Photo of Cameron Lake Monster?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 22nd, 2009

What could it be?

The photograph by Bridget Horvath in August of 2007 is said to be of the Cameron Lake cryptid.

John Kirk confers with Adam McGirr about what lies beneath the boat. Neil Horner photo.

They’re back.

The British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club have returned from their weekend exploration of Cameron Lake in British Columbia.

John Kirk was realistic about what they might discover, as he began the weekend. As he scanned the choppy lake surface with his binoculars, he reported that it was unlikely that a body of water as small as Cameron Lake could serve as a home to a creature that has been estimated by some to be as long as 12 feet or more, which he said the number of reports seems to indicate that people are seeing something real.

“When it’s choppy like that, there’s no hope for surface observation,” he said.

Regarding the photograph by area resident Bridget Horvath in August of 2007, John Kirk was subdued:

It could be a number of things. A bunch of otters swimming in a line can look uncannily like Ogopogo. So can swimming beavers or muskrats. Another possibility is that it could be a sterile eel, which can get up to 12-feet long. It could also be a sturgeon, although there are no reports of sturgeon being caught in this lake.

John Kirk

Horvath, who lives in Nanaimo, said she was driving along Highway 4 on July 30, 2007, when she saw a strange semi-circle in the lake.

“You could see like a serpent shape,” said Horvath, who isn’t the only person to report something strange in Cameron Lake.

“It wasn’t logs,” she said. “It wasn’t waves. There were no boats in the area. It was, like, right there. You could actually see a large fish, (an) object, no, not an object, something alive.”

Or it could be what’s called “windrows,” Kirk wonders, instead of a monster like the local sea serpent Cadborosaurus.

[A windrow] is basically a wake that’s created by the wind. You can even get the effect of whitecaps on the font, but it’s not an animal. It’s just the wind. The lake is very small. There are lots of fish in it, but I don’t know how an apex predator could survive here, unless it can make its way to the ocean through underground tunnels.

John Kirk

As the expedition began for Adam McGirr, the club’s technology expert, he remarked that while he didn’t expect to see a cryptid, he was hoping the underwater camera and fish finder would assist in obtaining a visual image of whatever is down there:

This will help us look at the bottom of the lake in certain areas. When it gets too deep, towards the middle, it will help us see the average size of the fish here. As well, there are reports of a couple of rocks submerged in the water that could be mistaken for a creature when the wind whips up, making it look like water spraying over the back of something, so we would like to take a look at that, too.

Someone staying at the Cameron Lake Resort saw a really big object on their fish finder, so we might end up getting a signature of something really big, too. There’s a rumour of there’s a plane that went down in the lake some 15 or 20 years ago, down there, so we’ll see if it shows up on the fish finder as something long and potentially monster-like.

Adam McGirr

The team also included Horvath and fellow club member Sebastian Wang.

The weekend was not without its curses. The first boat, supplied by the Oceanside Tourism Association, proved to be too big to launch from the beach and had to be driven back to Port Alberni and replaced with a smaller one.

Then, on Saturday, they found it was blustery, bringing whitecaps to the lake and making surface observations of ripples or wakes virtually impossible.

Neil Horner of Parksville Qualicum Beach News observed:

Once the second boat got underway, the underwater camera search proved short-lived. Mere minutes after Kirk and McGirr lowered the camera over the side by its 50-foot cable, they found out the water was too dark to see anything much with it. Worse was to follow.

As the boat made a turn to circle back to the beach to drop off one group of media and pick up another, Kirk, who was manipulating the cable, felt it jerk and pull, before going ominously slack.

The cable had been sliced cleanly in two by the boat’s propeller, leaving the camera to sink to the lake bottom, some 70 feet below.

Clearly disappointed with the setback, the team returned to the beach, where more trouble loomed.

As the second group prepared to board, the boat swamped, forcing team members to bail frantically with whatever was at hand — from a hand pump to paddles.

As the second media tour headed out into the whitecaps, McGirr was philosophical.

