Lake Champlain’s “Champ”
This famous photo of the Lake Champlain monster was taken by Sandi Mansi in 1977. Thousands of people, dating all the way back to the Abenaqi Indians, claim to have seen the creature. This very deep lake lies on the border of New York and Vermont and is accessed by sea through the St. Lawrence Seaway. The first recorded sighting took place when Samuel de Champlain came upon the lake in July 1609. During this expedition, the French explorer noted “a 20-foot serpent, with a horse-shaped head and body as thick as a keg.” Since then, sightings of the strange aquatic beast have been reported by over 300 people, many documented in Joseph Zarzynski’s definitive book Champ–Beyond the Legend written in 1984.
“Dennis Hall has personally encountered the creature on several occasions and has obtained several photographs and videotaped evidence. In fact, Dennis may be the only person to have ever captured a Champ specimen. In the 1970’s Dennis discovered an unusual looking 12-inch-long reptile in a marshy area bordering the lake. The creature looked like no other living reptile and possessed a strange forked tongue. Upon inspecting the creature Dennis’ father thought the beastie strange enough to be worthy of examination by the scientists at the University of Vermont who indicated that it was unlike any living reptile in the catalog. Like many a cryptozoological creature, this one was somehow lost thereby ensuring that the monster would remain an enigma. Dennis Hall subsequently saw what he thought was the spitting image of the creature he once possessed in a book on prehistoric reptiles. Tanystropheus, extinct for millions of years, appeared to be the long-lost twin of Hall’s 12-inch specimen. Considerably larger and with a fairly long neck, Tanystropheus enjoyed a semi-aquatic existence much like Champ.” (Kirk, John, In the Domain of the Lake Monsters, pp. 132-133.)
Perhaps the most intriguing evidence for Champ’s existence came from underwater microphones installed in 2003 by a team doing research for the Discovery Channel. The team picked up a high-pitched ticking and chirping noise like what a dolphin or whale makes. Obviously these creatures would not be in freshwater, many miles away from the ocean.
Featured on the TV program Unsolved Mysteries, Champ has been amateur video-taped at least twice. On February 22, 2006 ABC News obtained an exclusive video of something just under the surface of the lake that some say may be Champ. The video (including the humps shown right and the long slender shape underwater that appears to be a head) was taken by two fishermen with their digital camera (see still photo below). Before their supposed sighting, they were Champ skeptics. In 1993 a Japanese team searched the entire lake with 15 boats and multiple helicopters. They came back with a sonar report of a very large object (about 20 ft long) having passed under them. Many people believe Champ to be a plesiosaur.