Media and Others Take Closer Look At “Champ Video”

Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 3rd, 2009

[June 4th ~ UPDATE: Please click here to view a new stabilization of the video.]

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

This story is breaking on many fronts.

Some intriguing visual insights are becoming visible with enhancements of the “Champ video.” This footage first came to the attention of Cryptomundo, and then was shared with you and the world on Monday, June 1, 2009.

Let’s take a look at some of these new imagery and media revelations.

For starters, the name and more details about the man who captured the footage are now known. On June 3, 2009, the Burlington, Vermont Free Press published the first media article about the incident. Staff writer Sam Hemingway, who interviewed me the day before, penned the initial results of his journalistic investigation. (The print edition has incorrectly spelled my name and shortened a couple of my comments, thus changing their meanings. Therefore, I have corrected these errors in the following online version, specifically regarding those points – see bracketed edits.)

“I was just filming the water when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move, and I turned toward it and tried to zoom in on it,” said Olsen, a Web site developer and musician.

“You can see that it is moving both horizontally, across the water, and vertically, going under the surface and coming back up,” he said. “It struck me as something that was long, that it didn’t have much girth.”

The reporter talks of it being on YouTube and getting lots of hits, then continues:

Loren Coleman a cryptozoologist based in Portland, Maine, said what Olsen filmed with his phone is the best [moving] photographic evidence to date of what residents on both sides of Lake Champlain prefer to call “Champ.”

“We need to figure out what is going on here,” Coleman said. “The film needs to have a formal forensic analysis performed … to break it down frame by frame. It needs to be looked at very seriously.” Cryptozoology is the study of purportedly nonexistent or mythical creatures. [Cryptozoology is actually the study of as-yet-unverified new animals, hidden animals, and to-be-recovered “extinct” animals. ~ Loren]

Above is the famed “Champ” photograph taken in 1977 by Sandra Mansi, who was having a picnic on the lake with her family.

Sam Hemingway contacted Mansi, and wrote:

Mansi, now 66, viewed Olsen’s video Tuesday and said there were similarities — and differences — between what she saw in 1977 and what is depicted in Olsen’s footage.

“I see the shape of the head, how big it is,” she said, comparing her photo and the video. “The only thing I have a hard time with is the neck. It doesn’t look long enough for me. … Whatever he saw has a link to what I saw. Tell him, ‘Welcome to the club.’”
Coleman said the object’s movements and size ruled out the chance it was a beaver, moose or some other more common mammal. Instead, both speculated it might be some unknown species of seal with an unusually long neck.

“There’s lots of things that it could be,” Coleman said. “It’s just as interesting to me if all it is is an out-of-place harbor seal [if it is not an unknown species].”

Ellen Marsden, a biology professor at the University of Vermont, said she thinks the object is not a seal but possibly a young moose in distress.

“Fish or aquatic species rarely move that slowly in the water,” Marsden said. “It did not look like a creature that was comfortable in water. It was swimming as if something was seriously wrong.” She also said seals don’t swim with their backs out of the water.

Olsen said he never saw the object emerge from the lake. He said he stopped filming after two minutes because the phone’s memory capacity was limited and he was afraid of losing what he had filmed. He said he stayed at the park for another half hour before leaving.

There have been several alleged sightings of “Champ” on Lake Champlain over the years, but few were accompanied by any photographic substantiation.

The article, “Champ Mystery Grows,” was a frontpage story in the paper’s Wednesday edition, and propelled the news into the mainstream media. See the site for the full article.

Meanwhile, overnight, images are turning up from the “Champ video,” assisting in a closer look at this footage.

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

At this point, because it is an “unknown,” at the least, it is a “lake cryptid.”

A German site has posted a video capture, too.

Ogopogo researcher/filmmaker Sean Viloria has forwarded the following enhanced enlargements of the clips from the footage. Please click on them to bring them up on your screen into a larger size.

Thusfar, the only image especially tied to the Lake Champlain Monster has been the Sandra Mansi photograph.

But now, along comes this footage. And it is interesting.

Please note, if video’s embedding has been disabled, find the video here.

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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.

40 Responses to “Media and Others Take Closer Look At “Champ Video””

  1. Mark Wallbank responds:

    Well, now im seeing a deer of some sort….until i get to the 3rd photo, and the head changes shape. Im assuming the shape change is due to it turning its head to the left or right. Great stills though, they show quite a bit more than you get from the video. Still cant figure out that thing trailing behind it though. Perhaps its an escaped farm animal that was tied up to a rope and a wooden peg/stake, that got loose and headed for freedom, dragging its rope and peg behind it? hhhmm..

