martes, 30 de octubre de 2012


There are a number of similarities between Lake Okanagan in British Columbia and Scotland's Loch Ness. They are both long and narrow and lie at about the same latitude. And they are each famous for their resident monsters. The best-known Canadian lake Monster, Ogopogo, actually made its media debut long before the Loch Ness Monster. In 1926, seven years before Nessie's came to the public's attention, Roy W. Brown, editor of the Vancouver Sun, wrote, " Too many reputable people have seen [the monster] to ignore the seriousness of actual facts." While there are serious questions about whether there are non-retroactive Nessie sightings before 1930, but there are archival records of Ogopogo's existence going back to 1872 and sightings have been reported regularly up to the present. The creature is most often described as being one to two feet in diameter with a length of 15 to 20 feet. The head has been described variously as being horse or goat-like. One oft-mentioned characteristic of the monster is its resemblance to a log. Cryptozoologist Roy P. Mackal believes that there is a "small population of aquatic fish-eating animals residing in Lake Okanagan." Mackal initially assumed that the type of animal in Lake Okanagan was the same creature that he believed is in Loch Ness, but after a careful examination of the available data, he determined that the creature must be a form of primitive whale, Basilosaurus cetoides. "The general appearance of Basilosaurus tallies almost exactly with the loglike descriptions of the [Ogopogos]. Mackal spells out a detailed case for Ogopogo being a primitive whale in his book Searching for Hidden Animals. Monster Island There are good size Indian reserves in the Okanagan Valley. The Indians believe that small, barren Rattlesnake Island is the home of the Okanagan Lake Monster. Indians called the Okanagan Lake Monster N'ha-a-tik, and there are pictographs that some feel depict the monster near the headwaters of Powers Creek. Other native references to the Okanagan Lake Monster include the Chinook wicked one and "great-beast-on-the-lake." In addition to the Salish N'ha-a-tik (or Na-ha-ha-itk), snake-in-the-lake was sometimes used. The early inhabitants of the area saw the monster as a malevolent entity. Indians claimed that Monster Island's rocky beaches were sometimes covered with the parts of animals that they had attacked and ravaged. When crossing the lake during bad weather, the Indians always carried a small animal that they would toss overboard in the middle of the lake to appease the monster, according to material in the files of the Kelowna Archives. Primrose Upton, in The History of Okanagan Mission, noted that no Indians would fish near Squally Point. When Europeans settled in the area, they too feared the aquatic monster and supposedly continued the custom of offering an animal to appease Ogopogo. According to Ogopogo expert Arlene Gaal, armed settlers patrolled the shoreline in case of attack by the monster. In 1914 a group of Nicola Valley and Westbank Indians discovered the decomposing body of an unidentified creature across from Rattlesnake Island. Five-six feet long and estimated to weigh 400 pounds, it was blue-grey. It had a tail and flippers, and an amateur naturalist in the area felt that it was a manatee. No one knew how such a creature could have gotten into the lake, and Lake monster expert Peter Costello has hypothesized that the carcass was "actually an Ogopogo, as the details of this mammal with flippers and a broad tail and dark color are all that we would expect. But the carcass was mangled so much that the long neck was already gone." Ogopogo footprints have also been found. Some have been irregularly shaped, others cup-like, some were like dinosaur tracks with three toes, and still others had a pad foot and eight toes! As Dr. Mackal has written, "The trouble with footprints is that anyone can fake them easily. Further, to assume that they were made by Naitaka is pure conjecture and supposition--certainly possible but without even a circumstantial link" to the few cases of Ogopogo land sightings that have been reported. Music for a Monster The name Ogopogo might suggest to some that it is an Indian word, but all evidence points to a modern origin. According