When considering the topic of mysterious creatures that dwell in lakes, the most famous case of Loch Ness and its ‘monster’ probably comes to mind. Nessie is far from the only one of her kind, though, and one example from British Columbia is a creature known as the Ogopogo.
References and written records to this strange, large creature living in the Okanagan Lake date as far back as the 19th century. Compared to Nessie, the legend of the Ogopogo predates known reports of the Loch Ness monster by around seven years. A cousin of sorts to the creature living in Loch Ness, this animal is classified in cryptozoology as a lake monster.
An early recorded sighting of the Ogopogo occurred along the Okanagan Mission Beach in 1926 when three dozen people in cars reported a creature in the water of the lake. In July 1947, more witnesses and boaters reported another sighting of the creature in the lake. One of the witnesses stated the creature had a long, sinuous body and was approximately thirty feet in length. He claims the creature’s body was segmented by five undulations, each separated by a two-foot gaps where the creature’s body was under water. The creature’s tail was forked, and he could see half of it as it rose from the water.
Again in July, this time 1959, three people reported seeing a ‘tremendous’ creature with a snake-like head and blunt nose swimming two-hundred and fifty feet behind their motor boat. The unidentified behemoth had swum near the surface for three minutes before disappearing beneath the water.
In 1968, Art Folden captured footage of a creature moving through the water creating a considerable wake. Computer analysis of this footage confirmed that the object causing the water movement was solid and three-dimensional.
In 1989, hunting guide Ernie Giroux and his wife were enjoying the views of the lake when a strange creature emerged from the waters. Unlike previous reports, this beast was fifteen feet in length and moved strong and gracefully in the water. Its head was rounded, and it bobbed in and out of the water as it swam. Coincidently, they were in the same spot where earlier that year a car salesman named Ken Chaplin captured a video of a dark green snake-like animal also fifteen feet long. Later views of this footage lead many to dismiss the sighting as a beaver – albeit a very long one!
While not as famous as its Scottish cousin, sightings of the Ogopogo are well documented with over 200 credible reports, including some from a sea captain, a priest, and multiple police officers. However, until a carcass of the creature is recovered, exactly what lives in the Okanagan Lake will remain unknown.