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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 1:22 EDT

Champ

Champ is a cryptid within the lake monster, sea serpent class of cryptozoology.

It is claimed to reside in Lake Champlain, which is partially located in the states of New York and Vermont of the United Sates, plus it extends into Quebec, Canada. The lake is 125 miles long, 14 miles across, approximately 400 feet deep, and covers a 490-square-mile area.

There have been over 300 reported sightings of Champ, but there is no scientific evidence that this cryptid exists.

The Iroquois and the Abenaki native American tribes that lived in the area near Lake Champlain had legends regarding Champ; the Abenaki tribe called it “Tatoskok”.

The first claim of a sighting of Champ was in 1609 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain, who was the founder of Quebec and the lake’s namesake. However, there is no record of the sighting. A 1970 article claims Champlain saw the creature while fighting the Iroquois tribe on the banks of the lake.

The next claim was in an article of the Plattsburgh Republican on July 24, 1819, where a Captain Crum supposedly sighted an enormous serpent in the lake.

The first actual report of a sighting came in 1883 by Sheriff Nathan H. Mooney who was on the shore of the lake and sighted what he said was a “gigantic water serpent about 50 yards away”. The creature was so close that Mooney said he could see, “round white spots inside its mouth. The creature appeared to be about 25 to 30 feet in length.”

After the report of this sighting, many others came forward and stated also seeing the creature. Late in the nineteenth century, P.T. Barnum posted a $50,000 reward for the carcass of champ. He wanted to add it to his World’s Fair Show.

In 1977 a photograph was taken by Sandra Mansi while she was on vacation with her family. The photo appears to be a plesiosaur-like body and neck protruding above the surface of the lake. The photo has been examined and according to experts, the photo is legitimate. Critics state that where the photo was taken, the depth of the water is no more then 14 feet so it would be impossible for a creature that size to be swimming there. They suggest it was possibly a rotting tree that was propelled by gasses omitted during the decaying process. The Mansi family reported they saw the creature turn its head and it moved in a way that it had to be alive.

While working with the Discovery Channel in 2003, the Fauna Communications Research Institute recorded a sound (echolocation) coming from under water. It was concluded by the group the sound was similar to a Beluga Whale or an Orca, but it was that of an unknown animal. They also concluded that only mammals are capable of making this type of sound, and no known species of freshwater animal, except for freshwater dolphins, porpoises, and beluga whales, are capable of using echolocation — none of these species reside in the lake.

A video of Champ was reportedly taken by a fisherman and his stepson in the summer of 2005. It shows a plesiosaur-like neck and head with an open mouth in one frame and a closed mouth in another. It has also been mentioned it could be either a large fish or eel.

Possible explanations of Champ sightings could be mis-identification of common animals like otters, beavers, eels, or sturgeons, which all reside in the lake. It could also be inanimate objects like logs, rotting vegetation or even waves. Or possibly hoaxes from people trying to get recognition, fame or fortune.

Others explain Champ as an actual creature being a plesiosaur, Basilosaurus, a giant eel, pinniped, or a Tanystropheus.

Image Credit: Thinkstock.com

Champ