Freshwater Monster of British Columbia, Canada.

Etymology: From a British music hall hit— "The Ogo-Pogo," written in 1924 by Cumberland Clark with music by Mark Strong and made famous by Davy Burnaby. At a luncheon on August 23, 1926, W. H. Brimblecombe of Vernon, British Columbia, sang a parody written by H. F. Beattie that was modified to incorporate some characteristics of the Okanagan Lake monster. Ronald Kenvyn of the Vancouver Daily Province declared "Ogopogo" its official name on August 24, 1926.

Variant names: Auck, Hayash-hayash kust skaka kupa lake (Chinook Jargon/Pidgin, "huge animal in the lake"), NAITAKA, Ukuk masachi kupa lake (Chinook Jargon/Pidgin, "wicked one in the lake"), Yakaqansen stop.

Physical description: Serpentine. Overall length, 20-70 feet. Black, dark green, gray, or dark blue. Skin is smooth and shiny, with some barnacle-like calcium deposits underneath. Head is like a horse's or goat's, held at right angles to the neck. Hornlike protrusions. Ears are rarely reported. Whiskers or a beard. Slim neck, 5-10 feet long. Usually has two or six humps or arch ing coils, but as few as one and as many as fourteen have been reported. Middle hump is the highest out of the water (2-3 feet). Several observations suggest jointed feet that aid in swimming. Tail is forked or formed by two flippers.

Behavior: Mostly active in the afternoon. Sometimes spouts water. Swims by vertical undulations at a speed up to 40 miles per hour. Two or three animals have occasionally been seen together. Presumably, the creature eats fishes or freshwater shrimp, though on one occasion, it was seen to snatch a seagull.

Distribution: Okanagan Lake, British Columbia.

Significant sightings: Susan Allison watched a 60-foot animal swimming against the wind off the western shore during a storm in 1872.

Lydia Hodgson, of Okanagan Landing, got a good view of Ogopogo on July 21, 1923, as she was riding a horse along the shore. It looked like an "upturned boat" at first, but as she got closer, she was able to see three humps and a head. The animal moved its head from side to side and moved its eyes. When Hodgson called to her son, Ogopogo immediately submerged and swam under water toward the center of the lake.

John L. Logie, his wife, and his driver, P. J. Dodwell, saw a 20-foot animal on July 19, 1926, as they were driving along the lake north of Peachland. It raced alongside their car, producing a foot-high swell.

Ogopogo made an appearance between Gel-latly Point and Westbank during a baptism on November 18, 1926, where fifty or sixty people were gathered on the shore. Witnesses said it had a sheeplike head raised 2 feet above the water and several coils the size of automobile wheels.

On October 6, 1935, Edward Grahame, Jim Ripley, and Charles B. Grahame were fishing

near the north end of the lake when they saw Ogopogo rise to the surface some 200 feet from their rowboat. The animal's undulating humps were about 1 foot above the surface.

On February 26, 1948, bus driver Don Nourse saw four small animals 50 feet from the shore.

On the evening of July 2, 1949, the families of Leslie L. Kerry and W. F. Watson Jr. watched Ogopogo off Kelowna. It was 30 feet long, sinuous, and consisted of five undulations. They saw what appeared to be a forked tail.

Rev. W. S. Beames saw Ogopogo off Nara-mata on August 12, 1950. A disturbance described as being like a fire hose thrashing about was caused by several humps that submerged and left a large wake.

In mid-July 1974, Barbara Clark was swimming toward a diving platform off the southern shore of the lake when something large and heavy bumped her legs. After jumping on the platform, she was able to watch a serpentine animal moving through the clear water 20 feet away. One coil was 8 feet long and 4 feet above the water. She could also see a flukelike tail, 4—6 feet wide.

John Kirk, his son, and two members of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, Jim and Barbara Clark, were at Peach Orchard Beach on July 30, 1989, when they spotted a 35-foot, humped animal. One large hump was visible through a 40X telescope.

On August 1, 1989, John Kirk again saw a 35-foot animal with three to six humps thrashing frenziedly near Green Bay.

On July 24, 1990, Mike Guzzi noticed an image at a depth of 350 feet on his fish-finding sonar near Bear Creek as he was taking Japanese reporter Masayuki Tamaki on an Ogopogo search for Nippon TV. It seemed to consist of a head, tail, and 30-foot-body, with bubbles coming up off the head.


In July 1993, from a hill 6 miles north of Penticton, John Moore watched an animal with a horse's head protruding about 6 feet from the water and creating a wake. It moved in a straight line for about thirty minutes.

In mid-August 2000, Darryl Ellis, a cancer survivor, was swimming the entire length of the lake to raise funds for cancer research when he saw two Ogopogos pacing and swimming underneath him near Rattlesnake Island. One was at least 20 feet long. When he neared Okanagan Lake Bridge, a large, grayish animal flipped out of the water near him, and he saw an eye the size of a grapefruit.

Photography: In early 1967, Eric Parmenter snapped a photo showing a disturbed area of water where a large animal had just submerged.

In August 1968, Arthur Folden shot about one minute of 8-millimeter footage of a 70-foot animal some 200—300 yards from shore near Rattlesnake Island. The film shows an object surfacing and submerging three times; unfortunately, Folden stopped the camera each time it went under water. A preliminary analysis of the film by Kerry Voth in 2000 indicated the object was solid, had one vertical and two lateral protrusions, and emerged from the water at a rolling angle.

