New “Paddler” Photo Surfaces

Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 11th, 2007

New Paddler Photo

A new photograph, above, has surfaced of Idaho’s Lake Monster, Paddler (specifically look at the right hand corner). And I do mean surfaced. This image was taken on March 29, 2007, from Grouse Mountain, Idaho, by The River Journal’s staff photographer Jay Mock and sent to Cryptomundo by “Surrealist Research Bureau” columnist Jody Forest.

Obviously, then, Paddler is the real deal. Paddler, the Lake Pend Oreille Monster, does appear to exist. But is it merely a cover story for the use of Navy submarines or are submarine sightings being confused with actual lake monster accounts?

In the early 1940s, near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, lake monsters — or at least reports of them — began to show up in Lake Pend Oreille. Typically, the sightings were of large, not clearly visible objects moving rapidly through the water. Some of the earliest printed accounts, heavily laced with ridicule, appeared in U.S. Navy publications from the Farragut Naval Training Station at Bayview, Idaho, a top-secret submarine sonar research facility.

Monster stories became so frequent that before long locals had given the creature a nickname: “Paddler.”

As North Idaho College Prof. James R. McLeod told science writer Patrick Huyghe (“Deep Secrets,” The Anomalist 5, 1997), the Navy may have been satisfied with what has been going on at Lake Pend Oreille for decades and used it as a cover story. In 1984, McLeod and his college-based cryptozoological research group conducted a much-publicized investigation, “Crypto Quest 84,” concluding that a majority of the sightings could have been of a huge, prehistoric-looking sturgeon — not native to the lake but possibly an occasional visitor. Additionally, however, McLeod learned, “Every once in a while we would get someone who also saw a submarine, and the word nuclear kept coming up. That started bothering me.”

It bothered McLeod because no nuclear subs are ever supposed to be in an American lake.

Idaho anthropologist Duke Snyder says, “I’m inclined to think that a lot of events that occurred on the lake are really the result of Navy activity of one kind or another…. If somebody begins a story about a monster in the lake, then that’s a pretty handy explanation for strange things that go on. Of course, that raises the question [of] what the heck is the Navy doing in the lake.”

For years, the Navy denied it has ever used manned submarines or minisubs in the lake, but in the 1960s two Navy contractors, Vickers and the International Submarine Engineering (ISE) groups of Canada, did use a minisub, Pisces I, to train personnel in torpedo-recovery in some American lakes. The very deep Lake Pend Oreille appears to have been one of them. McLeod was able to confirm that the Pisces I was at Pend Oreille in 1965.

Finally, the truth came out. For example, in Spring 2001, the US Navy, in an article authored by one of their own personnel in Vol. 3, No. 3 of Undersea Warfare (“The Official Magazine of the U.S. Submarine Force”), made it clear that submarine models were being used in the lake. See the Navy’s article, now online at: “Small Subs Provide Big Payoffs For Submarine Stealth.”

For more information on the reports of the cryptid Paddler, see The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep (NY: Tarcher/Penguin, 2003).

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.

17 Responses to “New “Paddler” Photo Surfaces”

  1. Bpl responds:

    The object in the lower right hand corner seems to have a very straight line, interrupted by a small protrusion. Perfectly straight lines like that don’t often occur in the natural world. I would think that this suggests the hand of man was once on the object in question.

  2. RockerEm responds:

    Huh. Well who knows? Anything is possible. I still think I saw one off the coast of Newport Beach here in California. I’m so convinced of it. The neck was like 10 feet outta the water!

  3. MBFH responds:

    Any chance of an enlargement, Loren? Should be easy given the quality of the pic. As Bpl says though, it looks straight lined and therefore artificial.

  4. Logan5 responds:

    …And they would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids!

  5. Loren Coleman responds:

    Yes, a submarine would appear as “a very straight line, interrupted by a small protrusion.” That was the point of this entire blog. 🙂

    Evidence of a submarine used covertly in this one lake, however, does not negate the cryptid nature of some other sightings, here and elsewhere, of course.

  6. Richard888 responds:

    Looking at it from the default resolution of the picture the UFO (unidentified floating object) on the lower right hand corner has too many straight lines to look like a biological organism. Also, some quality about its wake makes me think it was generated by a propeller.

  7. mystery_man responds:

    Well, this photo to me does not show an organic, animate animal of any sort. As far as the sightings within this lake, I find it odd that they started in the 1940s. Was there anything before this time? If the sightings began suddenly within this time frame, that does not indicate to me an animal that evolved here or for which this is a long time habitat of any kind. Add to that the fact that it appears the Navy was indeed using subs there and I get the impression that there may be a more mundane explaination for the sightings in this lake. (if you can call subs cruising around a lake mundane!)

  8. fuzzy responds:

    MBFH: Just right-clik on the photo, select “Save As” and save it to your files – then, go to Start, find the photo and double-clik on it – you should see the photo on your Windows Picture & Fax Viewer, where you can enlarge it quite a bit.

    I did: Bpl sez it elegantly above.

  9. Rangoon responds:

    Whether or not it is pertinent to Idaho I know that the navy had a torpedo testing station off Diamond island on Lake Winnepasauke in NH. This is significant to me because a friend had claimed to see a “large serpent” swimming in that vicinity.