to Mary Moon, author of Ogopogo: the Okanagan Mystery (1977), in 1924 a local named Bill Brimblecomb sang a song parodying a popular British music-hall tune at a Rotary Club luncheon in Vernon, a city in the northern Okanagan Valley. H.F. Beattie adapted the lyrics, which included the following: I'm looking for the Ogopogo, His mother was a mutton, His father was a whale. I'm going to put a little bit of salt on his tail. Robert Columbo, in his book Mysterious Canada, notes that the Pogo Stick was a popular craze since its introduction in 1921 and this may have contributed to the name. According to Arlene Gaal, author of Ogopogo: The True Story of the Okanagan Lake Million Dollar Monster, a Vancouver Province reporter named Ronald Kenvyn later parodied a popular British ditty and composed a song that included the following stanza: His mother was an earwig; His father was a whale; A little bit of head And hardly any tail- And Ogopogo was his name. Thanks to these songs, the name Ogopogo stuck and the Indian name has been forgotten by all but monster buffs. A History of Strong Sightings While Ogopogo has never attained the fame of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, the creature of lake Okanagan has regularly caused quite a stir in the international press. Monster hunters from all over the world have been drawn to the area for research purposes, and many of the sightings have been as strong or stronger than those at Loch Ness. Multiple witness sightings of Ogopogo, so rare with many other controversial phenomena, have occurred on many occasions. On September 16, 1926, Ogopogo was watched by some 30 cars of people along an Okanagan Mission beach. Not many monsters have been seen at one time by so many people. The Ogopogo sightings of 1925/26 deserve some in-depth study. Consider the appearance of Ogopogo on July 2, 1947, when a number of boaters saw the monster simultaneously. One of the witnesses, a Mr. Kray, described the animal as having "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...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." On July 17, 1959, Mr. and Mrs. R. H. Miller and Mr. and Mrs. Pat Marten saw a tremendous creature with a snake-like head and a blunt nose swimming some 250 feet behind their motor boat on British Columbia's Okanagan Lake. The group watched the unknown animal for over three minutes, after which it submerged. Recent Interest More recently, in the summer of 1989, hunting guide Ernie Giroux and his wife were standing on the banks of Okanagan Lake when a bizarre animal emerged from the otherwise placid waters. "It was about 15 feet long and swam real gracefully and fast," Giroux told the press. The Girouxs claim to have see an animal with a round head "like a football;" at one point several feet of the creature's neck and body came up out of the water. The Girouxs saw the monster at the same spot where, in July 1989, British Columbian car salesman Ken Chaplin took a video of a what he described as a snake-like creature about 15 feet long and dark green in color. This columnist has viewed the Chaplin video and feels that it was probably a beaver. "I've seen a lot of animals swimming in the wild and what we saw that night was definitely not a beaver," Ernie Giroux states emphatically. Giroux is in good company. There have over 200 sightings by credible people including a priest, a sea captain, a surgeon, police officers, and so forth. The fact that the percipients are generally people of good repute is often mentioned in reports of sightings. Photos of Ogopogo are numerous and include the 1964 Parmenter photo; the 1976 Fletcher photo; the 1978, 1979 and 1981 Gaal photos, the 1981 Wachlin photo, the 1984 Svensson photograph. There have now been half a dozen films and videos taken of an animate object in Lake Okanagan, but none of them are conclusive. What would solve the Ogopogo enigma? Only the discovery of an actual beast or the carcass of one would admit these creatures into mainstream science. If Ogopogo exists, it is clearly an elusive creature. Ogopogo hunters have failed to come up with that piece of unimpeachable evidence that will prove to the world that the aquatic monster exists. Until that evidence is found, Canada's premiere lake monster will remain a classic mystery.

