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Champ
(Lake Champlain Monster, Champtanystropheus americansus)
Creature
Grouping Cryptid
Sub grouping Lake Monster / Sea Serpent
Data
First reported 1883
Country United States
Region Lake Champlain
Habitat Water

Champ, or Champy[1], is the name given to a reputed lake monster living in Lake Champlain, a natural freshwater lake in North America, partially situated across the U.S.-Canada border in the Canadian province of Quebec and partially situated across the Vermont-New York border.[2] While there is no scientific evidence for the cryptid's existence, there have been over 300 reported sightings.[3] The legend of the monster is considered a draw for tourism in the Burlington, Vermont area.

Like the Loch Ness Monster, while most regard Champ as legend, others have speculated it is possible such a creature does live deep in the lake, possibly a relative of the plesiosaur, an extinct group of aquatic reptiles.

Contents

Cultural importance to Vermont

Map of Lake Champlain
Vermont Lake Monsters mascot

Lake Champlain is a 125-mile (201 km)-long body of fresh water that is shared by New York and Vermont and just a few miles into Quebec, Canada.

The Champ legend has become a revenue-generating attraction.[4] For example, the village of Port Henry, New York, has erected a giant model of Champ and holds "Champ Day" on the first Saturday of every August. As the mascot of Vermont's lone Minor League Baseball affiliate, the Vermont Lake Monsters, Champ became more prominent after the team was renamed from the Vermont Expos to the Vermont Lake Monsters. Champ has been the primary attraction of the New York - Penn League affiliate since their inception. Several nearby establishments, including a car wash, use "Champ" as a logo.

History of the legend

Two Native American tribes living in the area near Lake Champlain, the Iroquois and the Abenaki, had legends about such a creature. The Abenaki called the creature "Tatoskok".[5][6][7]

An account of a creature in Lake Champlain was ostensibly given in 1609 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Québec and the lake's namesake, who is supposed to have spotted the creature as he was fighting the Iroquois on the bank of the lake.[2] However, in actuality no such sighting was recorded, and it has since been traced back to a 1970 article.[4]

The first reported sighting actually came in 1883 when Sheriff Nathan H. Mooney claimed that he had seen a “…gigantic water serpent about 50 yards away” [8] from where he was on the shore. He claimed that he was so close that he could see “round white spots inside its mouth” and that “the creature appeared to be about 25 to 30 feet in length”. Mooney’s sighting led to many eyewitnesses coming forward with their own accounts of Champ sightings. Mooney’s story predated the public Loch Ness controversy by 50 years.

Champ became so popular that the late P. T. Barnum, in the early 19th century, put a reward of $50,000 up for a carcass of Champ. Barnum wanted the carcass of Champ so that he could include it in his epic World’s Fair Show (Krystek 3).

Some believe that Champ may be a plesiosaur similar to “Nessie”, claiming the two lakes have much in common. Like Loch Ness, Lake Champlain is over 400 feet (120 m) deep, and both lakes were formed from retreating glaciers following the end of the Ice Age about 10,000 years ago. Believers also claim both lakes support fish populations large enough to feed a supposed sea or lake monster (Krystek 1). This legend would require either a single 10,000 year old animal, or a sizable breeding population.[9]

Mansi photograph

In 1977, amateur photographer Sandra Mansi released a photograph that appeared to show a plesiosaur-like body and neck sticking out of the lake.[10] Mansi later showed the photo, which is similar to the famous "Surgeon's photo" of the Loch Ness Monster, to Joseph W. Zarzynski.

Zarzynski, founder of the Lake Champlain Phenomena Investigation and a Wilton, New York Social Studies teacher, took the photo to George Zug of the Smithsonian Institution’s Department of Vertebrate Zoology. Zug states that the creature in the photo does not resemble any creature or animal living in Lake Champlain.[citation needed]

The entire bay of the lake where the photograph reportedly was taken is no deeper than 14 feet (4.3 m). According to Joe Nickell, there are few explanations for how a giant creature could swim, let alone hide, in such shallow water[4]. Furthermore, some people have suggested that the object in the photograph could possibly be a rising tree trunk or log. Rotting trees often gather gas in the process of decay, and sometimes rise to the water's surface at considerable speed.

