Could unknown Okanagan creature be baby Ogopogo?
Kent Spencer, Canwest News ServicePublished: Monday, November 10, 2008
VANCOUVER - A TV documentary crew has added to the mystery surrounding Ogopogo by finding an unknown biological specimen in the depths of Okanagan Lake.
"I told a radio station tongue-in-cheek I thought it was the baby Ogopogo," monster-watcher Bill Steciuk of Kelowna said Monday after the History Channel completed a nine-day shoot.
"It was all curled up. The features were really hard to see. You could see a little head tucked in and a straight tail with no fins.
"It's a huge mystery. We have no idea what it is," said Steciuk, who helped organize the shooting locations.
The unidentified specimen has been shipped to the University of Guelph in Ontario for DNA tests, but Ogopogo buffs will have to wait until February to find out more, when the Monster Quest program weighs in on the legendary mega-serpent.
Ogopogo, first sighted in the 1870s, is reputed to be 12 metres long with multiple humps and a small head.
The History Channel, which had a bigger budget than previous expeditions, mounted a thermal infrared imaging camera on a helicopter for the first time. It picked up an unidentified shadow on the lake, while sonar spotted something over three metres long moving in the water.
"That's pretty big for a fish," said Steciuk.
But divers made the most interesting find in an underwater cave on the west side of Rattlesnake Island.
"I couldn't recognize it," said Steciuk. "Nor could anyone else. Maybe a new species has been found."
Photographs of the specimen were shown to local expert Arlene Gaal, who has earned the title of Ogopogo-ologist after writing three books on the subject. She is not sure that the son of Ogopogo has been found.
"The Ogopogo is real, but I don't know what this is," she said.
"I had my doubts when the crew presented me with their findings. It looked to me like a decomposing ling cod."
She said the crew's best efforts were wasted on choppy waters.
"It was not the time for sightings," she said. "The Ogopogo likes warm weather and sunshine."
Producers departed with dramatic re-enactments of past sightings - but no catch of the century.
Steciuk said the program may have been defeated by the primitive snake's reserve.
"The Ogopogo is a shy animal," he said. "There is no question we have an aquatic animal on our lake. Okanagan residents are starting to come to grips with it."