On August 3, 1976, Edward R. Fletcher took five photos of Ogopogo in the lake off the Westbank Yacht Club. It appeared about 40 feet long in its coiled swimming position and 70—75 feet long when relaxed.

Arlene Gaal took a photo of a long, dark hump creating a wake near Kinsmen Beach on May 28, 1979.

On August 5, 1979, at Peachland Hill, a tourist from Alberta shot three minutes of movie footage that shows two Ogopogos cavorting in the water. The animals churned up the water and made loud thumping noises. The whereabouts of this film is currently unknown.

On August 11, 1980, Vancouver tourist Larry Thal took eight to ten seconds of Super 8 film of an animal that was seen for a total of forty-five minutes off Monteo Beach by some fifty tourists. The 50- to 60-foot animal submerged and resurfaced, swimming back and forth from the Okanagan Lake Bridge. Arlene

Statue of Ogopogo, Lake Okanagan, British Columbia, 1975. (Loren Coleman)

Gaal claims to be able to see a head with jaws in an enhanced version.

Eugene Boiselle shot the first video footage of Ogopogo—or at least an odd disturbance in the water—on September 5, 1982, from Knox Mountain Park.

On May 19, 1987, from the summit of Mission Hill, John Kirk videotaped nearly one minute of a 40-foot Ogopogo swimming in the lake.

Ken Chaplin videotaped a black, 15-foot animal in the lake near the mouth of Bear Creek on July 17, 1989. It arched its head, smacked its tail on the water, and then submerged. Arlene Gaal went to the site with Chaplin on July 22, where, at 8:30 P.M., she saw the head and back of a dark animal about 15—20 feet long move from the creek out into the lake. She obtained two still photos of it, while Chaplin shot some video. Some analysts think the animal is a beaver.

On August 26, 1989, near Peachland, John Kirk was able to videotape Ogopogo again as a distant hump for about twenty-five minutes.

Paul DeMara videotaped an animal creating a disturbance in the lake on July 24, 1992, from a


cottage near Okanagan Centre. His wife, mother, and several friends watched as a waterskier crossed its path and tumbled into the water. DeMara shot two more video sequences of unknown objects in the lake over the next five to ten minutes. The final one seems to show a head, neck, and part of a back rising from the water.

Michael Zaiser took five photos of a 40-foot, long-necked animal making a disturbance in the water off Okanagan Mountain Park in February 1996.

On April 18, 2002, a film crew in the process of staging a re-creation of a 1978 Ogopogo sighting shot 90 seconds of footage showing three humps undulating in the water about 200 yards away. Fourteen observers, including the original witness, Bill Steciuk, watched the black, shiny creature.

Possible explanations:

(1) The White sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) is the largest freshwater fish in North America and grows to 20 feet in length. In British Columbia, it is found in the Fraser/Nechako, Columbia, and Kootenay River systems but has never been officially recorded in Okanagan. The body is covered in large bony scutes rather than scales.

(2) A group of ducks swimming in a line. Okanagan is a major summer breeding area for the Common merganser (Mergus merganser).

(3) Unlikely explanations proposed in the 1920s included the marine Oarfish (Regalecus glesne) and the tropical Manatee (Family Trichechidae).

(4) A basilosaurid whale, a member of a family of archaic whales that lived 42—33 million years ago, in the Middle to Late Eocene, suggested by Roy Mackal. Barbara Clark's 1974 observation is particularly basilosaurid-like.

(5) A plesiosaur-like reptile related to Caddy, according to Ed Bousfield. Sources: "Ogopogo Now Official Name of the Famous Okanagan Sea Serpent," Vancouver Daily Province, August 24, 1926; Roy Patterson McLean, Ogopogo: His Story (Kelowna, B.C., Canada: The Courier, 1952);

Dorothy Hewlett Gellatly, A Bit ofOkanagan History (Kelowna, B.C., Canada: Orchard City Press, 1958), pp. 22-27; Arlene B. Gaal, Beneath the Depths (Creston, B.C., Canada: Valley Review, 1976); Mary Moon, Ogopogo (Vancouver, B.C., Canada: J. J. Douglas, 1977); Simon Welfare and John Fairley, Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World (London: Collins, 1980), pp. 103-105; Arlene B. Gaal, Ogopogo: The True Story ofthe Okanagan Lake Million Dollar Monster (Surrey, B.C., Canada: Hancock House, 1986); "Interview: The Lady of the Lake Talks about Ogopogo," ISC Newsletter 5, no. 2 (Summer 1986): 1-3; "Close Encounter in Lake Okanagan Revealed," ISC Newsletter 6 (Spring 1987): 1-3; John Kirk, "BCCC Report on Okanagan Lake, 1989," Cryptozoology 8 (1989): 75-79; John Moore, "Ogopogo Sighting," Cryptozoology Review 2, no. 1 (Summer 1997): 3; John Kirk, In the Domain ofLake Monsters (Toronto, Canada: Key Porter Books, 1998), pp. 3-24, 30-114; Arlene B. Gaal, In Search of Ogopogo: Sacred Creature ofthe Okanagan Waters (Surrey, B.C., Canada: Hancock House, 2001); Stories of Ogopogo, ogopogo/; J. P. Squire, "Ogopogo Surfaces for Video Production," The Okanagan (Kelowna, B.C., Canada), April 22, 2002.

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