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Lake Champlain is a long narrow body of water between Vermont
and New York states of USA. The lake covers an area of 1,269 sq
km (490 sq mi) with a maximal depth of 122 metres (400 feet).
First European explorer to visit this area was French man Samuel
de Champlain in 1609. With a growth of British presence in the
region lake became an important highway for trade in the region.
Its unique position and shape made it perfect for transport of
goods and even armies.
famous resident of Lake Champlain is an alleged water serpent
known locally simply as Champ. The Iroquois and the Abenaki called this serpent "Tatoskok." Besides obvious
similarities to Loch Ness Monster (aka Nessie) in Scotland the lake has many similar features as
Loch Ness. It has a similar shape and similar biosphere that in theory
could support a small population of ancient plesiosaur that
could survive change of climate.
The first European traveler to describe his own encounter with a
legendary animal was Samuel de Champlain for whom the lake is
named. He described it as large aquatic animal that measured 5
feet (1.5 m). He was covered by silver grey scale that could
withstand hit of the dagger. In addition the animal had a long
neck that is as thick as human's thigh. Unfortunately the
description is a dubious one since no first hand documents were
discovered to support the account.
The first proven reference
to the mystical New England creature comes in 1641 in An
Account of Two Voyages to New England witten by John
Josselyn in 1639.
"They told me
[in 1639] of a sea serpent or snake, that lay quoiled up like a
cable upon a rock at Cape Ann; a boat passing by with
English[men] on board, and two Indians, they would have shot the
serpent, but the Indians dissuaded them, saying that if he were
not killed outright, they would all be in danger of their lives"
In August of 1817 a sea serpent was spotted off the shore in
Gloucester Harbor. He stayed for almost a month in this
location. Champ was first spotted on August 6th by two women who
took a leisure walk along a tranquil lake. They saw a 60 foot
long creature at the entrance to the harbor. On August 14th
local resident Matthew Gaffney attempted to shoot the animal,
but he either missed him or a thick scale saved the creature. In
the next several days Champ was seen by Solomon Allen III, Amos
Story with his wife and Lydia and Samuel Wonson. On August 18th
the cryptid was seen at the Pavilion Beach by several people.
These were all credible sources and couldn't be disproved.
Subsequently first scientific attempt to explain these sightings
was undertaken by New England Linnaen Society.
Many people flocked to Gloucester Harbor to see the creature.
Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins was among these people. He was a
rich businessman who later served as a congressman. He described
this even. "All the
town was on the alert and almost every individual both great and
small had been gratified with a sight of him". He further
describes the creature that measured at least 40 feet long with
a dark brown scales protecting his whole body. Champ quickly
moved through the water with a vertical flexure of the spine. It
is an interesting detail since only marine mammals swim with the
an upstroke. Fish, reptiles and other creatures move their
bodies horizontally as they swim.
New England Linnaen Society attempted to explain the creature as
merely a deformed snake. They even dissected a specimen that was
brought to them by one of the fishermen. The snake was only few
feet long, but its back was covered in strange humps. Few people
believed that this was the same monster they saw for almost a
month in the Lake Champlain. Their doubts were further shaken
then the next year a creature returned and was seen again by
hundreds of onlookers in different locations along a lake.
Another reference about the the creature came on July 24, 1819
in a Plattsburgh Republican. In a article under title "Cape Ann
Serpent on Lake Champlain" it gave an account of Captain Crum
who saw an enormous monster.
Champ become really famous after Sheriff Nathan H. Mooney
described his encounter with an animal in 1883. He claimed he
saw an aquatic animal 50 yards from a lake's shore. Law man
approximated the length of the creature to 25- 30 feet in length
with "round white spots inside its mouth". A craze for a
mysterious cryptid took Eastern USA by storm. Many people
flocked to the lake's shores with hopes to see a creature.
Famous American show man P.T. Barnum even offered $50,000 for a
corpse of an animal.
The sightings of the Lake Champlain monster continued through
out a 20th and 21st centuries. Photographs and videos surface
almost every year. Interestingly evidence for this secretive
creature added by means of echolocation. The recording of a
strange voice was made in 2003 by the scientists from the Fauna
Communications Research Institute. They described the voice as
similar to that of a whale or a dolphin. However it sounded
different from any mammal they encountered. The mystery