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Animals in the Okanagan

Thanks to Rob Breakenridge from AM770 — CHQR for the interview and exposure!

Some information regarding a recent animal sighting in Lake Okanagan, all emphasis is mine.

According to the Kelowna Daily Courier:

[Wendy] Sanderson, 41, who has lived in Kelowna since she was four, and Krug, an Edmonton welding teacher, were both at the Okanagan Centre boat dock at 10:30 a.m. Thursday because family members were taking a scuba diving course.

“There wasn’t a single boat on the lake. It was completely calm, absolutely perfect, just the most pristine conditions for this viewing we had,” said Sanderson.

“I’m not saying I saw Ogopogo. I’m saying that I saw a big-ass snake-like creature in the lake. It scared the bejeezus out of me. It is creeping me out.”

The article goes on to describe the creature:

It was so huge; I would have said over 30 feet. I’m thinking, a good three feet out of the water. It formed two to three humps at the same time as it was swimming or slithering from the east to the west across the middle of the lake. For three minutes, we watched it and then it was gone. It was the most amazing thing we ever saw.”

A 22-year-old man fishing off the dock was so surprised he dropped his fishing rod.

“The welding teacher was pacing up and down the dock, screaming at everybody that would listen. He wanted everybody to experience it. I just watched. I had my cell phone on the beach, but I didn’t even run for it to take a picture. I just wanted to watch,” said Sanderson.

The creature she saw was too large for any snake ever documented by scientists, she said.

“A lot of people are saying: ’Wendy, what if that was a group of sturgeons?’ There’s no way they could have been that synchronized while swimming. I’ve been looking up sturgeon and those are fish. They can’t form perfect humps out of the water to be able to pull off what we saw. There’s no way.”

“Our giant sturgeon?” responded Krug with a laugh when asked about the sighting.

“About a mile out from us was distinctively what you would say Ogopogo is. There’s three humps, right? The more we watched it and watched it and watched it, you could see how mistakes have been made over hundreds of years,” Krug said.

So, looking at those descriptions we have an animal that is 30 feet long (give or take) which undulates in the water dorsally to produce humps. There’s a few problems with this from a biological perspective. There may be snakes in the world that are 30 feet long, undocumented by science — but they probably don’t live in the cold climes of North America. And snakes swim with lateral undulation — meaning that they swim like the crawl on the ground, not making big humps in the water.

But there is an animal that does behave like this — the Otter. Lake otters often travel in a line and from a distance they do look like a huge creature. Here’s a video with a little sample of this swimming at the end. (And a plug for Ben Radford’s book — shameless isn’t it?)


The discussion on CHQR Calgary included mention of a body found that might be Ogopogo. The latest news (June 26, 2009) says that the corpse was being sent for DNA analysis. As I write this it is August 5, 2009. I have to suspect that they did not find anything interesting in the sample. I could be wrong — but it doesn’t take this long to get a DNA sample analyzed.

The views expressed on this program are not necessarily the views of the Skeptics Society or Skeptic magazine.

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