Lake monster mystery

By Shanna Baker

Photo: Shanna Baker

John Kirk knows, without a doubt, that there’s something big lurking in Cameron Lake.

Locals have been spotting a strange creature, or creatures, swimming in the narrow, 12-kilometre-long scenic lake off Highway 4 on central Vancouver Island since at least the 1980s. In 2007, a visitor from Nanaimo produced compelling evidence—a photograph that seems to show one silvery serpentine creature chasing another. She noted a third, swimming off to one side.

Kirk and his team members from the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club (BCSCC), a group dedicated to researching biological creatures not yet catalogued by mainstream science, arrived to investigate in 2009. Near an area known as Angel Rock, where the lake bottom drops suddenly, they saw unusual, tantalizing blips on their fish finder.

In the fall of 2010, they returned. By midday, their sonar had located a couple of three-metre-long animals chasing a school of fish and later, a solo creature. They received additional readings of a single animal in two other areas.

“I was never optimistic from day one that there was anything in there but large fish,” says Kirk, who has been pursuing mystery animals, or cryptids, for 23 years. “But my mind has been changed by the circumstances.” Soon after the expedition, people started “coming out of the woodwork” with stories of encounters, he says.

Some have suggested that the Cameron Lake “monster” could be an oversized rainbow trout. The largest on record in Canada was 22 kilograms, though?far smaller than this creature is believed to be.

There’s also a chance that it’s an introduced freshwater sturgeon. Some reports can likely be dismissed as cases of misidentified beaver or otter sightings, adds Kirk.

Unknown creatures have been spotted at 42 lakes throughout the province to date. On Vancouver Island and in the Fraser Valley, locals have claimed sightings of monstrous black salamanders, up to two metres long, for years. The difference with this case is that the Cameron Lake sightings aren’t consistent—dark gray, silver, and terracotta coloured Cameron Lake monsters have all been reported.

“This is a real mystery now,” says Kirk. “We’ve gone way beyond sturgeon.”

The BCSCC members hope to continue their research in 2011. They’ll return with sophisticated sonar equipment, capable of capturing colour images, with the goal of finally revealing Cameron Lake’s secret.

Info: British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club (bcscc.ca/blog).

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