  2. swnoel responds:

    The marker bouy clearly shows a shallow shoal, which I can assume is the reason we see so much of the animal initially.

    My guess is that it’s walking along the bottom and then reaches deeper water.
    The trailing wake of the swimming animal gives the illusion that it’s longer than it realy is.

    It also looks as though the animal is quite exhausted and appears to be having a difficult time keeping its head above water.

    Definitely a land mammal taking a shortcut through the lake, rather than around it.

    Highly probable that it IS a deer.

  3. Lorenzo Rossi responds:

    I see a deer too…

    1) The video start with the animal above the surface and finish with the animal above the surface. The animal never submerge completely.

    2) The animal swims towards the shore. If the video had not “mysteriously” stopped (while the animal is still visible), we would have seen the deer leave the water.

    3) The animal is at ease in water like a fish up a tree. It don’t swims as a marine organism, but as a terrestrial mammal.

  4. Loren Coleman responds:

    This now is a greatly revised posting, “Media and Others Take Closer Look At ‘Champ Video’” of early June 3rd.

  5. TiBot responds:

    I am confused by the number of times the animal appears to stop swimming. To me that means the animal is tired, indicates that swimming is not this creatures natural mode of transportation. T4, this is no lake monster.

  6. Fhqwhgads responds:

    It looks to me like a log pulled through the water. What really bothers me is that the angle between the “neck” and “back” never seems to change, whether the “head” is coming up or going down. It looks completely stiff — like a log. The changes in shape of the “head” may simply be to changes in orientation of the log.

    I would be happy for this to be a deer, but (in addition to the stiffness) the “back” seems too long for the “neck”.

  7. Buckeyes1 responds:

    The head looks too blunt to be a deer to me however I can buy the “young moose” hypothesis. It definitely looks like a terrestrial animal swimming in the water and not a serpent or plesiosaur. I agree that its swimming motions seem to indicate a land animal tiring or struggling to stay afloat. However, that being said, when it approaches to near shore towards the end of the video it doesn’t seem too interested in coming ashore.

    I will be interested in seeing where this all goes in the coming days…

  8. Colpittsdragon responds:

    I’m very surprised at this video. I’ve been following the story, but didn’t want to comment until I knew more (especially about the mysterious way the video cut out). After reading all the revised posts, watching the footage over and over again, and comparing it to the moose/deer/beaver I have to say that I think this is a legitimate USC (unidentified swimming creature). Whether or not it’s truly Champ remains to be seen.

    I don’t think it’s a moose or deer because if the witnesses statement is to be believed (and from the fact that he’s not looking for publicity, I’d venture to say that he should be) then he would definitely have seen it coming out of the water. Plus if you look at a moose, or a deer’s back you will note that the backs are swayed (or at least, not arched) so even if the creature were walking on the bottom it’s back wouldn’t curve up above the water as it clearly does in the video. Beavers don’t have necks that long, so that rules that out, in my opinion.

    Definitely not anything I’ve ever seen, even if it’s not Champ it’s still a cryptid in ever sense of the word.

  9. Wiseman responds:

    It’s good to keep a skeptical mind sometimes, but I don’t agree with you TiBot. If it was trying to go to the other shore it would not have stopped like this, even if it was tired.

    The fact that it stops looks TO ME as if it was not the least in a hurry and on top of that, if my memory is good, deer and moose only, or almost only, show their heads when swiming. And deer and moose are good swimmers. My father, while hunting, actually saw a moose swim across a river, at least a hundred meters across, and all that without the animal looking disturbed at all by the current.

  10. dwindell responds:

    It’s a moose, simply put, any other speculation would be folly.

  11. Ferret responds:

    It’s an interesting video, and the stills also add to the enigma. I have two statements to make: toward the beginning of the footage, the back of the animal seems to grow, is this just the natural movement of the water, or could this be a leg? Also if it was a young land mammal swimming in distress, is it possible that it ran out of energy and drowned? Could that be why it was never seen emerging from the lake?