I’m not too upset about the camera, although I’m a little disappointed. We had a good look around yesterday and we are not giving up yet. This mission was just the first exploration. It’s like fishing. If you dangle a line for just five minutes, you aren’t likely to catch anything. Patience is a virtue.

Adam McGirr

Then some success near Angel Rock.

Something just went ‘ping’ on the alarm on the fish finder and we saw this absolutely massive object in the midst of various fish.

Just off Angel Rock we encountered a very large hit on the fish finder. It was far larger than any fish we had encountered that day. To ensure that is was not a misreading or a school of fish moving through the area, we went over that area four times in 20 minutes and each time the object was in the vicinity each time we passed over. It appears to be organic, but that is all I can tell you.

We found it very unusual for there to be something that big in the lake, so it has prompted us to start making plans to return to the lake next summer — if we get the kind of sponsorship we did this time. I am still not convinced there is a cryptid in the lake, but there is something very large. It could be an eel, a sturgeon, a large fish or even a semi-waterlogged tree trunk, but it may also be a unknown animal and we are obliged to put this story to rest, one way or another.

We were quite stunned that there was something that big in the lake and it was in about 60 feet of water, less than 30 yards from shore, it was quite amazing.

Maybe it’s a sturgeon, maybe it’s a giant sterile eel….it could be a massive type of salamander. Or it could be something that we’re completely unaware of at this point.

I’m not going to the extent to say there’s anything exotic down there, there’s just something big.

John Kirk

Could it be Cadborosaurus? That cryptid was adopted as an unofficial tourism mascot in the Victoria area, and Kirk feels it is real because fishermen found one inside the belly of a sperm whale in 1937 and sent it to the Royal B.C. Museum for identification.

“We’ve had what you might say in scientific terms is the type-specimen there,” said Kirk. “Most people describe this thing as an elongated serpent-like creature. It has a camel-like head. That description comes up over and over.”

A former clerk of the B.C. legislature, Henry William Langley and provincial archivist Fred Kemp, issued a joint statement in 1922 saying they’d seen a sea creature off Chatham Island near Victoria.

“These are not nut-case people. These are very serious people,” Kirk told reporter Neil Horner.

In 1951, Langley died tragically when he was crushed to death under the wheels of a Nanaimo-bound train as it was pulling out of the Victoria station.

But the wonder of Caddy lives on.

Cadborosaurus’ range is not confined to the Victoria area, as sightings of a similar animal have come from the Gulf of Alaska to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, says Kirk. In Oregon, the animal goes by the name Colossal Claude.

In British Columbia, these cryptozoological encounters are beginning to show up in tourism brochures.

“Like Moberly Lake up in the (northeast) area, the First Nations there got in touch with me and told me about the creature that they had been seeing with a horse’s head swimming around in the lake, and now they’ve given it a name,” John Kirk said.

“They call it Moberly Dick.”

Sources: BCSCC, Dirk Meissner/The Canadian Press, and Neil Horner/Parksville Qualicum Beach News.

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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.

29 Responses to “Photo of Cameron Lake Monster?”

  1. whiteriverfisherman responds:

    No cryptid here, just a wake. When magnified it is pretty obvious.

  2. praetorian responds:

    Vancouver Island has lots of lakes and rivers. While Cameron Lake may not have a direct connection to the sea, something that was comfortable humping along short distances over land could no doubt find a way in. A similar situation exists with some Irish loughs that seem far too small to support a large creature, but still manage to generate lake monster sightings.

    I’m partial to an unidentified pinniped identity for lake monsters. They can live in both fresh and salt water, they do well in cold conditions, they can move on land, and they offer an explanation for land sightings.

    That being said, Ms. Hovarth’s photo could easily be of something more prosaic.

  3. wuffing responds:

    The BCSCC is to be commended for its prompt and candid reporting of its trials and tribulations.

    John Kirk does however state “Another possibility is that it could be a sterile eel, which can get up to 12-feet long.”

    Could he kindly supply a reference for his information regarding British Columbian freshwater eels of that size – or indeed of any size?

