystropheid, not a plesiosaur like Nessie. Nahuelito is probably a large, odd fish. BTW, Raystown Ray is a few pixels of black added by a Microsoft program called Paint.

  9. Tabitca responds:

    Hi Bennymac. There have been about 15 sightings on land between 1800s and the 1970’s. John may know of more recent ones.The one you are thinking of is probably the Spicer sighting in the 1930s.They were driving along the road at night and caught something in the headlights. The road around the Loch even today is not that good and is very dark, little lighting.If you read their story ,it sounds like a large seal. Seals are seen around the Loch but are fairly rare.The drawings weren’t very clear but then it was at night. It’s open verdict as far as I know,on what it was.

  10. Tabitca responds:

    Forgot to say, when I corresponded with Nicholas Witchell in the early 80’s he said they had changed their story and the creature had gone from 6-8 feet to over 25 feet in size.There was also another similar sighting by a young student (arthur something) a year late I think.There was evidence of bushes and grass been flattened as if something had dragged itself back to the Loch.Again though it was doubted.

  11. shovethenos responds:

    What about the land account of Nessie having a small animal in its mouth? I don’t see something that moves like a seal having enough dexterity to grab something with legs on land. Maybe if it ambushed something drinking like crocodilians do – but this sighting was well up on the bank, if I remember correctly. Maybe it was carrion or it had cornered something in a pen, or maybe the witness had too much Guinness, but it seems strange.

  12. Tabitca responds:

    It was, according to the local Ghillie (a sort of gamekeeper), an otter carrying it’s young. ( He is a believer btw) A rare but not unknown sight.
    The problem is everything someone sees they immediately think it is Nessie. If they were in say Ballindalloch inland, they would look for other explanations.
    All I will say is I have seen Nessie as a genuine sighting at least once. I was sober, don’t take drugs or any medications and apart from when I use the computer don’t wear specs. My academic reputation is now shall we say unsecure because of it, but I know I saw something.

  13. Bennymac responds:

    thanks, Tabitca — good stuff!

  14. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    Mr. Kirk,
    With all due respect (and as I’m sure you are aware) not all of the creatures reported as “Bigfoot” are homogeneous in their appearance. There are differences in height, skull shape, prescence/absence of distinguishable “necks” or “chins”, some have five toes, others four, some have been reported to leave three toed prints. Etc. Etc.
    While it may make it a little harder to believe the potential reality of a cryptid, nature rarely fits squarely into the neat little boxes we devise for it.

  15. shovethenos responds:


    Can you briefly recount your sighting? Did you see a head/neck or just humps? When? Where around the loch?

  16. Mnynames responds:

    The Loch Ness land accounts bring to mind another cryptid from the region- the Dobhar Chu, or King Otter. These are said to be a giant, and possibly long-necked, variety of otter, with sightings also going back for centuries. This would explain the neck and tail and dark colour of many Nessie sightings, as well as the land sightings, and as we all know, an otter can move much faster than a seal (On land). It also goes a long way to explain how such a large animal finds food in some of the smaller British lakes where monsters have been reported- when the lake is fished out, they walk out and over the hills to the next loch, not to mention the fact that they can no doubt obtain some food on land as well. I am not about to declare that the Dobhar Chu, Kelpie, Water Horse, Nessie, and the Pictish Beast must be the same animal, but you have to admit that they do share several features. And Tabitca, do tell! (I’d even like to hear about your other, less reliable, sighting)

  17. Tabitca responds:

    sorry it’s taken me a while to answer this. Even grown up children need their mum sometimes so i’ve been busy with family stuff. I’m going to try and cut and paste as much of my observation sheet as I can.As Sods law would have it ,I was taking some friends sight seeing so was not actually looking and have been kicking myself ever since for being unprepared.


    Date and Time
    Thursday April 17th 2003 11am approx

    Weather conditions and visibility
    Very warm day for April. Clear , no mist. Good visibility.

    Description of sighting
    One hump very large appearing almost black in the water.

