Lake Merritt Monster

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 12th, 2007

Ginny Prior, The Town Crier of California’s Contra Costa Times talks in her column of January 12, 2007, about the "Beast [that] dwells in [the] murky waters of Lake Merritt."

She writes:

I’ve always suspected something was lurking, just below the murky green surface. Now it’s been confirmed — Oakland’s Lake Merritt has a monster. Like Scotland’s Loch Ness and Lake Champlain’s Champ, this creature eludes all but the most vigilant observers.

Richard Bailey, the resident expert, has seen the great head of the beast — with its glowing red eyes and spiked horns.

"It’s got six or seven humps like you’d see on the Loch Ness," he proclaims, adding that the creature measures more than 10 feet in length. Frightening? You bet! But Bailey says it’s also a tourist attraction, if you don’t get too close. He’s sent out a letter to the City Council asking that the creature be protected as an endangered species.

But this has been an ongoing joke for a few years. Why does Bailey keep pushing this story?

He tried to pepper the media with sightings of a six-foot-alligator he called the Lake Merritt Monster in 2003.

Lake Merritt Monster

During a past Halloween, the artists group Nonchalance used these stories to float the above Lake Merritt Monster in the lake. Concurrently, the event was announced via their website that claimed the serpent-like creature was unnoticeably trapped in Lake Merritt, after the marsh was sealed into a lake in 1869.

Dr. Richard Bailey is the executive director of the Lake Merritt Institute, his own creation to save the wetlands of this "lake." Bailey has noted in past interviews: "Lake Merritt is known as the first waterfowl refuge in the United States dating back to 1869 or 1870 I think it was. It predates Yosemite in that regard."

Lake Merritt is a unique "lake," an inlet of San Francisco Bay shut off from the ocean in 1869, but still remains salt water.

Perhaps Bailey should appreciate the importance of what it is he is trying to protect and leave this cryptozoological hoax out of it. If I’m not understanding something here about why he wants to go to his city council about this, I hope he or someone in his group enlightens me.

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.


8 Responses to “Lake Merritt Monster”

  1. busterggi responds:

    Sounds as though Mr. Bailey used to work for the Johor Tourist Bureau.

    If there is something cryptid in Lake Merritt there’s a dearth of reports, I’ve never heard of it before.

  2. mark z responds:

    can it be? maybe, maybe not, no evidence? no picture, just hype?

  3. mystery_man responds:

    This lake is not by any means remote and out of the way. This is a pretty populated area and I just cannot see how a creature with “glowing red eyes” and “a horned head” could be staying hidden for so long. Especially a breeding population which is what would have to be the case unless this thing has been lurking for 138 years. I think it would be a better use of energy to focus on saving the waterfowl that live here rather than to rally for protection of a very unlikely underwater monster.

  4. SanFranSquatcher responds:

    1) I lived next to (1 block from) Lake Merritt for 7 years up until about 1 year ago. I walked around it often & have spent many hours observing the lake & it’s fauna. I have watched flocks of brown pelicans dive for fish. I have watched cormorants chase fish through the shallow waters. I have even seen salmon in the lake (which connects directly to the bay.) A few years ago, sharks were reported in Lake Merritt, which are hardly monsters.

    2) The water of Lake Merritt is NOT murky, except after storms, when all the turbulence of the water from the storm drains have stirred things up.

    3) The lake is actively used by the public for boating. It’s a great place to learn to sail. They also have very active rowing clubs, as well as occasional big events.

    4) Lake Merritt is also not very deep. How do we know it’s not deep? Well, for several years, there has been a Gondola business on the lake. Gondolas, as boats propelled by use of pushing long poles in the bottom of the lake.

    I think we can safely put this silly story to bed.

  5. jhw1701 responds:

    I’ve lived just outside Oakland my entire life and there have been a few infrequent stories people claiming something is in the water. But as SanFranSquatcher points out the lake connects to the bay so a leopard shark or seal may wander in from time to time and confuse someone who doesn’t know any better. The only interesting story I’ve ever heard was from sometime in the early 80’s, or maybe late 70’s, about a swimmer who disappeared in the lake and was never found.

  6. chetvaldes responds:

    FYI,
    the lake is connected to the bay through an underground canal and automatic control gates that open during high tides to allow some circulation of ‘fresh’ salt water, but close to prevent the lake from becoming an unsightly mud hole during low or minus tides. Thus it is closer to being a lagoon than a lake.

  7. NCRYPTID responds:

    I always seem to have issues with reports of “glowing red eyes”.

  8. RockerEm responds:

    Anything is possible but in this case I sure do lean more towards this being a big hoax.




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