The term “lake monster” is most often associated with Nessie, the famous Loch-Ness monster in Scotland. What most people don’t know is that Nessie isn’t the last of its kind. These mysterious serpent-like creatures have been sighted in a plethora of locations around the world including the United States leading some to speculate that marine-based dinosaurs still exist.
The most famous of these American lake monsters is Champy who has racked up more than 300 sightings in its home of Lake Champlain. The fresh-water lake, which stretches 125-miles into both New York and Vermont, has enticed rumors of a mysterious beast for centuries. Both local tribes, the Iroquois and the Abenaki, spoke of a mysterious underwater horned-serpent which would lurk in the lake and eat humans. But it wasn’t until 1609 that Champy first received noted attention. Attributed to French explorer Samuel de Champlain, the diary entry was actually that of an unnamed crew member. Sightings have continued to this day.
Could theorists be right? Could Champy and other elusive sea-serpents actually be living plesiosaurs? Some certainly think so. The 10-66 ft marine-reptiles first appeared during the Jurassic period and are thought to have been at the top of the food chain. These predatory marine animals were known to thrive in both salt and freshwater environments. Many enthusiasts have suggested that pictures, videos, and sightings of alleged lake monsters bare a striking resemblance to the species thought to have been obliterated 65-million years ago.
People on the less imaginative side of the spectrum feel that the lack of supporting evidence indicates that these “lake monsters” are nothing more than misidentified natural phenomena. Everything from lines of seals, floating logs, light-refraction off of waves, and irrational delusions have been suggested to explain the hundreds of sightings of Champy alone. While we currently lack any real hard scientific-data to support the plesiosaur theory, we also don’t have enough information to conclusively disprove it. In 2003 the Fauna Communications Research Institute in tandem with the Discovery channel captured echolocation recordings from three separate locations of the lake similar to that of a Beluga or Orca whale. The noises were determined to have come from an unknown source.
Enthusiasts now flock to the lake in hopes of their own Champy sighting. The lake monster has become a viable tourist attraction. And in Port Henry, NY, the first Saturday of August is affectionately known as “Champy Day.” If you plan on your own search, the Bulwagga Bay in Vermont is still a crowd-favorite for launching. Just don’t plan on hunting the mysterious creature unless you plan on going to jail. Champy has been protected by law in both states since the 1980s. Just dive in and remember, if you feel something brush up against you, it might be a large predatory dinosaur, just looking for a snack. But don’t worry. So far, no deaths have been directly associated with these sea-monsters . . . they’ll most likely just check off drowning as your cause of death.