  12. Kitsos responds:

    I do not think it is a Moose/Deer either. The way it moves is completely different. For one thing most animals do not arch their back while swimming and try to keep their head as far above the water as possible, something that becomes even more exaggerated when they tire out. This “creature” allows a much larger part of its back out of the water and apart from the point where it raises it’s head and appears to look around, the head is kept very close to water level. Plus the head size seems wrong for a Moose/Deer compared tot eh body…unless it was constantly swimming in one direction while looking at 90 degrees away in another.
    What would help is to know the depth of the water there, like someone pointed out there is a marker of sorts indicating shallows. This should not be too hard to find if the location is known and someone has a map showing depths. If it was shallow enough for it to walk then that would change things.

  13. Ursawolf responds:

    I respectfully disagree with biologist Marsden, quoted in the article as saying this is possibly a young moose in distress. A land mammal “in distress” would be thrashing and struggling to stay afloat. Likewise, I see no rhythmic motion due to leg movement that would indicate a swimming land mammal. If a four-legger stops moving its legs, it begins to sink. I find this video interesting because the creature is moving slowly–to me, it looks very comfortable and at ease in the water. Of course, my comments about leg movements are invalidated if the water there is shallow enough to touch bottom.

  14. odingirl responds:

    Going to have to agree with swnoel on this subject. It definitely does not appear to be an animal that is comfortable in water, appears to be a mammal, and in confirmation, most likely a deer or young moose (or, given the portrait of the face, even a calf, as in beef). I also suspect that given the animal’s struggles in the water, what appears to be a long trailing ‘body’ or tail is actually just the wake kicked up by this thing, which appears to be a fairly poor swimmer.

    Interestingly, the Mansi photo has never appeared to be anything other than a log to me, no matter how many times I look at it….a very static object rather than an animate creature….but that’s another can of worms. Thanks for all of the updates, Loren.

  15. shumway10973 responds:

    Actually, the first couple enhancements make me wonder about this whole thing. The neck is attached to the head in a bizarre manner, almost “built”. He never saw it get out of the water…I am sorry to say this, but I would have watched this thing to see what came out of the water, or if it ever did. By built I am saying hoax. Not that the filmer is necessarily apart of it, but its movements and its proportions are “off”. Just doesn’t seem “natural”, whether someone is swimming (I guess they’d have to be scuba diving), or this is a motorized toy (a robotic head mounted on a radio controlled sub). I dunno, it just doesn’t seem “real”. The speed of the creature could be due to the added weight of the head mechanism. I really don’t want to say this isn’t real, but something just screams fake to me.

  16. shumway10973 responds:

    By the way folks, all the hooved animals you can think of have enormous ears…they would have shown in the video. This thing does not have ears (or super small ones). Deer, Moose and even Cattle have huge ears.

  17. vqsnapp responds:

    If its a moose, where is the hump? I see absolutely no hump in any of those closeups, also ears..looking at the videos Loren posted in the previous thread with animals swimming, moose have very pronounced ears that are very hard to miss.

    I don’t know what this creature is, but I am having a very hard time seeing any resemblance to a moose.

  18. Seamus responds:

    After viewing this, and especially in light of the stop-start action of the very stiff “beast,” I’d like to suggest another possibility entirely: our videographer didn’t zoom in because it might reveal a remotely-controlled fake.

    Otherwise, I’m betting moose.

  19. Roy3rd responds:

    I think it’s a very large otter. Champlain has tons of them and they frequently swim with their backs above the water line.

  20. gavinf responds:

    To me, this is a fascinating video. Not only because of what it shows, but the differing conclusions drawn regarding it.

    For me, it’s the real deal. But, some of the arguments against it are compelling. Still, I see it this way:

    The creature does not appear to me to be in any sort of distress. On the contrary, it seems quite at home in the water. Yes, it stops, then goes down, then back up again. But the way it simply sinks, then comes back up, and later part of the back of the creature rises seemingly at ease quite far from the head and neck, indicates to me a greater flexibility than a land mammal like a deer or moose.

    The argument that the animal is moving close to shore when the video ends and therefore is a land-based animal is not proof of anything, other than it was moving towards land.

    Suppose it comes close to shore, than moves away. And the very end of the video seems to show it beginning to follow the shoreline, not try and reach it. Also, if Champ, or whatever it is, is a mammal, why couldn’t it come to shore, if only briefly?

    I’m quite excited about this. It is a relatively clear video, no shaking, no “blobbing”, and no apparent reason for hoaxing. No unnecessary commentary or attempt to build up the video.

