Monday, 27 September 2010

Cameron Lake Monster Mystery Expanding

Thursday, September 16, 2010

vancouversun - John Kirk is elated when an unusual blip registers on the fish-finder.

"Whoa, hello!" the scientist calls out as he studies the sonar screen with colleague Adam McGirr. Both men are researchers with the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club — monster-hunters, in other terms.

On Tuesday, the pair was cruising the waters of Cameron Lake in search of a creature that has been the topic of local legends for years. The B.C. Scientific Cryptozoology Club first visited the area in September 2009 after an invitation from Oceanside Tourism to probe for evidence of the Cameron Lake monster.

They weren't able to shed much light on the mystery, but two large strikes on a fish-finder prompted the team to return. Last year, poor weather and equipment troubles bogged down the expedition.

It was a large fish — not a lake monster — that sparked a brief moment of excitement Tuesday afternoon as the researchers showed reporters a few of their methods. But earlier that morning, Kirk, who is president of the BCSCC, said the team encountered two large hits on the fish-finder that they couldn't explain.

They were found near the Pacific Rim Highway at a spot known as Angel Rock — close to the same spot where cryptozoologists encountered two fish-finder strikes last year and also where a number of people reported seeing the creature.

Kirk is convinced there's something unusual lurking beneath the surface of Cameron Lake, but the chances of it being a previously undiscovered monster-like animal is "way out in left field."

There's not enough food in the area to support a massive aquatic creature — and with a maximum depth of about 64 metres, it wouldn't have much room in which to hide.

A likelier scenario, he said, is that the monster rumours were sparked by the presence of massive sturgeon, which could have been released into the lake years ago as a prank.

"There's something in the lake for sure, there's no question about that," said Kirk, whose team has also hunted for evidence of the legendary Ogopogo on B.C.'s Okanagan Lake.

McGirr, the club's chief technologist, said Cameron Lake is "fairly deep" for an inland lake and the water is quite cold in some spots, creating a decent environment for sturgeon.

But abnormally large trout could also be behind the mystery. McGirr said a cutthroat trout weighing about 45 kilograms was caught in the Northwest Territories. There have been reports of other freakishly large animals in B.C. as well — including a six-foot-long black salamander at Pitt Lake, he added.

Human meddling seems the likeliest explanation for a non-native species, such as sturgeon making its way into an inland lake; Little Qualicum Falls presents a major obstacle to what is apparently Cameron Lake's only link to the ocean.

The club also will examine whether there is an aquifer between Horne and Cameron lakes that the creature could have passed through.

BCSCC has received reports of 15 sightings dating back to the 1980s, with most people seeing it during sunny summer days. Also, some witnesses have reported seeing three creatures at the same time.

Oceanside Tourism, which helped funded the BCSCC's visits to Cameron Lake, hopes media attention will give the local tourism sector a boost. About half a dozen reporters responded to an invitation to join the cryptozoologists on the lake Tuesday and last year the association issued a news release enticing travel media to write "on the many eclectic man-made, natural and possibly supernatural attractions found in the region."

Tourism officials say they don't expect tales of the lake creature to be a major draw. But a little mystery doesn't hurt, they add.
(Submitted by T. Peter Park)

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