June 4, 2009

Latest News on Olsen “Champ Video”

There is news.

I have been sent a new stabilized version of the Eric Olsen “Champ video.” It was produced by John Donald Carlucci of Darke Media.

Next, here is a new enhancement of the video by impossiblevisits.

Eric Olsen removed and disabled the embedding of his video from YouTube to other sites, unfortunately, on Wednesday night. Also, he closed comments at YouTube. You can still see his video at YouTube.

If past history is any guide, cryptid filmmaker Eric Olsen ~ who has made no claims that what he taped is “Champ” ~ is feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the attention. Also, as has even been demonstrated here, people can be very critical, debunking, and not too open-minded in their approach to looking at any new photo or footage. Folks interested in cryptozoology want, for instance, footage of lake cryptids, of course, but as soon as someone innocently says that an unusual “something” was taped in a loch or lake, people rush in to see who can be the first to say it was a tree, hoax, moose, or whatever. The truth is, no one knows what this one is.

How about some information from someone a bit closer to all of what is happening? A correspondent of Cryptomundo has forwarded a long and thoughtful comment:

I live a quarter of a mile from Oakledge Park in Burlington and swim / walk the dog / run there often. I know where the spot from which this was filmed. The water there is typically 8 – 20′ feet deep, and in fact is deeper now as the lake water level is elevated due to recent heavy rain. Water depth charts will bear this out. There is nothing for the animal to walk on – unless it has extremely long legs and is at least 10′ tall.

The person who posted the video is not a publicity hound and in fact already seems to regret having posted the video. He is very well known and respected in our small city, runs a successful business, and this association with “Champ” might only make him look silly.

It was very cool he shared this so we can make our own judgements.

Knowing the individual who filmed this, I can say with 100% certainty it is not a hoax he created. Also, there is no place on shore where a trickster could be towing a fake monster without revealing themselves, due to lack of cover.

It is a mysterious “thing” moving through the water to shore. Could be a moose, deer, dog, log, etc. Personally, I don’t think it looks like any of those things. But I don’t believe in Champ, either….

Still, this is an interesting video of a very strange creature.
E. Shepard

Meanwhile, the media mentions and web interest continue to increase attention, questions, curiosity, and sometimes ridicule, as opposed to understanding and support to someone who is essentially an eyewitness. It appears Eric Olsen is withdrawing a bit, but it is hard to hide in the world covered by the Internet. This may be especially true if you are the one who placed the primary evidence on YouTube initially.

Let’s just hope Mr. Olsen doesn’t disappear with his footage. There appears to be much we can learn from these phonecam images.

Here is a rundown of other news concerning developments or notable quotes about the May 31st phonecam footage of the seemingly animate object, seen near the shoreline of Lake Champlain, Vermont.

David Pescovitz’s posting at Boing Boing carries news of the video, including a mention of Cryptomundo’s reporting on this, which means the info will be copied and disseminated even more widely.

On Tuesday night, June 2, the Olsen video had registered 3,068 views at YouTube, but had jumped to nearly 42,000 views by Wednesday night, June 3.

The Burlington Free Press article, “Champ Mystery Grows” was the number one news item being read on their website yesterday, June 3rd, getting 11% of all readers to the online newspaper.

I have learned directly from The Burlington Free Press reporter Sam Hemingway that he has spoken to the State of Vermont’s moose specialist. The state’s moose expert says he is “convinced it is not a young moose,” but he’s “not sure what it is.”

“Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman will be interviewed about the new Champ video, Thursday, June 4th,” on the morning radio news show at 98.9 WOKO, Burlington, Vermont.

The “Champ story” is getting big play on the Northeast’s television stations. Some of the unique reporting even includes one well-known skeptic supposedly moving into the cryptozoology camp, which I’m sure was a big surprise to the lake-monsters-are-otters proponent when he read of his new label. 🙂

“Joe Nickell, a cryptozoologist in Amherst, N.Y., says his best guess is that the object was a moose calf.” ~ NECN

Mr. Nickel, of course, is hardly a cryptozoologist.

It is widely acknowledged that Nickel is a former stage magician and a prominent skeptical investigator of the “paranormal” (which to Nickel includes cryptozoology). He is a member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and a writer for Skeptic Inquirer.

To have the AP label him a “cryptozoologist” certainly seems like a case of a wolf dressing in sheep’s clothing.

“The video features almost two minutes of what appears to be a brontosaurus-like sea monster loafing off the shores of Oakledge Park near Burlington.” ~ WPTZ

“Olsen is reluctant to call the sighting ‘Champ’.
A biologist at UVM thinks it may have just been a moose in distress.
Another scientist says the video does appear to be legitimate.” ~ WCAX

“WPTZ reporter Heater Van Arsdel reports that some people have more reasonable explanations for the sighting. Reaction from the public has been mixed. Many want to believe that it is mysterious lake monster, but they suggest that it looks like a baby moose or a large dog.” – “Many Skeptical About Champ Sighting in Vermont” ~ WPTZ

The region’s other large newspaper ran an article about the video on Thursday, June 4th. It says, in part:

Olsen doesn’t have a listed phone number.

He asked YouTube users if anyone else was in the park and saw the creature.

“Was anyone else out and about around Oakledge on Sunday just after sunrise who saw this as well?”

But after 73 postings, mostly from people who think he saw Champ, Olsen disabled YouTube’s commenting capability for his video.

A comment poster using the name “talkinglake” was enthusiastic about the video.

“Looks Champ-like to me! And some who have seen such sights in the past were alarmed that our creature had died, but maybe life lives on! Yay. Cool vid.”

Some users commented that Olsen had only joined YouTube on May 16 and had posted just three other videos.

But by early Wednesday, there had been more than 36,000 viewings of the video, which Olsen named “Strange sighting on Lake Champlain.”

One of those was Joe Nickell, a cryptozoologist in Amherst, who told the Associated Press he believes that the creature was a young moose swimming in the lake.

Ellen Marsden, a biology professor at the University of Vermont, agreed with Nickell, telling the Burlington Free Press she thinks the animal could be a young moose in distress.

Olsen admits he doesn’t know what it was.

Tracked down by a reporter for the Free Press, he told the paper, “It struck me as something that was long (and) that it didn’t have much girth.”

The Free Press contacted its own consulting cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman of Portland, Maine, who said a laboratory analysis would be necessary.

“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.”

Since the Vermont-based Champ Quest group became inactive a few years ago, there has been no central clearinghouse for Champ sightings.

Last summer, there were few reported sightings of the legendary lake monster.

Whatever the animal was that Olsen saw, he told the Free Press that he never saw it leave the water.

He said he stopped filming after two minutes because his cell phone was running out of memory.

Reporter Lohr McKinstry wrote the story at the Plattsburgh Press Republican.

All links to all 2009 “Champ video” Cryptomundo postings and images can be found 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.

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