Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Lake Champlain's Monster Sighted Again

"Champ" from

From an article by Joe Nickell in the Skeptical Inquirer as reported by
Dubbed “North America’s Loch Ness Monster,” the purported leviathan of Lake Champlain, “Champ,” has just resurfaced. On Feb. 22, 2006, Good Morning America aired exclusive video footage of “something” just below the surface of the water, possibly the lake’s fabled creature.
The incident added to a long list of Champ sightings, which have described a chameleonesque creature that is black, gray, brown, moss green, reddish bronze or other colors, and is between 10 and 187 feet long, with multiple humps or coils as well as horns or a mane or glowing eyes or “jaws like an alligator”—or none of those features.

Such sightings may be due to large fish like sturgeon, schools of fish, and other marine creatures. For example, otters, swimming in a line, can mimic a single long, serpentine creature moving in an undulating fashion. Other Champ suspects include wind slicks, boat wakes, driftwood, long-necked birds, and many other possibilities.

The newspaper noted that the Champ legend dated from 1609 when French explorer Samuel de Champlain described a creature the Native Americans called Chaousarou. In his journal, Champlain wrote that the species was reputed to range up to 10 feet long and that he had personally seen some half that length and “as big as my thigh”—words subsequently echoed by eyewitness Bodette. Champlain noted that Chaousarou resembled a pike with an exceedingly long snout and “dangerous teeth”—certainly alligator-like features. In short, Champlain’s description seemingly tallies with the creature the Vermont fishermen encountered.

The apparent match is instructive: the explorer was almost certainly describing a longnose gar, one of the Ganoidei subclass, which includes sturgeons and other varieties.

Although the video is insufficient for a positive identification, the men’s description does permit this tentative solution to the mystery. For four centuries gar have been astonishing people on Lake Champlain. During one of my investigative trips to the lake I interviewed a fisherman who had just witnessed a friend hook a longnose gar that—he insisted—was “monster” sized, measuring about 6 feet 4 inches long. He called this “the real Champ,” and dubbed it, appropriately, “Gar-gantua.”

Read the rest of the article HERE.