A south Okanagan man is convinced he’s captured the most conclusive piece of evidence yet of the legendary and elusive lake monster in the Okanagan known as the Ogopogo.
Jim La Rocque was enjoying his mother-in-law’s lakefront property with his two children in Kaleden, B.C. on June 1 when he says he noticed an inexplicable wake on Skaha Lake.
“All I heard was like a swooshing sound, swoosh, swoosh,” he told Global News.
La Rocque scrambled to record the mysterious ripples breaking through the lake’s glassy surface.
His son was wading on a paddle board nearby.
“Eventually he turns and sees a flipper come out of the water and hit the water, and that’s when he… turned around and started coming back in,” La Rocque said.
WATCH: Did a Kelowna man capture Ogopogo on video? (September 2018)
The longtime Okanagan resident said he couldn’t believe his eyes.
La Rocque believes he witnessed a giant, serpentine creature swimming across the lake with at least seven fins paddling in sync.
He estimates it was at least 36 metres (120 feet) long.
“I’d describe it as like a dragon boat race, like with oars, so if you flipped the dragon boat upside down, you would see all those oars coming out of the water,” he said.
“This is, in my opinion, a definitive Ogopogo sighting,” he said. “It’s pretty creepy.”
La Rocque owns the Fairview Liquor Store in Penticton, B.C., and curious customers have been stopping by to get a glimpse of the cellphone video for themselves.
“I don’t know what it could be. That’s pretty weird, it’s not like normal waves,” customer Jesse Deuschle said.
“At first I was thinking maybe just waves, but there is obviously something more there,” liquor store employee Jack Holman said.
Tales of the snake-like creature — similar to Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster — have been making waves in the Okanagan for the past century.
According to Bill Steciuk, who runs a website documenting Ogopogo sightings, the legend dates back as early as the 1700s, when First Nations knew of a water beast in Lake Okanagan.
The Kelowna retiree, who has dedicated his life to proving the creature’s existence after his own encounter in 1978, is skeptical of La Rocque’s alleged sighting.
WATCH: Legend hunter reports two more Ogopogo sightings near Kelowna (September 2018)
“By watching this video, I don’t believe it’s evidence that a lake monster exists,” he told Global News.
“We have much better shots and videos here in the Okanagan over the years that would confirm a species of something in the lake.”
Steciuk said the majority of sightings are on Okanagan Lake, meaning the creature would have to travel through the Penticton dam and channel to reach Skaha Lake near Penticton.
“I believe that this used to be all one connecting lake, Okanagan and Skaha, and there’s rumours that there are caverns deep down, because the lake is so deep they still don’t know in spots how deep it really goes,” La Rocque said.
Steciuk, a self-proclaimed legend hunter, is also unconvinced based on the reported size of the creature.
“There’s never been really any reports of anything that big,” he said.
Robert Young, an environmental scientist at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus (UBCO) said there could be an explanation for the bizarre sight.
“I think it’s a product of overturn that happens seasonally where lake layers of different temperatures and depths will pass each other,” he said.
“Where the layers pass each other, they form a wake, these waves only form when there is no other waves to mix it.”
WATCH: What is the ‘Ogopogo wave’?
Young has studied the myth of the Ogopogo, and says emotions tend to overpower logic.
“People don’t like not knowing, they have to have an explanation… they come up with myths and legends… it’s not surprising to me that people would want to hang onto the idea of a mythical lake monster,” he said.
Regardless of any logic or explanation, La Rocque is still a believer, and if anything, it proves the legend is still very much alive.
“I can’t wait until everyone sees the video, it will make you a believer.”
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