Freshwater Monster ofAlaska. Etymology: After Lake Iliamna.

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Variant name: Jig-ik-nak (Inuktitut/Eskimo-Aleut).

Physical description: Whalelike or seal-like. Length, 10-20 feet. Dull gray. Dorsal fin with a white stripe.

Behavior: Swallows boats, especially those with red hul l s.

Distribution: Lake Iliamna, Alaska.

Significant sightings: Babe Alsworth and Bill Hammersley were flying over the lake in September 1942 when they noticed several dozen grayish animals with large, blunt heads. Their size was wel l over 10 feet.

In 1963, a biologist from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game was flying his plane over the lake and spotted an animal 25-30 feet long that was swimming below the surface. It did not come up for air during the ten minutes he watched it.

Air-taxi pilot Tim LaPorte was flying above Pedro Bay in 1977 when he and his two passengers saw a dark, 12- to 14-foot animal on the surface. It dived straight down and revealed a large vertical tail.

On July 27, 1987, Verna Kolyaha saw a 10-foot, bl ack fish with a white stripe al ong its fin. The next day, Jerry Pippen observed a large seal spouting water.

Possible explanation: A l arge Green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris), which grows to 7 feet long, or a White sturgeon (A. transmontanus), which grows to 20 feet. Sturgeons have not been recorded in Iliamna, but they are known in other Alaskan lakes and coastal waters as far north as Cook Inl et.

Sources: Gil Paust, "Alaska's Monster Mystery Fish," Sports Afield, January 1959, pp. 54-56, 65-67; "Alaska's Monster Mystery Fish," American Legion Magazine 80 (June 1966): 52; "The Iliamna Lake Monster," Alaska Magazine 54 (January 1988): 17; Loren Coleman, Tom Slick and the Search for the Yeti (Boston: Faber and Faber, 1989), pp. 125127; Matt Bille, "What Lies beneath Lake Iliamna?" Crypto Dracontology Special, no. 1 (November 2001): 66-69.

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