  4. dwindell responds:

    As a fisherman, this looks like it could possibly be a bait ball being chased to the surface by a predatory fish such as a bass.

  5. Frogking responds:

    I once saw a doucmentary in which Alligators make there backs vibrate and it makes the water “jump” around it – perhaps this is the cause of the effect?

  6. cryptidsrus responds:


    Could be a wake indeed, but we cannot state that DEFINITIVELY.

    Whatever this could or could not be, it definitely bears investigating. We cannot have the “nothing to see here—move along” attitude of some here (and you know who you are) 🙂 .

    “Something” is in Lake Cameron—what it is is up to debate–but we cannot just dismiss the witnesses (who seem reliable, as far as I can tell) and visual evidence as just “misidetification” simply because some just immediately, reflexively label it as something “normal.”

    Praetorian has a good point that it could be an “unidentified pinniped.”
    And again, I’m not saying it is NOT a wake or even a “bait ball” (to acknowledge Dwindell’s theory)—heck, it could even be an Alligator, like FrogKing said—
    Let’s just not label these photos and eyewitness testimony as something definite yet, Ok?
    Let’s be more truly “scientific.”

  7. lukedog responds:

    I hope the guy’s do get back sometime to investigate further.
    Not sure how big eel’s can get,but a few years ago my local newspaper printed photo’s of three 8ft monsters caught in a nearby river.

  8. Munnin responds:

    wuffing: “Could he kindly supply a reference for his information regarding British Columbian freshwater eels of that size – or indeed of any size?”

    Perhaps some eel or eels have been introduced to the lake. Some species such as Anguilla rostrata. Are there references to sightings of this phenomenon in Cameron lake prior to 2007?

  9. wuffing responds:

    Hi Munnin,
    I only have Williamson and Tabeta – Journal of Icthyology, 1991 to go on. I’m happy to wait for other scientific references from John Kirk.

  10. Richard888 responds:

    There is no strong indication that this is a biological form. It could very well be a wake phenomenon caused by some underwater force like maybe a row of methane bubbles that were triggered to well up at the same time through a fissure. If it was caused by the wind, much of the rest of the surface would have looked chaotic.

  11. scene responds:

    Just extra info from a layperson, I’ve visited this lake over a dozen times in the past 15 years, always in the summer and spent days swimming, snorkeling and water skiing. This lake is always cold and I believe there are much deeper parts in the lake than have been previously stated. At the far end of the lake, directly across from the camping and boat launch is a small sandbar and you can actually feel the cold mountain water streaming in to the lake when you stand on the sandbar. This lake is definitely fed from several sources, as most are, but I believe there could be some access to the lake from nearby rivers that could potentially introduce something in to the lake.

    (have read Crypto site for years)

  12. wuffing responds:

    Praetorian wrote “While Cameron Lake may not have a direct connection to the sea, something that was comfortable humping along short distances over land could no doubt find a way in.”

    Actually, it does. It is called the Little Qualicum River and flows 20 km down to the sea, dropping 184 metres. I doubt that anything would be humping its way into the lake though…

  13. wuffing responds:

    Go here to see why.

  14. dogu4 responds:

    The photo doesn’t do much to inform me. I do wish that they would not say it could not be a wake because there were no boats around, however. Wakes, like any wave, travel over distance and time and they can do so innocuosly until such time that meeting waves amplify/annihilate each other when they will seem to rise-up and make themselves evident. Also waves can be created by sources other than boats, such a underwater slumping creating a seiche wave, minor tectonic disturbance, turbulent turnover of stratified layers of water, gas accumulations erupting from mud, among others, including animals activity.
    I don’t mean to discourage the researchers on their goal but specific examples can be misleading when it is so tenuous and so likely to be misinterpreted when seen like this example. So, keep looking and collecting observations and perhaps a pattern will occur that will bring some more understanding into the picture.

  15. JMonkey responds:

    Yet another interesting picture with no clues as to what really lies beneath the surface. While I find it hard to believe that this is a sea monster, or lake monster in this case, I do not totally discount the possibility, but embrace it with the hope that some day we will all find that proof that we are so deperately longing for.

