Most of us have heard of the Loch Ness monster, the creature who haunts the deep depths of Loch Ness in Scotland. But many haven’t heard of Nessie’s “cousins”, or rather the less well known mythical lake monsters that inhabit the world’s waters.
If you visit the Lake District and in particular, the shores of Lake Windermere, you might just catch a glimpse of “Bownessie”. Bownessie is the name given to the monster that has been spotted in these waters over the years. The name comes from the nearby town of Bowness and is also a nod to Scotland’s Nessie.
The story of Bownessie really began in 2006 when an eyewitness claimed to see a huge creature on the lake measuring approximately 30 feet in length, a monster with humps. Since then, there have been numerous other sightings. In 2012 a man local to the area claimed to have spotted the huge beast.
Few have claimed to have caught a shot of the creature on camera yet the reports continue to come. One local man reportedly piqued the interest of the curious creature whilst he was swimming in the lake. The lake monster swam around him during this terrifying ordeal. Indeed sightings are reported each and every year, especially in the summer months when there re more visitors to the Lakes.
Some experts have claimed that witnesses are seeing nothing more than a large fish. Possibly a catfish or an eel. However, witnesses insist this was no mere fish and something substantially bigger and yet unknown to science.
The Morag is believed to live in Loch Morar in the Highlands of Scotland. This particular lake monster is often described as a half-human half-fish creature. Very similar to a mermaid. She is said to be associated with death. The legend goes that if you see her a death, in particular, a drowning will soon follow.
Some descriptions describe her as a pale woman with long flowing blonde hair. In other depictions, she is a dark creature, similar to a grim reaper.
In 1969 two local men claimed to have accidentally hit the creature with the oars of the boat whilst sailing on the lake. This prompted the creature to attack the pair. They struck it and eventually shot in with a riffle before it sunk to the depths. They described it as more akin to the Loch Ness monster – measuring between and 25 and 30 feet in length with 3 humps. Indeed more modern sightings describe the lake monster as a serpentine creature.
Champ or Champy is the name of the lake monster said to live in Lake Champlain, a 125-mile long lake which stretches from New York into Quebec in Canada.
Stories of this creature began with the Native Americans who claimed to have been aware of a serpent type creature living in the lake. Samuel de Champlain (from whom the lake takes its name) allegedly claimed to have had his own sighting of the beast in 1609. However, this is considered to be a mere legend. What Champlain did describe was the sightings told to him by eyewitnesses. Since the early 19th century, American settlers reported their own sightings of the monster. To date, there are over 300 reported sightings of Champ.
Many of these sightings come from credible witnesses and locals to the area who are familiar with the local animals. All are adamant that what they have seen is not a fish or any other creature with which they are familiar. Indeed one witness in 1883 was the local sheriff. In the late 19th century, a reward was offered to anyone who could catch the lake monster by non-other than P.T. Barnum.
Most reports describe a creature somewhere between 10 and 30 feet long. Although one report dating from 1819 described the creature as measuring a massive 187 feet long. Champ is thought to be a serpent type creature with large eyes and with a big (sometimes) horse-like head.
In more recent times, eyewitnesses still continue to come forward and some even claimed to have photographic evidence. Regardless of the validity to these sightings, Champ has become a tourist attraction and a part of the cultural fabric of the various towns which lie on the lake.
Ogopogo is the lake monster said to inhabit the waters of Okanagan Lake in Canada. As with the sightings of Champ, sightings of the Ogopogo date back to the Native North Americans. The natives believed that the monster demanded a live sacrifice in order to guarantee safe passage across the lake. They would often throw small animals into the lake to appease the monster.
The white settlers began to spot the monster from the late 19th century. But sightings of Ogopogo peaked in the 1980s. A million-dollar reward was offered to anyone who could capture the monster. This prompted Greenpeace to insist the animal be photographed or filmed and not harmed. Remarkably Ogopogo has been declared an endangered species.
The creature is described as either black or green in colour, with the head of a horse or sheep. It is thought to be at least 15 feet in length, sometimes measuring as long as 50 feet.
Many sightings have been witnessed by multiple people. For instance, in 1980 50 people claimed to watch the creature on the lake for 45 minutes. The reports of the creature are fairly consistent and regular. This, coupled with the long history of sightings dating back to the Natives makes the existence of the Ogopogo incredibly likely.
I was first made aware of the legend of the Lagarfljótsormur or Lagarfljót worm whilst watching an episode of Destination Truth some years ago. The crew caught an interesting shape on film as they found themselves lost in the fog on the lake. The episode made me aware just how widespread the belief in lake monsters was. That lake monsters are not just a Scottish phenomenon, but are international!
The Lagarfljót worm is said to reside in Iceland in Lagarfljót Lake. Sightings of the creature date back to the 14th century and it is a well-documented part of Icelandic folklore and tradition. Many inhabitants of the region believe in the existence of the creature and accept its existence as a matter of fact.
The creature is said to measure around 40 feet in length and is often described as having a number of humps. What makes this creature particularly interesting is that witnesses have reported seeing the creature out of the water on the nearby banks of the lake. And even climbing trees.
Many sceptics claim eyewitnesses mistake seals for lake monsters. Unlike many other lakes on which witnesses claim to see lake monsters, such as Loch Ness and Lake Champlain, Lagarfljót is not home to seals. In fact, Lagarfljót is home to very few animals. Explanations, such as gas bubbles and floating logs have been put forward to explain away the sightings of the creature, however, witnesses claim to know what they saw.
I find stories of lake monsters utterly fascinating. Science quite often tries to explain away what people see as something known. However, in my opinion, can thousands of eyewitnesses, dating back hundreds of years all be wrong? I agree that some sightings can perhaps be the result of overactive imaginations or misidentification, but can they all? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
For similar posts, see my paranormal category.