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A Canadian stamp of the Ogopogo issued in 1990

Ogopogo is the name given to the reputed lake monster that dwells in Lake Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada.

British zoologist Dr. Karl Shuker has suggested it is a kind of primitive serpentine whale such as Zeuglodon. Other sightings have suggested that the Lake Okanagan beast is of the 'many hump' variety rather than the 'long neck' type. However, because the physical evidence for the beast is limited to unclear photographs and film, it has also been suggested (arguably more plausibly) that the sightings were really of otters and logs (Nickell, 2006).

Another theory is that the Ogopogo is a lake sturgeon.

Early myth

Okanagan First Nations have a much longer history with Ogopogo than white people. The name for Ogopogo used by the interior Salish is N'ha-a-itk. This monster was made up by the indians originally to scare small children out of swimming in the lake without an adult nearby, but later was reported to actually be seen on a regular basis. Other references to the "Great-beast-in-the-lake" and the "Snake-in-the-lake" have also been noted. Local First Nations were always leery of traveling across the lake and often carried animals that could be sacrificed in the event that Ogopogo was spotted. It was documented in the history of Okanagan Mission that no aboriginals were willing to fish near Squally Point, where the entrance to Ogopogo's cave supposedly lies. Petroglyphs, or pictographs, found near the headwaters of Powers Creek, show an ancient illustration of a serpent-like beast. Many feel this is the earliest evidence of Ogopogo's existence.

Earliest modern sightings

The first sightings of Ogopogo's existence date back as far as 1860 as the area was being colonized by the first European settlers, sixty years before the first modern reports of The Loch Ness Monster in Scotland.

The first clear sighting that was witnessed by a large group of people occurred in 1926 at an Okanagan Mission Beach. There were about thirty cars of people who all claimed to have witnessed the same event. It was also in this year that Roy Brown, then editor of the Vancouver Sun, wrote, "Too many reputable people have seen [the monster] to ignore the seriousness of actual facts."

One of the few known films is a clip known as The Folden Film, shows a dark object propelling itself through shallow water near the shore. The film was shot from on a hill above the shore.

Today, sightings are reported on an average of six times a year. Descriptions vary, but certain characteristics have been repeated through the decades: Ogopogo is green with a snakelike body about 25 metres long.

The name

The name Ogopogo is a palindrome. Contrary to popular belief, it did not come from an Indian name for the creature. In Ogopogo: The Okanagan Mystery, author Mary Moon (1977) gives the story of a local man, Bill Brimblecomb, who sang a song about Ogopogo which was a parody of a then popular British music hall tune at a Rotary club in Vernon.

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.

Another suggestion is by Arlene Gaal (1986) who claimed a Vancouver Province reporter named Ronald Kenvyn parodied a popular British song and his own version for Ogopogo:

His mother was an earwig;
His father was a whale;
A little bit of head and hardly any tail;
And Ogopogo was his name.

"Ogopogo" is also the name given to a few dragon-like monsters in various role-playing games and other fantasy settings. In Final Fantasy IV he is the (optional) last boss monster encountered before the end-boss Zeromus, and puts up a fierce battle before giving up the samurai sword Masamune, for Edward "Edge" Geraldine.

In Canada, "Ogopogo" has also been a name given to items such as boats. In 1972, the Supreme Court of Canada considered the case Horsley v. MacLaren which involved a boat called the Ogopogo.

See also


  • Gaal, Arlene. 1986. Ogopogo: The True Story of The Okanagan Lake Million Dollar Monster. Hancock House, Surrey, BC.
  • Moon, Mary. 1977. Ogoppogo. Douglas Ltd., North Vancouver, Canada.
  • Nickell, Joe. 2006. Ogopogo: The Lake Okangan Monster. Skeptical Inquirer, 30(1): 16-19.
  • Radford, Benjamin. 2006. Ogopogo the Chameleon. Skeptical Inquirer, 30(1): 41-46.

External links