  16. krakatoa responds:

    Looks exactly like a wake.

    Just about every large body of water seems to have its own mythical creature stories. Is that evidence of lake-cryptids, or evidence that people have a tendency to create monsters out of mole-hills in an effort to explain what they cannot immediately identify?

  17. Isaiah responds:

    I enlarged This to twice the size, and, at that point, it definitely looked like a wake. But, a color inversion revealed that there is definitely something there, long, and somewhat serpentine in appearance, though, honestly, I doubt it’s a large serpent, since it’s in Cameron Lake. Perhaps a piece of driftwood, or a sturgeon?

  18. wuffing responds:

    You wrote “But, a color inversion revealed that there is definitely something there, long, and somewhat serpentine in appearance”

    How does this color inversion process work to reveal extra detail?

    Another question, does anyone know where on the lake the picture was taken, or the time of day, or if this is a full-frame or cropped image? Thanks.

  19. mystery_man responds:

    Wuffing- About the sterile eels. The notion that sterile eels could reach enormous sizes is really just a hypothesis. As far as I am aware, there is no in depth scientific study into this, and no real documentation of it actually occurring.

    In theory, it seems possible. Eels are catadromous, meaning they live in freshwater and journey to saltwater for breeding purposes. This is essentially the antithesis of anadromous species, such as salmon, that live in saltwater and come into freshwater to spawn. Often the adults of these types of animals, including eels, die off after mating due to the incredible energy demands and toll on their body. The idea is that an eel who was somehow unable to mate, or had somehow lost its drive to do so, could remain in one environment and put that energy towards getting bigger rather than mating. Without mating and dying off, it would be free to possibly keep growing and achieve potential sizes larger than its actively mating brethren.

    That’s the idea, but as far as I know it is not a very well understood or documented scientific fact at this time. Therefore, it is unlikely that you are going to find in depth, concrete confirmation in scientific journals outside of the hypothesis as used within cryptozoology.

    Anyway, as for what is pictured in this photo, I’m really not in any position to say it is anything other than a wake. I see no indication of it being from a biological organism. There is no way to tell, really, so for me a wake seems like a fairly rational conclusion at this point.

  20. wuffing responds:

    Mystery_man, thank you for your explanation. I wasn’t aware that eels actually “mated” or sometimes “were unable to mate”. Do you have any references for this?

    To get back to the original “what could it be?” we are told that the witness on the south shore of the 1/2 mile wide lake saw three things going round in a semi-circle.

    The published picture shows a single thing going in a straight line, with a background showing about 12 yards of shoreline and easily resolved individual leaves on the bushes.

    Am I alone in finding these data contradictory?

  21. mystery_man responds:

    Wuffing- I’m a little confused. Do you want references that eels in fact do spawn and create other eels? That freshwater eels are indeed catadromous and travel from freshwater to saltwater to spawn? Spawned, “mated,” procreated, have offspring, my wording was perhaps not the best here but I think you may perhaps understand what I mean. The spawning run from freshwater to sea takes a lot of energy, in this case it’s deadly. I hope this clarifies matters.

    I suppose there could be instances when eels would for some reason or other be unable or unwilling to spawn, for instance if they were sterile as the hypothesis states. Or perhaps if their route to the sea was blocked by man made or natural means, which would probably make spawning impossible for a catadromous organism. Perhaps the gigantic individuals in question have aberrant brain functioning that causes them to not have that drive to spawn. Obviously it would be a very rare occurrence if it happens at all, or we would have well documented cases of this happening all of the time.

    Like I said, there is likely no real study done on this, at least not that I’m aware of. We can only speculate on the reasons for why an eel would be sterile or unable to spawn somehow. I was merely trying to explain the thinking behind the “giant sterile eel” hypothesis and the lack of solid scientific studies done on this, which you requested references for.