lunes, 29 de octubre de 2012


Many tourists around the popular Argentinian resort of Bariloche have sighted a lake monster that has been dubbed "Nahuelito." In the manner of Nessie, Nahuelito is named after the body of water that is her domain, Nahuel Huapi Lake, which covers 318 sq. miles at the foot of the Patagonian mountains. Nahuelito has occasionally been visible for several minutes on the surface of the lake and has been sighted by scores of tourists and locals. Descriptions have varied from that of a giant water snake with humps and fish-like fins to a swan with a snake's head, the overturned hull of a boat, and the stump of a tree. Estimates of the creature's length range from 15 to 150 feet. Nahuelito is said to surface only in the summer, when the wind is still. Witnesses say that a sudden swell of water and a shooting spray precede the surfacing of the creature. There are many resorts in the mountains of southern Argentina. Bariloche resort hosts 100,000 tourists in summer season and as many in winter. The largest group of Nahuelito sightings was at the beginning of March, coinciding with the tourist season. The population of the resort areas have taken to Nahuelito in expected ways. The possibilities for exploitation have not escaped the local's notice: Nahuelito T-shirts and posters are common sights around the resorts. Nahuelito has become an Argentinian media star, as the summer vacation in Patagonia coincides with the slow news "silly season." The first films of the creature, showing little more than lines and ripples on the water, have been shown many times on news shows. They are said to provide little information as to Naheulito'a appearance. Patagonia, with its mountainous and desolate regions, has been home to many tales of monstrous animals, and the notion of a Patagonian lake monster is not a new one. Patagonian Indians told of a huge creature lake-dwelling creature without head, legs or tail. The Patagonian plesiosaur has been in the public consciousness since the early 1920s. Peter Costello, in his book In Search of Lake Monsters (Granada Publishing Limited, St. Albans, Herts, 1975) points out that eleven years before Nessie came to the world's attention, the search for a Patagonian plesiosaur made international news. In 1922 Dr. Clementi Onelli (Director of the Buenos Aires Zoo) received a report of huge tracks and crushed bushes and undergrowth leading to an unnamed lake shore. And, according to the account, in the middle of the lake was a monster. The well-regarded informant, an American gold prospector named Martin Sheffield, saw "an animal with a huge neck like a swan, and the movements made me suppose the beast to have a body like that of a crocodile." The swan-like neck mentioned here is an element of a number of contemporary Naheulito sightings as well. In Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, which was serialized in The Strand in 1912, one of the characters describes a lake monster he once sighted, as a "creature like a huge swan, with clumsy body and a high flexible neck." The inevitable circular question of whether life is imitating art or art imitating life (or some permutation thereof) comes to the forefront in cases such as this. Costello felt that The Lost World "inevitably colored popular ideas" and set the stage for the 1922 Patagonian plesiosaur debut. Onelli had been receiving sporadic reports of an unknown creature since 1897 and with the information he now had as a result of the Sheffield sighting, he was determined to mount an expedition to find the monster. The expedition, which was led by José Cihagi, superintendent of the zoo, was unsuccessful, causing Leonard Matters in the July 1922 issue of Scientific American to conclude that the plesiosaur, "if it ever existed, appears to have fled to parts unknown." One interesting aspect of the ill-fated expedition was the conservationist attitude some Argentinians had toward the monster, foreshadowing the efforts of Joseph W. Zarzynski and Jacques Boisvert with Champ and Memphre respectively, both of which are now protected by law. In 1922, Dr. Albarrin, President of the Society for the Protection of Animals, petitioned the Minister of the Interior to refuse permits to the expedition on the grounds that the creature in question came under laws forbidding the hunting of rare animals. The expedition was carrying dynamite (to mine the lake) and elephant rifles. While the expedition permits were not refused, there was some question as to whether permits had been granted or not. There were crossed signals--the expedition, now far into the Patagonian lake region, stopped until the permit question was settled and this confusion and the press criticism surrounding it seriously damaged the image of the expedition. Nahuelito sightings pre-dated both The Lost World and the 1922 Patagonian plesiosaur search. The George Garrett lake monster sighting is perhaps the best known historical Nahuelito