    Account of sighting ,location etc
    .Lay by near Urquehart bay. Has limited but clear view across the loch. The man in traditional scottish dress with his bagpipes was just setting up.T and N went off to take photos of man in kilt whilst I stood looking out at the Loch. I turned away to laugh at them and then turned back and saw something in the water. Grabs binoculars from car.waves frantically at t and N to bring camera but they are oblivious, daren’t shout as previous sightings say noise frightens the creature away.
    After a couple of seconds run to grab camera from T,too late .All that is left is a circle of ripples. Lasted approx 3minutes.

    Thought at the time
    I couldn’t get over how clearly it stood out against the water. From where I was standing and comparing it later with the size of a passing boat, I estimate it to be 8-10feet long, about 4-6 feet high.

    Thoughts later.
    I know this wasn’t a seal or a bird, I’ve seen too many before. It wasn’t a mat of vegetation there was movement around it that suggested flippers I don’t know why but a whale came to my mind.may be it was bon jovi playing in the car that attracted it…maybe nessie is a fan.


  18. Tabitca responds:

    My other sighting was in 1973.I was at a part on the beach at Dores,it was a hot day and we were drinking and just having fun. It was the end of july ,my birthday weekend, and I was just the legal age to drink , and some people were smoking herbal cigarettes ,so i put it down to the fumes and the champagne. I was paddling in the water and looked up and saw something,like two humps in the water, but a long distance away. Never thought anymore about it until a few days later.So not reliable I’m afraid.

  19. twblack responds:

    It is a very large land mass for Bf’s and other cryptid land creatures to stay hidden. But a lake is a lake with all the advance tech. and people looking and just plain boating and fishing and no plain sight evid. or dead body washed up on shoar line?? I want to belive but lake monsters I am just a little more on the skepticle side of this issue.

  20. shovethenos responds:


    Thanks. How do you think whatever it is avoids the sonar sweeps?

    Also, on Dick Raynor’s site do you think the picture he has listed under “seals” is actually a gray seal? It looks awfully un-sealike from what I can tell.


    There have been corpses, at least of what are called “sea monsters”. Several corpses thought to be of “cadbosaurus”, sometimes seen in Cadboro Bay in British Columbia, have been found and photographed. One corpse, thought to be taken from the stomach of a Sperm Whale, had a well-preserved camel-like head. In fact the art at the top of this page seems to be based on this same kind of camel-like configuration.

    Here’s a link to the pictures.

    Note that these seem to resemble the accounts of “sea horse” type sea monsters that have occurred in various spots around the world.

  21. Tabitca responds:

    Hi guys it’s 9am here in England. University lecturers are on strike at the moment which is why I have time to Blog.:-)
    I’ve had 2 cups of coffee so should be awake …..

    First you have to understand about the Loch. It’s vast. it’s over 23 miles long, by a mile wide and over 800feet deep. A few feet down the water is black, even with strong lights you can barely see. It’s actually quite scary down there.You could stand every person in the Uk in the loch and still have room to spare. The drop is sheer, little evidence of caves but some ledges. (If you ever go to Loch Ness get the Bus from Inverness to’ll see that there is sheer rock face on one side of you and and a sheer drop the other…and that is what it is like in the loch.) Recently a fisherman with sonar discovered a hole/cave in the bottom of the loch, (nessie’s home perhaps?) but no definite proof. Sonar bounces off the walls of the Loch so you get a lot of false readings. anything that dies in the loch falls to the bottom. People have tried dragging the Loch but it’s just too big. There is very little shore to be washed up on. There are few places for a clear view due to foliage etc.

    Thanks for the link to the pictures. Could be an oar fish or the remains of a basking shark, often mistaken for a sea monster. If the remains where found did anyone get a sample? The first thing I would do, no matter how bad the smell is get a piece and take it to the university marine biology department for analysis.

    I think caddy may well exist.There is so much evidence. To add to the pot, there have been several sightings over the years of sea serpents/monsters off Aberdeen UK by seasoned fisherman. They tend not to drink too much when on board ship and go mad when they get into port, so not whisky fueled dreams.

    And thanks for the interest guys, it’s always good when people ask questions.

  22. shovethenos responds:


    The “cadbosaurus” corpses were all found in the 30’s. The one allegedly found in the Sperm Whale’s stomach seems well-preserved, and not the result of a basking shark rotting. It’s odd that the head looks camel-like, but who knows what’s possible. Seals and sea lions look like aquatic dogs, so maybe it isn’t that unusual.

