A Close Encounter of the Sea Monster Kind

champAnother summer is on its way and, once again, I am hoping to see something I’ve always wanted to see.

It’s not Paris, although I hear that’s very nice. It’s not a puffin, although they are supposed to be very cool birds. It’s not a total eclipse of the moon.

No, I’ve always wanted to see the sea monster that inhabits “my” lake. I’ve always wanted to see Champ . . . although maybe I already have.

I live on the shore on Lake Champlain, a lake that measures 120 miles long and is 12 miles at its widest point (that makes it a LOT bigger than Loch Ness!) Lake Champlain is a fresh water lake and it forms the border between upstate New York and Vermont.

For hundreds of years, stories have been told about a monster in the water. The Native Americans in the region, Iroquois and Abenaki, had legends about the beast, calling it Tatoskok or Chaousarou.

In 1609, the first European to see the lake, Samuel de Champlain, supposedly wrote in his journal about seeing the creature, and hundreds of other reports have made Champ a local legend. He (she?) is the mascot of a minor league baseball team in Vermont and the celebrity behind the annual Champ Day in Port Henry, NY.

Champ has been seen by not just cranks and drunks but by officers of the law, clergy, college profs, a whole boatload of tourists. The best-known photograph of the monster was taken in 1977 by Sandra Mansi.


This copy of the Mansi photo taken from http://www.csicop.org

Killjoys have spent a lot of time trying to debunk the photo and to come up with scientific explanations for the sightings of the monster.

They even go so far as to say that most sightings are only pieces of wood floating in the lake!

But I caught these photos a couple of years ago.

What do you think? Huh? Huh? I’m just sure that all sensible, clear-minded people will agree that’s no piece of wood.

Right? Are you with me on this?

48 thoughts on “A Close Encounter of the Sea Monster Kind

  1. Ha, I have been to Paris ( very nice indeed!) , Loch Ness ( on my honeymoon…) and even Lake Champlain ( too bad I did not know you then!) And I had wood burners and know all there is to know about wood. So that makes me an expert I’d say and I have a very sensible and clear mind on top of that. So yes…definitely, with out any doubt..we are looking at Tatoskok him/herself here. I am so proud of you Kerry, catching the monster on camera!! xo Johanna

    • Wow–such expertise! I am so relieved to know I was right all along about this sea thingy–your vote of confidence makes all the difference! 😉

  2. The world’s largest tapeworm? A giant eel? If it is related to whatever Champlain saw, then there must be at least 2 of them to make more generations. I don’t think any creature could have survived since the 1600s.

    • There are zillions of possible scientific explanations–but, really, what fun are they?! And, if I believe in one, I can believe in several, a whole family even . . .

  3. I’m with you on this! Several years ago when I was visiting Burlington often, I’d sit down by the lake shore hoping to catch a glimpse of Champ…but no luck. But you did it…way to go, Kerry!

  4. Our Lake Wakatipu has an interesting story.” It has a ‘tide’ (more correctly, an unusually large seiche or “standing wave”), which causes the water to rise and fall about 10 centimetres every 25 minutes or so. Maori legend links this phenomenon to the heartbeat of a huge monster named Matau, who is said to be slumbering at the bottom of the lake.”http://www.newzealand.com/int/feature/lake-wakatipu/ If your Lake rises and falls then I would say there’s definitely a monster to be found! I remember you told me that it had a seiche.

    • Good memory! Our seiche was an unusual event, though, that had to do with the flooding that year and really strong winds. It’s not regular, like on your lake. We do see random waves, seemingly out of nowhere, and they fuel the speculations about Champ. Glad to know NZ has it’s own sea monster!

  5. Kerry I know you to be a Sensible, Level Headed woman – you comb fringes right? All we post menopausal SLH women recognise monsters when we see them and it is a well known fact that all semi mythical creatures do not reveal themselves to disbelievers any way. Sadly however I think there has been some inbreeding going on since the 70’s. Someone needs to get Nessie over to strengthen the gene pool!

  6. I’ve been rowing on Lake Champlain and kept an eye out for the monster, but to no avail. That 1970’s photo reminds me of Nessie photos I’ve seen (I hoped for Nessie sightings in Scotland, but alas, none there either). I think you should spend more time on the lake. In a boat. Perhaps with luxury picnic supplies, including wine. And binoculars, of course, as well as a camera with a telephoto lens. I’d be up for such a mission myself…

    • I REALLY like the way you think, Lisa! I could spend the rest of my days looking for Champ, if it was done in the manner you describe (and I might not care of I never saw him)!

  7. Obviously it’s a sea monster! I mean for crying out loud. I have such great memories of Lake Champlain and our trip into Ausable Chasm many, many years ago. Sheesh, Jen was just a little girl so it must be going on 30-plus years now. How can that be when I’m still a young chick myself? Don’t answer that…..

    • Oh, don’t get me started on being a young chick and the inexplicable fact of the birthday I’m approaching this fall! Where do these big numbers come from?!

  8. I believe you! It must be Nessie’s cousin 🙂 How exciting that you saw the monster itself! Although the poor thing is probably misunderstood, I’m sure he dosn’t like people calling him a monster 😉 xx

  9. I followed the link to the picture from 1977 and found several interesting tidbits. First, Champ and Nessie were thought to be a similar species! Also the Sandra Mansi photograph is called the “Holy Grail of Lake Monsterdom,” which is just the most fantastic phrase ever. Great post, Kerry – and I’m with you, it’s totally a monster!

    • Wasn’t that an interesting article? More debunking than supporting the idea of Champ but still fun to read. Alaska must have some sort of sea monsters in their folklore?

      • you know, one would think that but I can’t say I’ve ever heard of an Alaskan sea monster (though I’m totally going to google that!). Maybe our massive sea lions are as good as we get!

    • Yes! I’m always fascinated with the ways certain themes pop up in the myths and legends of different cultures. It makes me think they must fit some human need . . .

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