sighting, the earlier sightings taking place in other lakes and rivers of Patagonia. Around 1910 Garrett was managing a company on Lake Nahuel Huapi when the brief incident supposedly occurred. Garrett provided the following description to the Toronto Globe at the height of the 1922 Patagonian plesiosaur controversy: "...we were beating windward up an inlet called 'Pass Coytrue,' which bounded the peninsula. This inlet was about five miles in length, a mile or so in width, and of an unfathomable depth. Just as we were near the rocky shore of the peninsula, before tacking, I happened to look astern towards the centre of the inlet, and, to my great surprise, I saw about a quarter of a mile to leeward, an object which appeared to be 15 or 20 feet in diameter, and perhaps six feet above the water. "After a few minutes, the monster disappeared. "On mentioning my experience to my neighbours, Garrett continued, "they said the Indians often spoke of immense water animals they had seen from time to time." The news story recounting the Garrett sighting ran in the Globe on April 6, 1922. Thus, the story was told in retrospect, some 12 years after the event. The plesiosaur theory is the main one being bandied about in the press and it is such a creature whose smiling countenance gazes out from the tourist posters. While the living dinosaur explanation is the most prevalent one, there are several other less popular theories making their rounds in Argentina. Of interest to those who have been following the "mystery submarine" phenomenon is the local belief that an unknown sub is prowling the lake's depths. For those readers unfamiliar with this phenomenon and its folkloric implications with regards to aquatic monsters, one of the essential notions expressed by its proponents is that the mystery submarine is a modern manifestation of the aquatic monster, a cultural variant on the water monster. (See Michel Meurger with Claude Gagnon, Lake Monster Traditions, Fortean Tomes, London, 1989; also Fortean Times #49). Patagonia is no stranger to mystery subs--in February, 1960, the Argentine navy chased an "unidentified undersea object" for 18 days, never finding the strange intruder. The now-chic monster-mystery sub connection was not lost on the press at the time. Newsweek opened its February 22, 1960 feature on the mystery sub entitled "The Wily Whatzit?" thusly: "Was it a whale? Or an amphibious flying saucer? Or the Loch Ness monster gone astray?" An article by William R. Rudy in the New York Post of February 17, 1960 was headlined "The Monster Rally Down Argentine Way," and describes the route that Nessie would have taken to get to Patagonia: "From Loch Ness in Northern Scotland the route lies down the Ness River, seven miles NNE into Moray Firth and the North Sea. Wind and weather conditions probably would dictate a serpent's next move--over the Orkney's into the North Atlantic, or the shorter route through treacherous Pentland Firth. Once in the North Atlantic it is virtually a straight run some 8,000 miles SSW to the cold waters of Golfo Nuevo on the lower Argentine coast." The article's illustration visually expresses the theme as it depicts a caricatured "sea serpent" monster on the surface of the water in proximity to a battleship dropping depth charges. Also making the rounds is a third theory augmenting the growing body of strange lore surrounding nuclear power. Some Argentinians are wondering if Nahuelito could be the result of nuclear experimentation by German scientists during the Peron regime in the 1950s. Those intrigued with almost any aspect of lake monster study will find something of interest in the case of Nahuelito. The Lake Nahuel Huapi monster and her Patagonian relations may have been the first possibly-real creatures linked in the public consciousness with the plesiosaur, an image that is as popular or more popular today in the public imagination than it was in 1922. Whether fact, fiction, or some surreal combination of the two, one thing is certain--Nahuelito is here to stay and we will be hearing much more about her in the future.

Mummified Baby Nessie with Internal Organs ?.

The gentleman in the photo, reportedly a physician that conducted the autopsy on the wee beastie presented here (if memory serves), may have been rumored to have participated in the Bathymetrical Survey of the Fresh-Water Lochs of Scotland. The provenance card accompanying the exhibit identifies him as Dr. Alexander Moore. “1912 Dr. Alexander Moore led an expedition to prove the existance (sic) of a creature said to live in Loch Ness. His team searched the loch for more than 3 weeks and returned with one infant specimen. The creature was already dead when it was discovered but the Dr. was able to preserve the heart, one lung and a segment of intestine.” Doc Weitzel’s Traveling Curiosity Show Old Gettysburg Village, Gettysburg, PA

domingo, 28 de octubre de 2012

Robert Rines and his search of Nessie.