    This was all well before DNA testing, so I don’t think any of the carcasses were preserved.

  23. Tabitca responds:

    It’s very difficult to tell anything without lab facilities when something is half digested. Now the first thing we think of is get a sample, in the old days that just wasn’t considered …photography was the new science.
    I often wonder how many species have died out that we never knew about, that were never discovered.I just hope sea and lake monsters don’t get killed off by pollution before we get some definitive answers

  24. Tabitca responds:

    I don’t know if it’s of any interest but there are a lot of seminal books on Loch Ness for sale on the moment. There are also some bigfoot models including one that talks when you pull a string 🙂
    I got a DVD of the old Peter Cushing Abominable snowman film really cheap.

  25. Tabitca responds:

    John is there any chance your book will get re-printed? There are very few copies about in the Uk and I’m sure there would be a few commentators on here that would buy it.

  26. John Kirk responds:


    I am looking at the possibility of my book being reprinted, but it is unlikely it will be in the same format as previously. I am amazed it sold out like it did. I never thought that the subject of lacustrean cryptids would be so enthusiastically received.

    If it is republished, Cryptomundo and BCSCC readers will be the first hear about it. Meanwhile I have to finish my book on Mokele-mbembe before I look at republishing my previous work.

    In regard to the Cadborosaurus carcass mentioned in this column. This is the carcass of an entirely unknown marine creature. Jim Wakelen who was there in 1937 and is still alive today, is absolutely adamant that this was an unknown creature the likes of which he never saw before or after despite vigorous efforts to try and identify the creature he saw. It is not an oarfish as you have postulated.

    Captain Bill Hagelund – one of British Columbia’s greatest whalers and who I have personally interviewed – has categorically stated that he caught a juvenile version of the 1937 creature at Pirate’s Cove, Decourcey Island in 1967. He knows it is not an oarfish either.

    Both Phyllis Harsh of Orcas Island, Washington and two fisherman at Ganges Harbour, Saltspring Island have also said that the creatures they respectively returned to the sea were juvenile versions of the Naden Harbour creature. They all described the creature as looking somewhat similar to a dinosaur.

    The Naden Harbour carcass fits perfectly with the descriptions provided by many eyewitnesses over the last 100 years. It is not a known animal and I agree with Leblond and Bousfield that we have a new species of Northern Pacific marine megaserpent known as Cadborosaurus willsi and based on the Naden Harbour photos as the holotype.

    Now, all my mates and I at the BCSCC and Operation CaddyScan have to do is get a type specimen or better photo to put this issue to bed. That being said, our work is cut out for us and so back to the digital surveillance system we go for another summer of observation.

    Wish us luck!!

  27. Tabitca responds:

    I wish you all the luck in the world John and your fellow researchers. I would give anything to prove a water based cryptid exists.Please keep us informed of how it’s going if you can,and if there is anything we can do to help.(though I can’t come to Canada but am planning a trip for next year depending on work and family commitments). I did get up to Loch ness at easter though so feel my year hasn’t been wasted. (thats the trouble with life it gets in the way of cryptozoology 😉 ).I’d love to hear about the new book when it’s published, as I’m sure would everyone else on here.

  28. J-Foisy responds:

    In the past I lived for quite a few years in upper New York state near the Saint Lawrence river. Native American Elders have stated that there is lake monsters in their oral history regarding the Saint Lawrence River. Does anyone know if there has ever been any modern sightings reported?

  29. shumway10973 responds:

    Of course all the lake creatures aren’t the same. We don’t even know what is in some of those lakes at all, simply because they are so deep. I know that Jacques-Yves Cousteau dove in Lake Tahoe and refused to release what they recorded because he felt the world was not ready to see. We really have no clue about what could possibly be in most of our lakes. Yes, there has to either be both sexes or the ability to impregnate themeselves. By the way, the native name for the south american lake is translated to Lake of the Tiger’s Eye–how did the ancient inca’s know what a tiger is? Isn’t it conceivable that when the ice age that killed off most dinos, the water ones could have actually survived? After all, if the water froze completely, would we have fish today?

Leave your comments

You must be logged in to post a comment.

|Top | Content|


|Top | FarBar|