Mythical lake monster in Lake Okanagan in British Columbia, Canada. It is also known as Naitaka, or "lake demon," by the Shuswap Indians of the area, who have reported seeing it since the 1800s. It's generally described as a sea serpent about 40-50 feet long.

Back in the old days, if the Indians had to make a trip across the lake, they'd take a live animal with them to appease the monster. Why not just go around the lake? Easier said than done -- Okanagan Lake is 84 miles long. As more white settlers arrived, more sightings were reported -- at one point in 1926, near Okanagan Mission Beach, about 30 cars full of people reported seeing the monster.

The Ogopogo name came about because a traveling performer played an English music hall song called "The Ogo-Pogo: The Funny Fox-Trot" by Cumberland Clark and Mark Strong. The creature described in the song has almost no traits in common with the lake monster -- the closest you can get is "His mother was an earwig, his father was a whale, I'm going to put a little bit of salt on his tail." The rest of the song describes him as a googly-eyed man from Hindustan who wears boots and plays a banjo. But for whatever reason, the name Ogopogo was adopted for the monster, and Naitaka was only rarely heard again.

I'm not big on believing this stuff -- and what I've read about the sightings doesn't make it any easier for me to do so. Most of them sound like folks who mistook common objects like floating logs for a creature in the lake, pranksters, out-and-out liars, and people who saw a monster because they wanted to see a monster. Like, frankly, almost every cryptid out there. I was really big on Ogopogo when I was a kid -- I'd read the book listed in my sources below when I was in elementary school, and for some reason, I adored Ogopogo on a level that I never did for Nessie -- but there's just no credible evidence for any kind of sea monster or sea serpent, especially not one that lives in an inland, freshwater lake.

Ogopogo seems to be considerably less well-known than the other major North American lake monster, Lake Champlain's Champ... but Ogopogo has a better name. Ogopogo got its own Canadian stamp in 1990. It's a side boss in Final Fantasy IV, it was an early codename and mascot for Microsoft Publisher 97, and it got prominently name-dropped in an episode of "The Venture Brothers," and there's absolutely nothing bad about that. On the other hand, Ogopogo was the inspiration for a 2005 movie called "Mee-Shee: The Water Giant," in which the monster, created by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, was modeled after Walter Matthau, a car salesman sold footage of a beaver to "Unsolved Mysteries" in 1989 and claimed it was Ogopogo, and the monster was featured on an episode of one of those "We'll believe anything" paranormal hunting shows on the History Channel called "MonsterQuest."

There's a statue of Ogopogo in Kelowna, British Columbia

"Monsters of North America" by Elwood D. Baumann, 1978, Xerox Education Publications, Middletown, Connecticut, pp. 90-103.

For SuperMegaNodeFestQuest 2012. Shazam! - Category: Monsters