Robert Rines, 87, composer, professor, founder of law center, seeker of ‘Nessie’ Even if Robert H. Rines had never seen what he believed was the hulking hump of a creature break the surface of Scotland’s Loch Ness, his life would have captured imaginations and filled a lengthy resume. Patents on his inventions number more than 80, including those for devices that sharpened the resolution of radar and sonar scanning. He founded Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire and helped push patent and intellectual property law into the legal spotlight. He taught at Harvard and MIT and, along with being a lawyer, had degrees in physics and microwave technology. He also composed music for Broadway and shared an Emmy for a show that ran on TV and the stage. Then there’s the anecdote about an encounter with a man who heard him, then about 11, playing violin at a camp in Maine. Impressed, the man asked to borrow a violin and played a duet with the young musician. “That gentleman turned out to be Albert Einstein,’’ said his wife, Joanne Hayes-Rines. “People just don’t have stories like that in their lives.’’ Few people have lives to match the one lived by Dr. Rines, who died of heart failure Sunday in his Boston home. He was 87 and had spent the past 37 years lending his hefty intellectual bona fides to the search for a creature in the waters of Loch Ness. “It looked like the back of an elephant,’’ he told the Globe in 1997, recalling that moment in 1972 when he looked out the window of a friend’s house in Scotland during a tea party and watched the curve of something he couldn’t identify repeatedly disturb the water’s surface. “I know there was a big unknown thing in that lake. That’s why I haven’t let go.’’ Clinging tight to a pursuit that many dismissed as a fool’s errand inevitably brought detractors, but he shrugged off criticism of his search, which never was rewarded with conclusive proof. “There are few of us willing to risk our reputations on something as improbable as this, judged with such ridicule,’’ he told Boston Magazine in 1998. “Scientists think there are other things to do for fame and fortune than something this crazy. So we do it quietly as a private venture and don’t have to hear that we’re ‘crazy people chasing monsters and wasting public funds.’ ’’ The Loch Ness creature known as Nessie was but one of the passions that kept Dr. Rines working at an exhausting pace until a couple of years ago, when a stroke forced his body, if not his mind, to slow down. “He was still working,’’ his wife said yesterday. “He had a meeting with clients the week before he died.’ A significant figure in the fields of intellectual property and patent law, Dr. Rines never lacked for students, lawyers, and clients who wanted his time, teaching, and counsel. “I think we’ve lost a tremendous advocate for those who have deep technical training as a first base, and go on to shape law and policy around the globe,’’ said Dedric Carter, assistant dean of engineering at MIT. “Bob Rines was a true visionary in a field of endeavor - law - in which visionaries are in short supply,’’ said John Hutson, dean and president of Franklin Pierce Law Center. “Lawyers tend to look back for guidance, to things like precedent and legislative history. Bob always looked ahead. He steered by the stars, not by the wake.’’ Born in Boston, Robert Rines grew up in Brookline, the younger of two children born to two lawyers. He began playing violin at 4 and was so good that many friends were certain he would make music his career. Instead, he graduated from high school early and from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1942 with a bachelor’s in physics. By his college years, he had begun composing; but World War II was raging, and he joined the Army Signal Corps as a radar operator. While serving, he developed the modulation technique used in the military’s Microwave Early Warning System. After the war, he worked in the federal patent office while getting a law degree at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. In 1972, he completed a doctorate in microwave technology at Chiao Tung University in Taiwan. Dr. Rines initially worked with the Boston law practice run by his father, also a patent attorney. In 1963, he founded the Academy of Applied Science, now based in Concord, N.H., to promote innovation and encourage youths to delve into the sciences. He also began teaching, and spent about 40 years in classrooms, mostly at MIT. “He focused on the lawyer who was the engineer, the scientist lawyer,’’ Carter said. “He wanted people who focused not only on the current generation of law and policy but the next generation. His greatest legacy is training a generation of leaders and trying to seed the next generation of lawyers, engineers, and scientists.’’ Dr. Rines’s sideline of writing music might have blossomed into a career had he not been busy as an inventor and lawyer. “Drum Under the Windows,’’ a musical adaptation drawn from the work of dramatist Sean O’Casey, drew reviews in 1960 such as one in The New York Times that said: “You won’t find anything more eloquent in any theater in town. . . . There is joy in every song.’’ He shared the Emmy Award with Paul Shyre in 1987 for “Hizzoner - The Mayor,’’ a play about New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. Dr. Rines was married to Carol Williamson, who died in 1993. A couple of years later, he married Joanne Hayes. “People who would read about him would expect to meet someone who had a great aura about him and maybe was standoffish, unapproachable,’’ his wife said. “He was so far from that. He was one of the most loving and approachable and funny people - and humble. I think when people are really brilliant, they are humbled by the things they don’t know. Even though his accomplishments were amazing, he was still searching.’’ Hutson said there was “a twinkle in his eye and a puckishness in his demeanor that you don’t always see in lawyers.’’ “I think that’s what made him the poet and the composer and the renaissance man that he was,’’ Hutson said. “There were so many facets and sides to Bob Rines that as great a lawyer as he was, and as great an educator, he was more than that. He was fun to be around.’’ In addition to his wife, Dr. Rines leaves two sons, Justice of New York City and Robert of Concord, N.H.; a daughter, Suzi Rines Toth of Duxbury; a stepdaughter, Laura Hayes-Heuer of Washington, D.C.; and four grandchildren.