Friday, November 5, 2010

The Legend of Ogopogo

Okanagan Lake is nestled in the Okanagan Valley area of British Columbia, Canada. Settlements surrounding the Lake include Kelowna, West Kelowna, Vernon, Lake Country, Peachland, Summerland and Penticton. The lake is home to two islands, Rattlesnake and Grant Islands, and a floating bridge connecting Kelowna to Westbank as well. Okanagan Lake is 135 KM in length and 5 KM wide with the average depth of 76 Metres. Many creeks run into the lake while it flows out to the Okanagan River. The lake is home to many fish species including Rainbow Trout and Kokanee, but the most famous resident of Lake Okanagan is the Legendary Ogopogo.

I grew up in Vernon, BC, which you will notice is located on Okanagan Lake. Vernon is a small town/city with the population of about 36,000 residents. I was born and raised in the area and took it for granted... Vernon really isn't known for much... Other than the fact that it's got numerous orchards, hosts a slow pitch tourney every summer called Funtastic, is a beautiful place to visit and has The Army Camp. The Ogopogo has been featured on TV a few times, I remember seeing a bit on Unsolved Mysteries about it... You know who got credit though? Kelowna, because it's the biggest Okanagan City... I tell you what, that really bummed me out! Why? Because the Ogopogo is all of the Okanagan's creature... Not just Kelowna's!

For those of you who are not familiar with the Ogopogo's Legend, the creature is essentially Canada's cousin of the Loch Ness Monster. Aboriginal People of the area have been seeing the Serpent like creature since the 19th Century. The local Salish Natives have named the creature Naitaka, which translates to "Lake Demon". The first mention of the Ogopogo by a European Settler was in 1860, when the man reported his horses being drawn under by an unforeseen force as they were swimming in the Lake near Rattlesnake Island. The first physically documented sighting was in 1872, when the area was being colonized by European Settlers. With the aid of advances in technology, there are a few photos and videos that are claimed as proof that the monster does indeed exist. Some say that the photo/video evidence aren't clear enough to definitively prove that the Ogopogo exists. The images could in fact have other explanations.

The creature has been described in similar was to that of the Loch Ness Monster. The Ogopogo is reported to be 40 to 50 feet long, with a variety humps on it's back. British cryptozoologist Karl Shuker believes that Ogopogo could possibly be a Basilosaurus, a primitive serpentine whale creature. Some skeptics believe that the images caught on film and video were mistaken with natural wildlife including a lake sturgeon, otters, beavers, snakes or other Marine life. Others feel the images were that of inanimate objects such as logs or something called a seiche. A seiche is a standing wave in a lake that moves below the surface in a serpentine motion.

Though not as famous as Nessie, the Ogopogo is one of the Okanagan's claims to fame. As to be expected, there is much merchandising associated with this lake monster. I've sent my share of postcards that depict cartooned versions of Ogopogo, I've sent one of my nephews a stuffed Ogopogo as well... Items don't end there, as you can imagine...

It's not always about me; though I've swam in Okanagan Lake, I've never seen the Ogopogo...

1 comment:

lisa said...

Where can you get a stuffed ogopogo online?