Happy 35th Anniversary: The Mansi Champ Photograph

Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 5th, 2012

Today, 35 years ago, on July 5, 1977, Sandra Mansi snapped a photograph of what might be the Lake Champlain Monster (“Champ”).

© Sandra Mansi

Sandra Mansi’s encounter with this unknown object in the water took place on Tuesday, July 5, 1977. She and her fiancé Anthony Mansi, along with her two kids from a previous marriage, were taking a break during a drive around the lake. Mansi saw what she thought was a school of fish, then possibly a scuba diver. She took a photo, and keep it in a drawer for 3 years. Her family joked about it by calling it a “300 pound duck,” she told me. Finally, when asked about it, through a series of casual remarks to friends, it was Lake Champlain investigator Joseph Zarzynski, who would bring the image to light.

The Mansi photo has been called, by National Geographic, by experts, by cryptozoologists, the best photograph of a Lake Monster ever taken.

In my 1978 book with Jerome Clark, Creatures from the Outer Edge, I personally penned the add-on appendix, “Epilogue: 1977 – A Year Filled With Monsters.” In that ending chapter, I looked at the remarkably great number and maximum diversity in the reports of “high strangeness” of cryptids in that year. Now, 35 years later, we are experiencing one anniversary after the other, of the Dover Demon, of the Lafayette, Ohio black panther series, of the Little Eagle, South Dakota Bigfoot accounts, of the Lawndale, Illinois Thunderbird snatch, of several other incidents mentioned in my and Jerry Clark’s book, and, of course, the Mansi Champ photo. That year, 1977, was quite a twelve months.

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.

11 Responses to “Happy 35th Anniversary: The Mansi Champ Photograph”

  1. gorilin responds:

    My homage to that photograph,which together with Rhines’ 1975 underwater photograph of the whole body of Nessie, are the only two legitimate photographs that prove the existence of lake monsters.

  2. cryptokellie responds:

    I have been waiting for over 55 years for conclusive “evidence” of lake monsters and the Rhines and Mansi photos prove that there are very interesting and even unusual things in both Loch Ness and Lake Champlain but do not prove the existence of said lake monsters.

    Please don’t misunderstand, I would dearly love for there to be such creatures alive, well and dwelling in the deep lakes of the world and I still believe, as I did as a young boy, that somewhere they do exist. But real proof is just that-real proof…a body, a very clear and lengthy video or series of sharp, referenced photographs will be the evidence required.

    The same goes for Bigfoot, Yeti and all the rest. But I have not yet given up hope that someday, the needed conclusive proof will be finally collected.

  3. corrick responds:

    Think you switch your hopes to something like the orang pendek. Much better roi, imho.

  4. cryptokellie responds:

    I agree completely…although I wonder just how “cyptic” the Orang-Pendek will turn out to be, once found and identified. Out of place chimpanzee, sub-species orangutan or…?

    BTW…the most interesting item in the Champlain box of “evidence” to me are the echo-location clicks heard and recorded in the lake. Solid evidence but, of what? I have been to Lake Champlain a couple times both in New York and Vermont. Didn’t see anything, but it is one hell of a lake.

  5. dconstrukt responds:

    lol… sorry folks… while the photo is really interesting… and looks like it COULD be something alive… what else could it be?

    a tree? something else.

    I mean… in 35 years no one else has been able to get a solid photo?

    What are we in 1890?

    just strikes me as VERY odd.

    Its 2012… we can see thermal… in the dark… send a man to the moon… go to the depths of the ocean (thanks james cameron)…

    and yet… you’re telling me we can’t get a solid photo or evidence champ is real?

  6. corrick responds:

    Seems like we are on the same page. For over a decade I’ve written that my best guess is the Orang-pendek is some close relative or sub-species of the orangutan that has evolved to live on the jungle floor.
    As for Champ? About as likely as Nessie, imho.

  7. gorilin responds:

    Cressie is a giant eel, the lake Iliamma monster is a big white sturgeon, as in some lakes in Siberia. But Nessie,Champ and Ogopogo go far beyond that. People don’t see an inverted boat, or an anaconda-like creature, they see a long neck and one or two humps. Rhines was the only monster hunter who led an underwater search, and he brought eternal evidence. We are in 2012, and no one, not even James Cameron, dare to go inside Loch Ness. Why?, I don’t know, Cousteau didn’t either. MAYBE WE SHOULD STOP CALLING THEM MONSTERS, AND BRING THEM INTO REALITY. I’m sure Sandra Mansi does not lie, and that’s not driftwood. Tourism is one thing, an unknown creature is another.

  8. marcodufour responds:

    Gorilin i have to agree with you particularly about Loch Ness, i have a friend who lives on the shores of Ness in the village of Dores, her and her sister saw something very close up which was horse headed and close enough to see the water droplets on it, it took her ages to trust me enough to tell me as most people sadly take the proverbial without knowing any of the evidence. Robert Rhines photos were also fascinating as they used sonar cameras which reacted and confirmed two large objects moving into the sonar`s range when the fish moved away ( which to me is possible evidence of a predator ) If it was surface photography taken by someone expecting a creature then it is potentially more dubious, but machines have no expectations or personal interests as of course they are only machines.

  9. gorilin responds:

    Yes,sir.That´s why many scientist don´t trust Tim Dinsdale´s film.For me it´s real,but for others it is not.The fact is that there have been so many hoaxes,beginning with the surgeon´s photograph,that most peolple think everything is a hoax.I think that with only the fingers of one hand you can count the trustworthy monster hunters.Rhines,Mackal,Kirk,Le Blonde and someone else.I don´t know why,but the horse-like head brings me Caddy to mind,Paul H Le Blonde has devoted most of his professional life to it´s study,and it could be the creature that hids inside many lakes.

  10. marcodufour responds:


    I personally think the Dinsdale film is indeed real, he was a very educated man and sent it off to the Air Reconnasaince unit to be looked at, not likely if it was a hoax. The surgeon photos I believe are real too, there were two photos and the 2nd less famous one was obviously not an unbending head on a submarine but looked flexible such as a real creature would have, also I believe it was Paul Leblond who worked on the wave height and said the neck was around 4 ft tall?

    I always found the easy acceptance of a supposed death bed confession from Christian Spurling as far too easy, the same as the media reporting that x,y and z person wore the suit for the Patterson footage, all too pat and too easily accepted without question.


  11. gorilin responds:


    I’ve made a video to show my respect to two of the best Nessie hunters in history.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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