    While fishing off that island we noticed regularly placed signs warning trespassers off as it was a US navy installation. Within that same period we took a sea plane ride over the area and observed yellow railroad tracks on the bottom of the lake.

  10. sschaper responds:

    no sense of scale here. Kayak?

  11. richard_from_idaho responds:

    Hello, Loren

    I live within 3 miles of Lake Pend Oreille. Many locals fishing deep water have had their lines snagged on something, which then PULLS their craft around. I’ve fished and swam Pend Oreille many times. I am inclined to believe mini-subs are the sightings. Some of the smaller craft are 20 feet long and are remotely controlled. The security on the naval base is absolute. In 20 years of living here, I haven’t had a sighting of anything I would consider cryptid. BTW, I have a copy of Prof. McLeod’s “Paddler” book. Most locals consider a sturgeon to be the Paddler. The lake could certainly hold something, as it is large, deep and loaded with fish.

  12. Remus responds:

    As a former resident of Gilford, I will back you up on the navy activity in Winnepesauke.

    We lived on the south of the lake where there would be low flights of helo’s right over our house about once a month.

    I worked at the Laconia Airport. One day I went into work and a large helo (BlackHawk) was sitting on the unused runway. It had mech problems and was waiting for assistance. It was surrounded by men with machine guns and we were definitely not welcome to poke around.

    The next day it was gone.

  13. springheeledjack responds:

    nothing in the picture here that is qualifiable as a cryptid…sounds like you have it pegged people.

  14. Rangoon responds:


    That turned out to be a site where they tested torpedo motors on Winnepasauke. I believe it was there because of its proximity to Portsmouth and because of the controlled environment.

    This does illustrate that the Navy does indeed operate in lakes and doesn’t necessarily advertise the fact.

  15. crypto_randz responds:

    Im not aware of this story of paddler it must be a submarine so i agree the picture shows a sub.

  16. MrBarney responds:

    Submarine hull hydrodynamic research, at Bayview, ID.

    Lake Pend Oreille
    Acoustic Research Detachment
    Bayview, Idaho

    Large Scale Vehicle Christening by Athol, ID Students

    Acoustic Research Detachment
    Bayview, Idaho

    “Cutthroat Kids” Help Navy Christen World’s Largest Autonomous Submarine
    Bayview, Idaho
    November 21, 2000

    Large Scale Vehicle (Submarine Model) underway in Lake Pend Oreille

    The Large Scale Vehicle Kokanee (LSV-I) is operated by the Acoustic Research Detachment (ARD) for the Naval Sea Systems Command (SEA 92R). Kokanee is a one-quarter scale model of the Seawolf (SSN-21). She is an unmanned, battery-powered, free-running model, 90 feet long, 150 tons, with batteries weighing approximately 25 tons and requiring special, high- powered battery chargers. This large-scale structural model was delivered to Bayview in north Idaho in November 1987 and operated in Lake Pend Oreille for research work.
    Lake Pend Oreille provides a deep (1150 ft), quiet body of water where a free-field ocean-like environment is available without the attendant problems and costs of open ocean operations. Unique experimental hardware and floating platforms have been developed to support a wide variety of R&D programs ranging from the measurement of flow induced boundary layer fluctuations on sonar domes to the calibrations of full-scale surface ship sonar transducers. The site’s technical programs typically support analytical efforts at the NSWCCD and contribute to the development of advanced submarine and sonar designs.

    The Advanced Submarine Technology Development program enhances the capability of the Large Scale Demonstrator System to conduct hydrodynamic/hydroacoustic/flow management/maneuvering tests, as well as development of an advanced propulsion system and sensor & processing technologies being considered for insertion in the New Attack Submarine.
    Congress authorized the Secretary of the Navy to pursue a new Large-Scale Vehicle (LSV II) demonstrator that is not limited by form or single hull design. In January 1997 the Naval Sea Systems Command contracted with Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS), for the design and construction of an Advanced Large Scale Vehicle (LSV II). These efforts include all engineering, technical, coordination, support and manufacturing efforts necessary to design and construct LSV II. LSV II will replicate large scale submarines in design and capability and is to be used as a demonstration platform for the insertion of new submarine technologies related to deep diving, nuclear powered attack submarines. It is envisioned that NNS will team, via a subcontract, with Electric Boat Corporation for some of these requirements.

    LSV II Cutthroat, a quarter-scale version of the New Attack Submarine (NSSN), will be the world’s largest underwater autonomous submarine vehicle. It will be used as a demonstrator vehicle for the advanced technologies anticipated for the submarine. After delivery in 2001, the LSV-2 will operate on Lake Pend Oreille at the Acoustic Research Detachment in Bayview, Idaho. On 12 February 1999 Newport News Shipbuilding was awarded a $46,868,246 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the completion of design and construction of the submarine large scale vehicle CUTTHROAT (LSV 2). Work will be performed in Newport News, Va. (40%); Groton, Conn. (35%), and at numerous undetermined sites throughout the United States (25%), and was expected to be completed by May 2001. This contract was not competitively procured.

  17. Charly1980 responds:

    Everyone stop thinking this is a submarine or a monster. Its a ship owned by ARD called the SeaJet (AESD) I have personally seen it. Here’s some literature as reference.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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