I received the following email this morning (Monday). I spoke to the witness later in the day:
Hello - I found your email address on Google and decided to write you. I live in Kalamazoo, MI and have lived in the area for most of my life. North of me is Lake Leelanau, a place where I have camped and fished for many years. I know the lake very well and have been on it hundreds of times.
In June of this year, my wife and I took our RV to Leelanau Pines for a week. This campground is in the lower west side of the lake. On the last day of our trip I was heading back to the boat launch after an hour or so on the lake when I noticed something sticking out of the water. It was about 300 ft. from shore. It looked like a long thick piece of black rubber until it suddenly dove back into the water. I cut the motor and sat and watched.
A few minutes later I noticed surface movement about 50 ft from me. It looked like a very thick black snake. It shimmered in the sunlight as it skirted across the water. The head was broad like a viper but about 10 inches wide. The body was about 5 foot long. It didn't seem to have any appendages. The body tapered to a lizard-like tail. I watched it for about 20 seconds until it plunged back into the depths.
The head looked like that of a pit viper but it was definitely not a snake. The body at it's widest point was about 20-25 inches across with a slight ridge running down the back. I thought that it may be a large turtle at first but as I watched it I soon realized that this was something entirely different.
Can you give me an idea what this was? I have asked a few friends who are also outdoorsmen and they are stumped. I appreciate your help. SN (name and personal information was removed from the original email)
NOTE: I contacted SN and received a quick response. We later talked by phone. I believe SN truly witnessed something unique. Does anybody have an opinion to what this was? I later learned that there was an obscure 'monster' encounter at Lake Leelanau in 1910. I dug up what I could find...there wasn't much to offer. Lon
Here is the origin of the 'monster' encounter:
A boy was fishing for perch one day in 1910 in the shallows of Lake Leelanau in Leelanau County. The lake had been dammed in the late 1800's to provide water power for the local mill and to enable logging. The dam also flooded much surrounding area, turning it into swamps and bogs punctuated by dead, standing trees.
On that particular day, William Gauthier, rowed out to a new fishing spot near the town of Lake Leelanau. Looking for good perch habitat, he paddled up close to a tree that he estimated to stand about five feet tall above the water, with a six-inch trunk. He was in about seven feet of water, and after deciding this would be a good place to stop and cast a line, began tying the boat to the tree.
That's when young William discovered the tree had eyes. They were staring him dead in the face at about four feet above water level. The boy and serpent exchanged a long gaze, then the creature went, "Bloop" into the water. Gauthier said later that the creature's head passed one end of the boat while the tail was still at the other end, though it was undulating very quickly through the water. Gauthier always admitted to having been thoroughly frightened by his encounter, and that the event caused him to stay off that lake for many years.
William came from a prominent area family and was very well-educated, and that he knew others who would admit privately but not publicly that they, too, had seen the creature. No sightings have been reported in recent times, but who knows how many people have believed they were passing by a rotting old cedar when in fact they had just grazed the Leelanau lake monster? - absolutemichigan.com
Sometimes known as “Carp Lake,” Lake Leelanau...which, translated from the local Ojibwa language, means 'delight of life', actually consists of two adjacent lakes, which are located in Leelanau County, Michigan. The north lake has a reported depth of over 120-feet, while the southern lake only goes down to about 62-feet, nevertheless both lakes are the alleged habitat of the monster, that the locals have dubbed “Leelanau.”
There is currently no physical evidence that would suggest a creature like Leelanau is or ever was living in Lake Leelanau. As far as SN's sighting...we'll see if anything develops. Lon
Encyclopedia of Lake and River Monsters
Lake Monster Mysteries: Investigating the World's Most Elusive Creatures