    Finally, we deserve an actual video sighting from time to time, right?! 🙂

  21. odingirl responds:

    shumway10973, in retrospect, I think you may be on to something. There is an artificiality in the animal’s stop-and-go movement that is troubling, and combined with the awkward head/neck/back anatomy and the convenient lack of witnessing the animal leave the water, it leaves far more questions than it answers. I’d like to think that anything is possible, and it is, but in this case it’s beginning to look at least a little dubious.

    Unfortunately, just because someone has no apparent reason to fabricate something does not mean they haven’t….humans are perhaps the strangest creatures of all and their motives are sometimes complex, sometimes surprisingly simple….

  22. Dr. Strings responds:

    Doesn’t look natural or animate at all. Looks like a hoax to me.

  23. cryptidsrus responds:

    I also have to agree with the take that, whatever this is, it does NOT appear to be in distress.


    The head does not move like a moose should. If this IS a young moose, it has to be the weirdest-shaped moose ever recorded.

    The “humps” in the background do not appear to be wakes.
    Like I said before—it could be a deer, but even that does not account for the all the movements recorded.

    I have to say probably a “cryptid.”
    I wonder what Mystery_Man thinks of this? Don’t be shy, Brent!!! 🙂

  24. Seamus responds:

    My apologies to shumway10973–I didn’t see your post about a remote before I posted my own!

    odingirl–I think, though it’s certainly a roundabout way to seek publicity, it’s at least possible that our videographer, who appears to be in a band in Burlington and does web design, could have a reason to seek his own weird 15 minutes. He may well be on the level, but the graphic that goes with their song “Waterlanding” is at least an interesting coincidence in relation to this sighting.

  25. cryptidsrus responds:

    I have to say this, BTW:


    “It’s a moose, simply put, any other speculation would be folly.”

    Really??? Care to elaborate how you know that???

    Do you know something about it that proves definitively it is a moose? 😉

  26. swnoel responds:

    Take a look at this video clip of an “ocean swimming deer.”

    What do you think?

    See any similarities?

  27. Gothic_Thylacine responds:

    Personally, I see absolutely nothing moose like about this creature.

    1st & foremost as mentioned, the ears. The only hint of any ears I see is in the 2nd enhanced frame. & they are very tiny.

    2nd as also mentioned, the back. It’s arched up & that seems unlikely unless the water is shallow enough (which is possible!)

    3rd is the head shape. Granted it’s blury but it just plain does not look like a moose head to me. Now I would say MAYBE a deer but again there’s a the ear issue.

    If this is indeed any kind of land mammal I would actually guess a dog! This is just a semi educated guess on my part, but I base it on the head shape. The problem with that is again the back….pretty much any swimming land animal won’t expose much of it back like this critter…..but again as I mentioned if the water is shallow enough it may be possible.

    (forgive me for repeating so much lol)

    And since it does seem to sink at several points, either it hits deeper water or is just floating & submerging randomly in steady deep water.

    Well, to me anyway this is still a “yet unidentified ” But if I HAD to vote for a known critter I’d say possible dog. But I’m still leaning towards an unknown 😉

    Who knows we may be surprised in the end 🙂
    Thanks for keeping us updated Loren!!

  28. Averagefoot responds:

    Looks to me like a tired dog that swam out farther than he should have.

  29. afeeney responds:

    Could it be a large dog of some kind? The fairly short head suggests a dog’s muzzle.

  30. red_pill_junkie responds:

    If it’s a moose/deer, I don’t see any ears, or horns.

    The shape of the head in the close-up is weird. of course, we have to take into account the distortion that comes from enlarging a low-pixel image.

    I think there’s a question in most of us’ minds: Just how shallow is the lake in that area? Are there any sandbars where a land animal could stand so a part of it’s back could be visible?

    PS: I tried to look at the video one more time, and I got this “embedded disabled by request” message 🙁

  31. TimmyRyan65 responds:

    I agree with the previous poster who said the thing looked “built”. In fact I will go one step further and ask all of you to pay close attention to the head, neck & upper chest area as it submerges and emerges from the water. nothing moves. It is like watching a submarine periscope go up and down in the water. No Movement At All!! None!

