While everyone knows about the Loch Ness Monster, not as many know about a similar mythical creature that apparently lives within Okanagan Lake in Canada. The Ogopogo, from many accounts, resembles the Loch Ness Monster, leading many crypto-zoologists to theorize that the two creatures may be of the same species. One interesting link between the two creatures is that they both lie along the same latitude and resemble each other greatly.
The natives had stories of the Ogopogo going back hundreds of years, but it was not until 1872 that the first written records of sightings began to appear. In 1926, the Ogopogo made its debut in the Vancouver Sun as story after over 30 people saw the Ogopogo in the lake and reported the same set of circumstances relating to the creature.
The Ogopogo, while not reaching the number of sightings as the Loch Ness Monster, still has plenty of sightings in its own right. On July 2, 1947, several boaters saw the monster at the same time and described it as a creature with a long body, roughly 30 feet in length, with five humps that were separated by two feet. It was also described as having a forked tail. On July 17, 1959, two couples saw the creature emerge from the water with a snake-like head and blunt nose, roughly 250 feet behind their motor boat in the lake. The couples watched the creature for about three minutes before it disappeared.
In 1968, Art Holding got the first film of the creature, which showed a dark object moving through the water near the shore. Roughly 20 years later in 1989, Ken Chaplin and his father Clem Chaplin filmed a snake-like animal swimming in a lake, while flicking its tail. The father and son estimated that the creature was about 15 feet long. A few weeks later, they again saw the creature in the lake, filming it once more. Also in 1989, Ernie Giroux and his wife saw an animal emerge from the calm waters of the lake and swim around very quickly. They described the head as something that looked like a football. They saw the Ogopogo in the same spot as the Chaplin’s did earlier that year.
In all, there have been roughly 200 sightings of the Ogopogo in the lake by many different people including police officers, a sea captain and a priest. There have also been dozens of photos and videos taken of the creature, but none prove conclusively that the Ogopogo indeed exists.
The Okanagan Valley has a large native reserve on it where the people believe that the Okanagan Lake Ogopogo lives within Rattlesnake Island, sometimes called Monster Island. The natives of the past in the area described the creature in the lake as something evil and malevolent. The natives claimed that the shores of Monster Island were often littered with the carcasses of animals and natives would always carry a small animal while crossing the lake in the boat in order to appease the monster within the lake. In addition, no natives would fish within a certain area of the lake for fear that it would anger the monster within the lake.
The practice of offering a small animal to the creature in the lake continued with the Europeans who began to settle in the area. In addition, many settlers would patrol the lake armed with weapons in case the creature attacked.
In 1914, on Monster Island, a group of natives found the decomposing body of an unknown creature which measured 56 feet long and weighed 400 pounds. It had a tail, flippers and was blue grey in color. The local naturalist felt that the creature was a manatee but no one could explain how the manatee got into an inland lake, hundreds of miles from the ocean. Many now believe that the creature was actually the Ogopogo, or one of the group of Ogopogos that may be within the gate.
Footprints have also been apparently found along Monster Island. They have been described as looking cup-like, while irregularly shaped. Some of the footprints were described as having three toes like that.
The Ogopogo in Popular Culture
The Ogopogo has made its mark in popular culture around Canada and the world, but not to the same scale as The Loch Ness Monster. Within Canada, a postage stamp was released in 1990 that showed the conception of an artist what the Ogopogo may have looked like. In Canada, the creature is considered a national animal in many ways, especially in the naming of boats and canoes after the Ogopogo. In 1972, the case of Horsley v. Maclaren over whether or not it is considered common law to help someone in distress. Due to the boat in the case being named The Ogopogo, it was called The Ogopogo case. The Kelowna Rockets, which are located in the Okanagan, play for the Western Hockey League and use the Ogopogo as their logo.
Microsoft used the name Ogopogo as a codename for their project; Microsoft Publisher 97. Ogopogo was featured very prominently in graphics in the beta setup of the program.
In New Zealand, a movie inspired by the Ogopogo was made in New Zealand. It was going to be called Ogopogo but aboriginals protested the use of the name as it was a part of aboriginal religion. As a result, it was called Mee-Shee: The Water Giant.
Several documentaries have been made about the Ogopogo, including a season 3 episode of Monster Quest which found sink holes in the floor of the lake and cold streaks across the lake surface. Although an apparent baby Ogopogo corpse turned out to be a decomposed salmon body. Also, In Search Of, did a season two episode on the creature in 1978.
In the videogame Final Fantasy IV, the Ogopogo is a side boss that must be defeated. The Ogopogo has also appeared on several television shows including The Venture Brothers, where it is argued that Ogopogo would win a fight against the Loch Ness Monster.
The Ogopogo is an iconic creature in Canada like Bigfoot, but as of yet nothing has been found to prove that the Ogopogo actually exists. Does it exist? Is there actually a creature in the waters of Lake Okanagan? While there have been plenty of investigations, there still is no conclusive evidence of the creature. However, there are many people out there who claim that they have come across the creature and seen it. Are they correct or mistaken? Well, with over 200 sightings in the 20th century alone, plus pictures and videos, there is obviously something in that lake.