Thursday, May 05, 2016

Searching For 'Enigmas of the Deep'

By Katy Elizabeth - Our group, Champ Search, has captured video of these animals and in the summer of 2014 and 2015. We have also recorded many unknown low frequency sounds with our Dolphin-Ear Hydrophone system. This was the holy grail in our research. Not only did we capture footage of these animals on the surface, but we recorded their ultra low frequency vocalizations. (Videos can be found at 'Champ Search' Finds 'Champ?')

Since Lake Champlain is such a massive body of water, we narrowed down certain areas (where we have captured video and others have also witnessed these animals) to do our recordings. We stayed overnight aboard our research vessel and most of the recordings we captured were during twilight hours. It sure makes for a long night listening to three animals communicating back and forth! This to me indicates that these animals are mostly nocturnal and it seems to fit in with eyewitness reports of seeing "red glowing eyes" when a light source was shined upon them, a trait that is indicative of the American Alligator, which I believe this animal is possibly related to since many reports have described a reptilian animal with webbed feet, extremely long neck, dark in color (Brownish-Black to Greenish-Brown) seen on land.

This eye-shine of an alligator (and other nocturnal vertebrates) is caused by a layer of cells called the tapetum lucidum (a Latin phrase meaning "bright carpet"). This structure is located beneath the photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) in the retina and reflects light back into these cells to increase the amount of light detected, which improves an alligator's vision in low light conditions. In alligators this eye-shine is red, but it can be different colors in other species. The American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) also communicates underwater using vibrations from a low-frequency bellowing and this sound travels considerable distances in water, advertising an individual's presence.

A few more traits that these animals are in possible relation to the American Alligator is the on land reports. One of these reports was by Christine Hebert. In 2013, I had the privilege to interview her. Here is her story: "We just put the walk out and you'll see the lamp, now the lamp is right where he came out to light and he stopped, where the new cement ramp is. He looked all around and, even though I looked at him, I couldn't even see him moving. Then he turned around and went out in the Lake. He wasn't laying down in the water his head stuck up. He looked like a dinosaur. His head was up, maybe the head and the body, and it went into the water. Then there was a hump. He was pea green. He looked all moldy to me and that's all I could think of. I was so tired I didn't realize what I saw. Maybe a week or two later, my mother was with me in that window up on the right. The same thing happened again. Only this one came that came out of the woods was smaller and it was brown. It was not pea green." Eyewitnesses have also reported smelling a 'musky pungent odor' in the nearby mash systems near the Lake. During my research, I discovered that Bull Alligators also give off a musky pungent odor if they feel threatened.

1873- Local legend told of a cave on the Chapman farm in the Dresden area of the Lake that was supposed to be inhabited by reptilian monsters, many observers claiming to have seen “bright and hideous looking eyes” in the darkness there.

Champ is not the only unidentified aquatic creature reported in the area. Lake Memphremagog is also home to a population of creatures. The descriptions of Memphre are uncannily similar to Champ. The on land sightings in particular and again the reports of “Red-glowing eyes” when a light is shined upon them. What is also interesting is these animals also appear to be attracted to a light source and again are seen during twilight hours. In my opinion, it would be ridiculous to say there is a population of Alligator's in Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog but whatever these animals may be, they do withhold many reptilian traits that are extremely similar (as seen in these reports) minus the aggression part (we would have a lot of missing person cases if these were in fact alligator's :) )

Dr. Curtis Classen, a military surgeon from Brooklyn, New York, owned a house on Lake Memphremagog. On October 26, 1935, he was burning brush on the shore when he looked out at the water. He saw an unfamiliar reptile that appeared very much like an Alligator. As the creature crawled out of the water onto shore, Classen ran to the house to get his wife and her friend. All three reached the lake in time to see the animal take off into the water, leaving nothing behind but prints. The witnesses estimated the creature was 18 inches wide and around 10 feet long. Dr. Classen was laughed at. He consulted a zoologist who told him that an alligator might be able to survive in the Lake if it lived in proximity of a warm spring. There were warm springs that fed the lake at Bay View Point.

Helen Hicks of Newport VT, was relaxing with some friends on a warm, clear summer night on a boat. Around 10 pm., she saw a creature which has a face similar to a horse, with two very large red eyes, the neck appeared to be very long, the back had an appearance of very large scales. A spotlight was put on it from the boat, it then started to come for the boat. It rolled over...causing the boat to become very tippy.

Our organization, Champ Search, is the only full time organization in the world dedicated to identifying and, most importantly, protecting these unique animals that continue to thrive in Lake Champlain. Our research vessel 'Champtany,” is equipped with many pieces of equipment to suit our needs out on the lake. Monocular's, bio-sonar, night vision cameras, hydrophones, and under water camera systems. Our main goal is to officially identify these creatures to the scientific community and, most importantly, protect this unique species. They are protected locally by the states of New York and Vermont. We want National protection. For now, we plan on continuing our extensive research with the hopes that, come summer, we can share some amazing discoveries.

Our research is not limited to just Lake Champlain. We have begun research in two additional lakes in the area. Lake Willoughby and Lake Memphremagog . We also have an expedition planned for the summer of 2017 to investigate Loch Ness. Perhaps, we are one step closer to identifying these 'Enigmas of the Deep.' Time will tell.

For more information about our research you can go to our facebook page:

NOTE: Katy Elizabeth will be our guest on Arcane Radio on May 18th

Click the 'Listen Live' link or go to Arcane Radio 'Listen & Chat'
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