    I bet this is a hoax along the lines of those two boys in the movie JAWS that are snorkeling with the fake shark fin. I agree the thing in the water is struggling but not like a live animal would but struggling because whoever is underneath it is trying to manipulate it in the water. As for whether or not the person filming this is in on it could be another story but like the previous poster said why didn’t the person watch it until it hit shore or try to investigate more?

    Just my 2 cents!

  32. MattBille responds:

    Can’t make a call on this yet…. we need some data.

    How deep is the water at this point, and how high does that post or piling stand out of the water? What’s the diameter of the piling?

  33. Mark Wallbank responds:

    Well, Im sticking firm with my floating model being raised and submerged via a long trailing air hose theory.
    After all the analysis so far, thats still what it looks like to me.

  34. illlich responds:

    The problem I have with making any kind of judgment about what the creature may be, is that all WE have is this lo-res video. Olsen shot it, and presumably got a better look at the creature using his actual eyes, and he doesn’t seem to know what it is. Being from VT I’m sure he has seen deer and moose (and dogs) before, and (unless he is being misleading) does not recognize it as any of these.

    I admit in the first few seconds it does appear to be a deer or moose struggling slowly through the water, but according to Olsen it never came up on land (which it would if it were as tired as we assume), plus later in the video it appears far longer than any moose, and seems to leave an odd wake the entire time (the wake looks like what would come from something moving faster than this, OR from some kind of inefficient propeller).

    I like his apparent laugh of disbelief after he zooms in. I would go with hoax (with Olsen as the victim, not perpetrator) before I would call it a dog/deer/moose. So it’s either a hoax or some other unidentified animal (and I’m not buying beaver/otter/seal either as yet). However, Olsen shot this in the early AM on a Sunday– what hoaxer is going to go through all that trouble for a time of day when there might not be anyone around to witness the hoax? It is possible, and my hat is of to some dedicated hoaxers in that case.

    I’m taking Olsen at his word that the creature did not come up on land, otherwise I would lean towards moose.

  35. Richard888 responds:

    I watched the video one more time. I also read the comments under the threads of this topic and respectfully disagree with the two more popular hypotheses: A) known mammal (deer/moose/otter); B) built object.

    I definitely see a living creature but not a vertebrate! The creature seems to display slug-like characteristics that allow it to alter the shape of its head, change the length of its neck and possibly form humps when it contracts its body.

    So as a result of this video I am formulating a new theory that large lake cryptids, like Nessie or Champ, if real, are actually gigantic slugs and not air breathing cold/warm blooded vertebrates like long-necked seals or plesiosaurs. This theory would solve the problem of how large creatures can live in cold, low-in-plankton lakes since they could be sedimentary feeders.

    Ha ha, actually I just noticed a picture of such a creature to the right of Cryptomundo… see the green photo beside the binoculars and Bigfoot? This theory is more consistent with the facts than conventional explanations 🙂

  36. springheeledjack responds:

    Said it before…this critter, whatever it is, is not in distress, but appears to be just enjoying the day…moving in a lazy, not in a hurry kind of way…I see no thrashing or actions by the creature to suggest that it is struggling to stay afloat…more that it appears to be just checking out the water around it…for food???

  37. Phantomgrift responds:

    I lived ten years in Alaska and the very nature of that footage doesnt strike me in any way, shape or form of any moose I ever saw, either in or out of the water.

    That and when one directs their attention away from strictly the head in the longer clip, two prominent points trail the “head” hinting at the possibility of a longer body mass underwater. Would I say that it’s Champ? I’m not sure.
    Would I definitely say I’ve never seen anything remotely like it? Most assuredly.

  38. dimestore responds:

    I’m going to agree with Roy3rd. Otter. watch some otter videos. I found this one. Check out the action at 1 min. 30.. I think it seems pretty similar.

  39. illlich responds:

    Wow– kudos to richard888– “large slug” is an interesting idea.

  40. cryptomaniac responds:

    It looks to me in the video like an animal swimming and sometimes walking. The first still enlargement looks to me like the profile of a pitbull terrier with maybe a white spot on its chest. The second still enlargement looks like an elongated body with the head of a ferret or type of weasel and the third looks kind of like a slightly bent finger. And with all the differences of opinion on this one, its like when the phyciatrist hands you a card and asks “What do you see?” Because of all the different opinions I think it shows that the video just isn’t clear enough to be conclusive as to what it is or might be…Another one of those what is it or what do you think it is mystery vids.

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