Move Over, Nessie! These Other Lake Monsters Want the Spotlight!

By Pen Cooper

A view of the Loch Ness Monster, near Inverness, Scotland, April 19, 1934. The photograph, one of two grainy pictures known as the 'surgeon's photographs,' was allegedly taken by Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson, at Loch Ness.

For generations, bizarre sightings in Loch Ness in Scotland have prompted residents and visitors to believe that a strange, unknown creature lives in the depth of the lake, surfacing infrequently to scare anyone who happens to be watching the water. The legend of the Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie, as it has been affectionately called, is well known the world over, but did you know that Nessie may not be alone? All over the globe, people have reported seeing odd, mysterious creatures residing in freshwater lakes. Here are just a few of them. 

Champ of Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain is similar to Loch Ness in that it is a long, narrow, deep lake. Lake Champlain, however, is located mostly in the United States, between Vermont and New York. Part of the 125-mile long lake does extend north into Canada. People have reported seeing a strange, large, serpent-like creature in Lake Champlain for hundreds of years. Both the Iroquois and Abenaki tribes have folklore that surrounds the unknown lake monster. The Abenaki people referred to the beast as “Tatoskok” before the body of water was named Lake Champlain after Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec. In fact, Samuel de Champlain may have been the first European to report a sighting of the Lake Champlain Monster, which became known as Champ. In 1609, according to some reports, de Champlain noted that he saw a “20-foot serpent thick as a barrel and a head like a horse.” 

Mokele-Mbembe of Lake Makele

In the Republic of Congo, a remote part of the Congo River basin where the waterway widens to create Lake Makele and Lake Bangweulu, people have reported seeing strange creatures that can best be described as dinosaurs, specifically brontosauruses. The people native to the region call the monsters “Mokele-mbembe”, which translates to “one who stops the flow of rivers.” Big game hunter, Hans Schomburgk, noted more than 100 years ago that he was in the Lake Bangweulu area when it suddenly struck him that he no longer saw any hippopotamus around. He mentioned it to his guide who informed him that a large creature…half elephant and half dragon…that killed hippos lived in the area. 

The Lagarfljot Worm of Lagarfljot

Near the Icelandic town of Egilsstaoir sits Lagarfljot, a glacier-fed, freshwater lake that is situated below sea level. Visibility in the lake is poor due to silt. Since the 1300s, the people of Iceland have reported seeing a serpentine aquatic creature living in the lake, which they began calling the Lagarfljot Worm. Like Nessie in Scotland, the Lagarfljot Worm is a long animal with a humped back. In a map of Iceland, drawn by Bishop Guobrandur Thorlaksson in 1585, there is a note next to Lagarfljot that reads, “in this lake appears a large serpent which is a menace to the inhabitants.” Sightings of the lake monster have continued into modern times. In 1963, for example, Sigurour Blondal, the head of Iceland’s National Forest Service, witnessed the beast. In 2012, a video surfaced that reportedly showed the creature swimming through the ice lake. 

Gaasyendietha of Lake Ontario

The five Great Lakes contain the majority of the Earth’s freshwater so it is no surprise that there have been reports of odd lake monsters living in the Great Lakes. In Lake Ontario, the Seneca tribes have legends in their culture about a dragon that lived in Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario, although it is a freshwater lake, accesses the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence Seaway. The lake is deep…up to 800 feet deep in some places…and rarely freezes over in the winter. According to the stories, the creature, known as Gaasyendietha, can ride on a trail of fire. This could be connected to the creation myth of the beast that says it was birthed when a meteoroid hit the ground. In his journal, French explorer Jacques Cartier noted that he saw a giant snake with a fin that moved through the water like a caterpillar. 

Phaya Naga of Bueng Khong Long

In the Bueng Khong Long district in northeastern Thailand, people claim to have seen an aquatic serpent-like monster in the Mekong River and surrounding waterways. According to local folklore, the Phaya Naga are powerful supernatural creatures that pass back and forth between the human world and the netherworld. The sea serpents are held in high regard and are frequently depicted in art and literature. They believe the Phaya Naga is responsible for fireballs in the sky and rogue waves in the waters. 

Whitey of the White River

In Arkansas’s White River, residents believe there is a freshwater sea monster that, according to legend, aided in the Civil War. The waterway was used to transport supplies, weapons and people for both sides of the war. One boat mysteriously overturned and the people living nearby claim Whitey, the White River Monster, was responsible. People who have witnessed Whitey describe the creature as having grey, wrinkly skin, like an elephant’s and an enormous body. Some reports even state that Whitey is as big as a boxcar. Efforts to catch Whitey in a net have all failed, even though there have been well over one hundred reports of the creature. 

Ogopogo of Okanagan Lake

First Nations people have described a sea serpent in Okanagan Lake in Canada’s British Columbia, for hundreds of years. The mysterious creature is said to be between 40 and 50 feet long and resembles a Mosasaurus, an extinct type of aquatic dinosaur. One of the most famous sightings of Ogopogo occurred in 1946 when the creature was seen by more than fifty people at the same time, all of whom describe the same thing. Footage of the lake monster was captured in 1968 by Art Folden. In this film, a large, serpentine animal is seen swimming across the lake. Professional analysis of his film has shown that the image is that of a large, three-dimensional, living creature. Exactly what type of creature, however, remains a mystery. Ogopogo sightings continue to occur. Just last month, there were three reported sightings from people who claimed to see a fifty-foot long aquatic serpent in the waters of Okanagan Lake. 

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