Ogopogo; The Granddaddy of All Sea Monsters

Artists Rendering of a Plesiosaur

While Nessie and Champ steal thunder and spotlight, these mysterious and famously shy creatures were foreshadowed by the granddaddy of all lake monsters.

Ogopogo, of Okanagan Lake in British Columbia Canada, which lies nestled in the BC interior very near Kelowna, just north of the US/Canada border, is actually the oldest known case of a large seafaring cryptid.  Having had its public debut in 1926, seven years ahead of the world famous Scottish Loch Ness Monster, Oggie qualifies as the first such cryptozoological mystery known to man, which is strengthened by archival evidence that it may have been discovered as early as 1872.

As with all cryptid legends, grainy photographs and shaky, blurry film are all that monster hunters and cryptozoologists have to go on when staking their claim on the shores of Okanagan Lake.  The first such evidence is famously known as the Folden Film, named after the man who chanced to capture the world’s first look at this mysterious beast, Mr. Art Folden.  The Folden Film is notoriously difficult to obtain, as its current owner maintains tight copyright restrictions on its duplication and publication, and through some cursory research, it seems the only recent showings of the film have been through large television network specials on the subject.

While the Folden Film is the earliest known film evidence of Oggie, his was certainly not the first sighting of the creature.  On September 16, 1926, a caravan of beachgoers, occupying some 30 vehicles parked along the Okanagan Mission Beach, were privy to the largest group sighting of any cryptid.  The report of this sighting deserves further study, but it is said that the witnesses offered descriptions that were surprisingly consistent and cohesive.

A 1964 photo showing characteristic Oggie Ripples

A 1964 photo showing characteristic Oggie Ripples

Many such sightings have occurred over the years, and the large number of credible reports has led some journalists to declare the Ogopogo legend to be true, based solely on the volume of sightings.

The truth of the story, or indeed, truth of Oggie’s existence, remains in question, but only to the degree that credible photographic or biological evidence has yet to be presented for analysis.  Considering the widespread acceptance of sea-monster legends, there seems to be a serious lack of comprehensive evidence to back up such a position.  One might say that there is more evidence to support the existence of Bigfoot, than of a giant Sea Monster, though such an argument is unnecessary.

The legend of Ogopogo has been a boon to the population of Kelowna and Lake Okanagan; the lake, known for world class fishing and its many beaches and islands, is actually less a lake than a river tributary.  Its winding flows and beautiful Canadian forests are the perfect backdrop for such a colourful tale, or is it the other way around?

If one performs a Google search on the term Ogopogo, it isn’t long before one can see a connection between tourism and the legend of Ogopogo.  Resorts, campsites and boat tours fill the area with amateur monster hunters and enthusiasts, pouring out of province and even out of country cash into the pockets of local businesses and municipalities.  Oggie is big business, and the protection of his mystery is just as important to the locals as the lake itself.

Through that same Google search, eventually one will come across the several folksy songs that have been written about Ogopogo and carried through the generations.  Oggie has become a cultural icon to the people of British Columbia, and as such the credibility of more recent sightings comes into question.  Whenever a population stands to benefit on a fiscal level from the continued existence of and belief in such a legend, one must always consider that bias in the face of all evidence presented from that point on.

ogopogoNow, I don’t claim to debunk the evidence presented on behalf of Ogopogo, of which there is a veritable mountain, what I’m claiming is that the motives of the persons coming forward with evidence at this point in the commercial development of Lake Okanagan, is suspect.  Oggie may well exist, he may be as some researchers have claimed, a form of primitive serpentine whale (Basilosaurus Cetoides) left over from some era in prehistory, or he may simply be a moss covered log, come to life with the imagination of those less familiar with life in the British Columbian wilderness.

All things considered, Ogopogo is a hallmark case of cryptid mystery and cultural folk lore, and its value is immeasurable regardless of the evidence in hand.  The legend and the mystery will endure, as will the commercial value of such legend, but one thing is certain, monster hunters, paranormal enthusiast and vacationing families alike, will continue to be intrigued by the idea of capturing footage of Lake Okanagan’s Ogopogo Monster, and because of their passion, we will never be short of fantastic tales, blurred photos and shaky video of the oldest Sea Monster around.

Bring the legend of Ogopogo to your own bookshelf…buy a copy of In Search of Ogopogo: Sacred Creature of the Okanagan Waters from the Paranormal People Bookstore today!

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