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The Ogopogo Sea Creature Of Lake Okanagan, Real Or Myth

Do you believe in sea monsters? From myth to photographed images, people have been passing on the stories of water creatures of prehistoric size for years. One of these water monsters frequently talked about is Canada's most famous Ogopogo of Lake Okanagan.

Lake Okanagan is located in the south central interior of British Columbia. Although Indian legends support a monster living in Okanagan Lake long before white men arrived, Ogopogo is still alive in that there are sightings reported even today. People are stating the observation of a creature some 20 to 50 feet long, with a horse shaped head and an undulating serpent like body.

So who was the first person to record seeing the creature and when? According to records, a woman named Mrs. John Allison observed the creature in the 1800s. Of course the natives had known about the creature long before and not having a written language, passed the story on to one another. The story went like this:

Within lake Lake Okanagan there lives a monster that is called N'ha-a-itk, which means lake demon. This demon's lair is within a cave under Squally Point near Rattlesnake Island, a place that is located offshore of Peachland. Knowing N'ha-a-itk lived in these parts, no man or woman would paddle a canoe near this area without an offering to the creature. Without such an offering, a storm would spring up and N'ha-a-itk would rise out of the waters to claim a life.

When the white settlers arrived to the land and began taking their place around the lake around the mid 1800s, they didn't care much about the Indian legends or precautions. Claiming not to be superstitious, they would take their canoes or boats wherever they liked on the lake. Of course this changed quickly as they too began seeing the water monster. One early recorded incident states that people saw what appeared to be two horses swimming behind a boat that was mysteriously pulled beneath the waves. The owner of the boat barely saved himself by cutting the rope attached to the horses. This was in 1860 and the incident occurred on the lake near Rattlesnake Island.

Sightings still occur today. Folks use powerboats to scour the lake for the sea creature in hopes of catching it at the surface. Some have photographed the animal or even filmed it, but skeptics say there are no absolute conclusions even with their proof.

What are people seeing; a creature that is typically dark blue, black or brown with a lighter underside. They are also saying that the creature can move with astounding speed but many sightings in calm weather have been made of the creature apparently feeding on either fish or aquatic weeds. Those who are able to get close, between 50 and 100 feet, report seeing fins or feet on the animal.

Sightings have been reported throughout the length of the lake but the monster appears to favor an area just south of Kelowna in waters near Peachland. This is no small lake. Okanagan Lake is about 80 miles long extending from Vernon at the north end to Penticton in the south with the fast growing city of Kelowna in the center.

If this animal is a myth, why has it captured the imagination of so many? Authors, producers, and celebrities have favored the famous Ogopogo for years. The first alleged film of the creature is The Folden Film, filmed in 1968 by Art Folden, which shows a dark object propelling itself through shallow water near the shore. The film was shot from on a hill above the shore.

Ogopogo was allegedly filmed again in 1989 by a used car salesman, Ken Chaplin, who with his father, Clem Chaplin, claimed to have seen a snake-like animal swimming in the lake, which flicked its tail to create a splash. Some believe that the animal the Chaplin's saw was simply a beaver, because the tail splashing is a well-known characteristic of beavers. However, Chaplin alleges the animal he saw was 15 feet (4.6 m) long, far larger than a typical beaver (beavers are approximately 4 feet (1.2 m) long). A few weeks later, Chaplin came back with his father and his daughter and filmed it again.

British cryptozoologist Dr. Karl Shuker has categorized the Ogopogo as a 'many hump' variety of lake monster, and suggested it may be a kind of primitive serpentine whale such as Basilosaurus. However, because the physical evidence for the beast is limited to unclear photographs and film, it has also been suggested that the sightings are misidentifications of common animals, such as otters, and inanimate objects, such as floating logs. Another suggestion is that the Ogopogo is a lake sturgeon. It is also possible in some cases that Ogopogo could be the misidentification of "a seiche" which is a standing wave in a lake that travels below the surface in a long serpentine motion.

In 2005, a film inspired by the Ogopogo and made in New Zealand was released. The logo for Kelowna's Western Hockey League team, the Kelowna Rockets, depicts Ogopogo.

Whatever one believes, the Canadians celebrate their mythological lake monster. In 1990, a Canadian postage stamp depicting an artist's conception of the Ogopogo was issued. The term "Ogopogo" has also been a name given to items such as boats and canoes.

Is the Ogopogo real or is it just a clever myth passed on for hundreds of years? Who knows, maybe you need to check it out yourself?

By: Roberto Bell

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