Recent reports

Champ reportedly can be seen in a video taken by fishermen Dick Affolter and his stepson Pete Bodette in the summer of 2005[9]. Close examination of the images may be interpreted either as a head and neck of a plesiosaur-like animal and even an open mouth in one frame and a closed mouth in another; or as a fish or eel. Although two retired FBI forensic image analysts, who reviewed the tape, said it appears authentic and unmanipulated, one of them added that "there's no place in there that I can actually see an animal or any other object on the surface"[11].

One piece of evidence, though not a "sighting" per se, is the recording of echolocation from within the lake by the Fauna Communications Research Institute in 2003, working as part of a Discovery Channel program. The group has concluded that the sounds they have recorded are similar to that of a Beluga Whale or perhaps an Orca, but not of a known animal, and no dolphin or whale species have been previously known to live in the lake[12]. Study of the Mansi Photo in this context has led to speculation that rather than a neck and head, the photo shows a flipper of some large animal in the act of rolling[citation needed]].

In 2008 a study by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife (collectively, The Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative) was released in July 2008 which reported unexplainable fluctuated levels of certain breeds of fish. The study noted that population parameters operate in cycles of growth and recession but they noticed that these variables changed suddenly. The report concluded this must be caused by an unknown X-factor. Many people attribute this X-factor as being the locally known lake monster, Champ. However, The Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative made no such conclusion.[13]

See also

References

  1. ^ McKinstry, Lohr (28 September 2008), "Lake Champlain expedition searches for Champy", The Press-Republican (Plattsburgh), http://www.pressrepublican.com/homepage/local_story_272053009.html, retrieved 5 October 2009 
  2. ^ a b ""Canada's Lake Creature: Champ"". Welcome to Ogopogo Country. Centre culturel Marie-Anne-Gaboury. 2001. http://cnc.virtuelle.ca/ogopogo/lake_creature/champ.html. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  3. ^ "Champ, the Famed Monster of Lake Champlain". Lake Champlain Land Trust. http://www.lclt.org/Champ.htm. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c Nickell, Joe (July/August 2003), "Legend of the Lake Champlain Monster", Skeptical Inquirer, Investigative Files (The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) 24.4, http://www.csicop.org/si/2003-07/i-files.html, retrieved 25 October 2009 
  5. ^ ""Champ History - From Ancient Times"". Lake Champlain Region. Lake Champlain Visitors Center. http://web.archive.org/web/20080215094635/http://www.lakechamplainregion.com/content_pages/champyhistory.cfm. Retrieved 14 December 2006. 
  6. ^ "The Legend of Champ". The Adirondack Coast. Adirondack Coast Visitors & Convention Bureau. http://goadirondack.com/sub_menu_page.php?sub_menu_id=133. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  7. ^ "Sea Monsters in Vermont". Kids Pages. Vermont Secretary of State. http://www.sec.state.vt.us/Kids/champ.html. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  8. ^ Chorvinsky, Mark, ""Champ" of Lake Champlain", Strangemag.com, NESSIE and Other Lake Monsters, http://www.strangemag.com/champ.html, retrieved 25 October 2009 
  9. ^ a b Phillips, Adam (21 March 2006). "Is Lake Champlain Home to a Sea Serpent?". Voice of America. http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/a-13-2006-03-21-voa14.html. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  10. ^ Radford, Benjamin (April 2004). "Lake Champlain Monster". Fortean Times. 
  11. ^ "Is There a Monster in Lake Champlain?". GMA. ABC News. 22 February 2008. http://www.abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=1648547&page=1. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  12. ^ "Lake Champlain Research". Fauna Communications Research Institute. http://animalvoice.com/lakechamplain.htm. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  13. ^ "Lake Champlain Ecosystem: Fish and Wildlife Resources Complex". U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. http://www.fws.gov/r5lcfwro/lamprey.htm. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
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