The Lake Okanagan Monster (Ogopogo)
Canada's foremost lake monster, purportedly makes its home in
Lake Okanagan (a.k.a. Okanagan Lake)  a pristine body of
water located in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley.
to the arrival of European settlers, the region’s aboriginal peoples
referred to the lake’s largest denizen with names such as N’ha-a-tik
(lake demon) or Na-ha-ha-itk
(snake in the lake) and when crossing open water in bad weather carried
animal to placate the monster which they
It was the Europeans who, perhaps
taking the cryptid  a little less seriously, called it Ogopogo, the
name taken from a somewhat irreverent parody of an
twentieth century English music hall song:
I'm looking for the Ogopogo.
The bunny-hugging Ogopogo.
His mother was a mutton, his father was a whale.
I'm going to put a little bit of salt on his tail.
I'm looking for the Ogopogo.
Following the ditty and the notoriety it engendered sightings
of the alleged monster quickly increased:
In 1926 a sighting by over a hundred witnesses took place at Okanogan
1949 a group partying on a boat claim to have seen a partially
submerged Ogopogo close up and personal. The monster purportedly had a
tail similar to that of a whale but moved with the undulating motion of
In 1968 a saw mill worker caught what he thought to be
the creature on 8mm film, unfortunately the film was not of the best
quality and the object considered by some to be the fin of a gigantic
creature moving just below the surface was thought by others to be
nothing more than a boat’s wake.
In 1980 a second film, taken
by a group of vacationers, showed huge waves perhaps caused by a
submerged creature a
possible fin occasionally visible.
In 1989 Ernie Giroux, a hunting guide, claimed that he and his wife
obseved a strange creature emerge from the lake near where they were
So is the creature real?
Shuker a British cryptozoologist has suggested it might be some kind of
primitive serpentine whale such as Basilosaurus (“King Lizard”) a genus
of cetacean from the Late Eocene, a position also taken by fellow
cryptozoologist Roy P. Mackal, who after initially believing Ogopogo to
be similar to the Loch Ness Monster
later changed his mind.
Or is it myth/illusion?
A partialy submerged tree trunk, log or misidentified animal (deer,
large fish possibly a lake sturgeon (a prehistoric leftover from the
Cretaceous) which can live for a 150 years, grow as much as 9 feet
(3 meters) in length and weigh over 300 pounds (140 kilograms).
formation of a subsurface (standing) wave called a seiche which can
throw debris from the bottom of a lake to the surface. Seiches are know
to occur in Lake Okanagan, Lake Champlain and Loch Ness.
Perhaps the questions are irrelevant:
real, myth or illusion the monster has both captured the world’s
imagination and left its mark on the culture and economy of British
Columbia. (It was announced at one point [perhaps with an eye on the
tourist trade] that a new ferry, being built to carry people across the
Okanagan, would be equipped with a special “monster repelling device.”)
It has inspired movies, television series and documentaries. A Canadian
stamp and hockey uniform bear its likeness and objects from canoes
to boats bear its name.
Since 1989 Ogopogo has enjoyed protected wildlife status. It is
illegal to harm the creature in any way.
Lake Okanagan is 84 miles (135 km) long, with a maximum width of 3.1
(5 km) and a maximum depth of 761 feet (232 meters). By
comparison Lake Champlain, purported home of Champ/Champy the Lake Champlain Monster,
is 125 miles (201 km) long, with a maximum
width of 14 miles (23 km) and a maximum depth of 400 feet (122 meters)
while Loch Ness is 22.6 miles (36.3 km) long, with a maximum width of
miles (2.7 km) and a maximum depth of 744.6 feet (226.96 meters).
The word “cryptid” was devised by Manitoban John E. Wall and first used in
the International Society of Cryptozoology Newsletter, Summer 1983. It
basically refers to creatures that are hypothetical, presumed extinct
or for which there is insufficient proof to establish their existence
with absolute certainty.
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