  22. dogu4 responds:

    Pardon my intrusion, Mystery Man. I’m not sure exactly what whuffing is addressing specifically, though the “sterile giant eel” is an oversimplification of the concept. Check out the NYT’s science articles for the last week and there is some interesting news regarding recent findings on eels and their life patterns. Not to imply the the common eels (which turn out to be pretty extraordinary creatures) are in fact responsible for what would be sightings of giant eels, but the reproductive habits and strategies for eels, and quite a few other fish, are particularly interesting and often enough run counter-intuitive to what we’d expect, such as temperature of water and other environmental cues dictating the sex of the individual as opposed to simple double X or XY genetics. Similarly animal’s ultimate size is determined not by just a single “tall or short” genetic factor but by epigenetic factors that are not very well understood or studied even in animals with which we are familiar and of course that is by far the smallest fraction of all the animals out there.
    That during an animals long life it could for reasons beyond our current understanding be exposed to conditons of temperature or pressure or some other stress/signal to not shut down it’s growth controll and continue to grow to such a size that it might express an unsuspected and unobserved life pattern that over the eons has resulted in the creature’s being able to exploit a type of ecosystem that we might think today of as a refugia or lingering vestige of long gone earth, but we know in fact that our current intergalcial period is likely not going to last too much longer and once again the vast system of periglacial landscapes with cold silt and oxygen rich lakes, ideal for long inucbations and larval stages, will once again be far more common.
    Global climate change, ideed, with some surprising effects never witnessed before, which the european eels it seem do express to a limited degree regarding maturation.

  23. mystery_man responds:

    Dogu4- Thank you for the interesting comment as usual. You can intrude any time.

    I understand that there are a lot of factors, many of which are not well understood, that could lead to size variations within these species. I also find it fascinating how many factors are involved in the reproductive habits of eels and similar fish. What I was addressing is the “giant sterile eel” hypothesis as used in this article and within cryptozoology for the purposes of trying to come to an explanation for some lake monster sightings.

    This hypothesis is quite simple in a way. It merely posits that an eel that is not directing its energy towards spawning, and not dying off as a result, is perhaps going to grow larger. The reasons for this would be two-fold. Not only is it putting that energy it would have used in its journey towards gaining size, but it also is avoiding the fatal consequences of spawning, which might allow it to achieve a higher potential maximum size compared to other eels.

    I’m sorry if I seem to be oversimplifying things, but that is the main concept behind the hypothesis mentioned here. That is certainly not to say that other factors aren’t involved, and you bring up a lot of interesting research and avenues of inquiry. I am certainly not ignoring those things. I was just addressing the sterile eel hypothesis as it was being used here, and not trying to discount all of the things you mentioned.

    When the “giant sterile eel” hypothesis is brought up, it is typically looking at the one factor of the eels not spawning as a reason for the size increase. All of the other things you mentioned are valid, and add to the possibilities, however I was addressing just the factor of sterility as a component of large size gains in freshwater eels.

    Wuffing asked about it, so I felt compelled to illustrate it, although perhaps my explanation hasn’t been so well done. The point is, sterility in particular as a size factor was what I was touching on here, and it is not a well documented thing in eels at this point. I personally have my doubts as to whether it is involved to any degree with lake monsters. I actually am much more interested in other factors such as the ones you mentioned.

  24. wuffing responds:

    In the context of this thread about Cameron Lake I was only hoping that you would tell us in simple terms that “ no 12 foot sterile eels” of the Anguilla family have ever been seen, found or caught, and that their mere existence is not “poorly documented” but completely unsupported speculation.

    You wrote “The spawning run from freshwater to sea takes a lot of energy, …” but European simulations of 5500 km migration swims in Blazka tunnel experiments showed typical weight loss of only 5 (five) % over the 6 months long experiment.

    Similar experiments unfortunately cannot be carried out on freshwater eels from the Pacific North-West population because there aren’t any.

  25. dogu4 responds:

    I wonder, Mystery Man if the salamanders which I recall you mentioning was an area of particular focus for you, whether these honkin’ big salamanders’ reproductive strategies involve some of these kinds of enigmatic morphs. It seems in some ways those big salamanders which retain their externalized gills are expressing some kind of extended larval growth which correlates with their greater potential for growth in overall size and mass beyond what we normally expect for other amphibians.
    Thanks for an interesting discussion.

