Lake Champlain, a 125 mile long body of fresh water that is shared by New York and Vermont, as well as jutting a few miles into Quebec, Canada is the reported home of a mysterious aquatic creature. Lake Champlain is as deep as 400 feet in some places with a water area of over 440 square miles. The lake was formed over 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age, prior to the forming of the lake this area was actually an arm of the Atlantic Ocean. The early history of the Lake Champlain Monster can be traced back to the original inhabitants of the area, the Iroquois and the Abenaki tribes. The two tribes had many legends and often spoke of a horned creature which dwelled in the lake, as westerners began to explorer more of the area it was only a matter of time before they to spotted the creature.
The first documented European run in with the Lake Champlain Monster, or Champ as it is affectionately called, was made in 1609 by French explore and Quebec founder Samuel De Champlain, while fighting the Iroquois Indians on the banks of the lake that would later share his name. Since that original reported sighting many sightings like it have been reported, many by credible eye wittedness. On July 5, 1977 near St. Albans, Vermont, Sandra Mansi, using her Kodak Instamatic camera, photographed what she, and many others believe is the creature known as champ during a picnic with friends and family. This picture, showing what appears to be Champ’s neck and back rising out of the water, is highly contested by some experts mainly because Sondra Mansi waited 3 years to come forward with the picture and by that time had lost the original negatives.
Over the years many experts have studied the Mansi photo and concluded that no tampering was done to the photo. Dr. Paul H. LeBlond, using wave size estimates from a mariner's standard practice of the Beaufort scale was able to estimate the lower and upper range of size associated with the image, which tie in with Sandra Mansi's account of the size. LeBlond's estimated size was 4.8 m to 17.2 m, which ties close to Mansi's estimate of 15 to 20 feet (4.6 - 6.1 m).
It was during the time of the Mansi photograph, the 1970’s, that the Lake Champlain Phenomena Investigation Group was established. Headed by Joseph Zarzynski, the formation of this group, and subsequent research, including several sonar scans showing a large object moving below the surface, resurrected the legend of Champ. This group along with others like it have spawned studies of the lake to determine if a large breeding population of a yet unknown species could realisticly exist below the surface based on food avaliblity. Other reasearchers have cross referensed past reports to isolate the best time frame to spot the creature, it was determined the reports occur more frequently at dusk and dawn which would establish a nocturnal behavior which could account for fewer sightings.
Additionally, researcher Dennis Jay Hall, who heads Champquest, has studied the incidents for nearly 20 years. Using reports of past sightings he predicts that Champ is most likely to bee seen will five days before and after the new moon of each month, mainly at night. In 1998, based off of eyewitness reports, Hall claimed his theory boosted a 75% success rate.
Some scientists feel that Champ may be a primitive whale called a zeuglodon, others, including Mr. Dennis Jay Hall, feel that it could be a Tatystropheus, a form of long necked reptile similar to a plesiosaur. One thing is for sure, with the system of underwater caves that stretch along the bottom of Lake Champlain a large creature could remain hidden from modern science, and with hundreds of sightings the simple fact remains that with in the depths of Lake Champlain there lives a mystery. A mystery so compelling and so widely believed to be true that New York and Vermont legislator have both put Champ on the endangered species list.
To date no physical evidence of Champ has been obtained, however pictures, videos and eye witness reports are still reported to this day.
Over the years there have been more than 300 reported sightings of Champ, and countless unreported sightings.
• 1819: Bulwagga Bay, Port Henry, NY
• 1871: Horseshoe Bay, riders of the steamship Curlew claimed to see a head and long neck that created quite a wake.
• 1870: Charlotte, Vermont, a full steamboat spotted Champ
• 1873: Dresden, New York, another steamboat full spotted Champ
• 1883: Sheriff Nathan H. Mooney looked off the northeast part of New York’s Lake Champlain and saw a gigantic water serpent about 50 yards away. The creature which rose about five feet out of the water and was estimated to be 25 to 35 feet in length.
• 1945: In the middle of the lake the creature was spotted by the famous S.S. Ticonderoga
• 1954: A 14 inch reptile was trapped in Shelburne Bay, possibly a baby…
• 1977: The Mansi photograph was taken by Sandra Mansi, a tourist from Connecticut, with her Kodak Instamatic, of what she called a dinosaur. This has become the most famous piece of evidence—featured nationally in Time Magazine and the New York Times among others.
• 1984: Off Appletree Point, Vermont. 86 passengers aboard the Ethan Allen spotted 3 to 5 “humps” which disappeared after about 3 minutes due to the approach of a speed boat.
• 1993: Button Bay State Park, Ferrisburgh, Vermont. A baby Champ reportedly swam between two women bathers.
• 1995: Dennis Hall of Champ Quest recorded Champ on video
The Stats – (Where applicable)
• Classification: Unknown
• Size: Reports show an average size of 15 – 20 feet
• Weight: Unknown
• Diet: Unknown, most likely fish
• Location: Lake Champlain, New York, Vermont, Quebec
• Movement: Swimming
• Environment: Lake