Penticton: known for wine, lakes and… a sea monster?
Often considered the Loch Ness Monster’s Canadian sibling, Ogopogo is moving up in the ranks as one of the world’s most elusive sea monsters. With a seemingly permanent residency in the Okanagan Lake, Ogopogo has become a nearly century old mystery, filled with unclear sightings and international intrigue. With a name that means ‘lake demon’ in the Native Salish tongue, Ogopogo definitely has the allure and uneasiness required to become a world-renowned sea monster.
The mystery of Ogopogo all started in 1926, when 30 cars of people claim to have witnessed a sighting of a mysterious creature swimming in the water. The people claimed the creature to be around 15 to 20 feet in length with a horse or goat-like head. Since then, there have been over 200 sightings of the creature over the years, from a wide array of witnesses that include police officers, tourists and even a priest.
“(It had) a long sinuous body, 30 feet in length, consisting of about five undulations, apparently separated from each other by about a two-foot space, in which that part of the undulations would have been underwater,” a witness in a July 1947 appearance was noted as saying. “There appeared to be a forked tail, of which only one-half came above the water. From time to time the whole thing submerged and came up again.”
Ogopogo has a tendency to change shape, depending on the activity it’s doing. Richard Armstrong, a knowledge keeper from the Penticton Indian Band, stated as much to Castanet in a recent interview. “It depends on the people who see it and what the creature is doing. When it’s hunting or feeding, it has a different shape than when it’s just travelling. Our people have always recognized a serpent-like 50 to 60 footer as one of the shapes.”
A popular theory is that Ogopogo may just be a large sturgeon fish swimming throughout the Okanagan. This theory has its naysayers as well because sturgeon fish of Ogopogo’s alleged size have never been photographed or captured in the Okanagan Valley.
The century-old mystery gained new steam this year when two women claim to have seen Ogopogo firsthand while boating off the shore of Quails Gate Winery in Kelowna. “It was a huge snake, I saw it, I saw the head. It was two feet thick and it was 50 feet long. I could not believe it,” local resident Suzie St-Cyr Cowley says. “I was afraid because we were so close and I wanted to move my boat away. I was screaming, “Oh my god, that’s Ogopogo! It was so big.”
St-Cyr Cowley and her friend were skeptics before but now believe in its existence. “I thought it was just a story. But, it is true, it does exist, I saw it with my own eyes.”
With so many alleged sightings, however, there are still so many questions left unanswered. Is Ogopogo a male or a female? Just one creature or a family of sea monsters? Where did it come from?
We might never know the truth behind this tremendous creature but what we really want to know is: do you believe Ogopogo exists?