  26. mystery_man responds:

    Wuffing- Yes, 12 foot long eels are speculation. That is what I have been saying. Sterility as a factor for giganticism in eels is a hypothesis. I have stated here that there is no documentation of it actually occurring and it is not scientific fact. So I guess you could take that to mean that it is unsupported speculation, yes. My aim was to illustrate the thinking behind it.

    As for the Blazka tunnel experiments and the energy demands of eels, I’m aware of these. These experiments are designed to figure out just how eels can have such endurance and swim so far without eating. They are to study the mechanisms that allow eels to accomplish this feat, and not really for disputing the fact that eels die off due to the demands ultimately put on their bodies.

    I’m not sure which experiment you are referencing, but Blazka tunnel studies that I am aware of charted a great reduction in the body fat content of these eels during the course of their journey. In the study, a 30% drop in body fat content was recorded. When this was extrapolated for a 6,000 km journey, it was estimated that fat loss would be 60%. You must also remember that they need the energy not only to make the swim, but also to engage in actual spawning, for which only 40% of their fat reserves were available for. While the eels were able to show remarkable endurance and management of energy consumption, especially while not eating the whole time, the energy demands were still heavy. So the 5% weight loss figure you mention seems misleading.

    I’m not sure how relevant these Blazka tunnel studies are to this discussion anyway. The studies in this case are trying to figure out how eels manage the huge energy demands of this spawning journey, not to demonstrate that there are no or few serious energy demands. We are also still left with the fact that ultimately, after all is said and done, the eels do die off after spawning due to the demands put on them. This is something the Blazka experiments obviously don’t refute, and it is a big component to the “giant sterile eel” hypothesis we were discussing here.

    So in the context of this this thread, the hypothesis that sterile eels not making the spawning journey would not die and therefore perhaps grow bigger, the Blazka experiments have little relevance.

    I am not an adherent of this giant eel idea, I was just trying to explain it how it is applied in cryptozoology. As for the hypothesis that sterile eels would grow this large, yes it is speculation, and to my knowledge unsupported by scientific studies that could be referenced. I thought I had made that clear, so I apologize if it was not.

  27. wuffing responds:

    Good. It seems we agree that giant sterile eels are out of the running regarding PNW lake sightings, partly because there are no records of giant eels to get sterile, nor sterile eels to get giant, in fact, there are no eels at all in PNW lakes.

    Where do we go next in our discussion of the Cameron Lake phenomena?

  28. mystery_man responds:

    Wuffing- haha, not sure where to go on this one. I suppose we can rule out eel though. 🙂

    I also wanted to add that another problem I find with the “giant sterile eel” idea is that there have been eels that were observed to live to a ripe old age and they did not exhibit incredible spurts of monstrous growth. So although I can sort of see the thinking behind it, there just isn’t anything to demonstrate that this phenomenon actually happens. I would love it if someone here could reference us to a documented occurrence of it, but that really seems unlikely.

    Anyway, for the reasons you have mentioned and that we have been discussing, the eel hypothesis seems to be just reaching at straws in any case.

    I’m actually of the impression that what we see in the Cameron Lake footage is not biological at all. It looks to me to be a wave or wake. I also agree that what you pointed out with the shoreline before seems to be contradictory. I’d say that with what we have been presented with here so far, nothing is making me feel the need to consider this object as anything more than a wake.

  29. mystery_man responds:

    Dogu4- Sorry, I didn’t respond to you before. Yes, giant salamanders are a fascinating subject, but at the risk of getting too off topic, I won’t get into it too much here. Japanese Giant salamanders are indeed an area of focus for me, as are some other Japanese animal species, as I am involved in studying the effects of certain influences, in particular introduced or invasive species, on native Japanese creatures and their ecology.

    I would have to say that yes, neoteny in certain salamander species could possibly lead to increases in size under certain conditions. It could be an area of inquiry with some cryptids, although I don’t think it would pertain to the Lake Cameron monster.

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