; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Child-Sized 'Aquatic Humanoid' Encounter Reported in Lake Erie

The Singular Fortean Society was recently put in contact with John Giancola, who claimed to have once seen a strange, childlike head with large, black eyes poking out of the water of Lake Erie during a family vacation.

Giancola first sent the report of his sighting to Paul Bestall of the Mysteries & Monsters podcast after listening to an appearance by researcher Travis Watson. Bestall passed the report along to Watson, who sent it to the Singular Fortean Society.

"Listened to the show and couldn't find a way to tell this to Watson so I'm emailing you. Back in the '80s, my family would go to Geneva-on-the-Lake in Ohio (Lake Erie) to stay at a cabin every summer. One time, I was out past the rock pier things playing on an innertube, and I saw what looked like a head from the mouth up about 20 yards farther out. 

I knew I was the only kid out there at the time, so I was really confused about who it could have been. I watched it for maybe half a minute, then looked back at the beach to see who it might be, but everyone was still on the beach. When I turned around it was gone. Thought maybe it was a log, but I spent the rest of the day watching because it scared me a lot but nothing else surfaced.

It's one of those childhood memories that was so profound that when I think about it, I feel like I'm back in that moment. If you can forward this to him that would be great. I've only told one other person about this because who would believe such a thing?"

In a series of correspondence provided to the Society by Watson, Giancola described the head as dark, hairless, and human-sized.

"I want to say merpeople, but is that really a thing?" he asked Watson.

Watson responded, “Merpeople actually are a thing. I have a chapter on them in Canadian Monsters and Mysteries. I found several Canadian stories related to them in my research, both at sea and in the lakes of Canada. First Nations people in some areas seem to refer to them as the ‘gods’ of bodies of water and they are associated with storms and other rough water events if antagonized.”

Tales of aquatic humanoids exist in many cultures across the world.

The Greeks had Nereids, for example, which were water nymphs typically associated with small bodies of water, while in Scandinavian folklore exists the Nøkken, a supernatural shapeshifter that often appears in human form. 

Watson also inquired if perhaps Giancola might have seen a diver in a wetsuit, but that idea was eventually dismissed.

"I don't know what the area looks like now, but back in the '80s there were not any docks nearby and you'd see tankers going by more often than personal watercraft," Giancola said. "There were no boats nearby."

After receiving permission to contact the witness, investigator Tobias Wayland sent Giancola a list of questions in an attempt to garner more details about the sighting; including inquiries into the approximate date of the sighting, its location, and any additional information that Giancola could remember about what he’d seen.

"I was probably 11 or 12 [years old], so summer of '85 or '86 [is when the incident took place], I would say. [...] At the time I was the only one in the water," Giancola replied to Wayland. "At the end of the pier the water was too deep for an adult to stand, and I was another 20 yards or so past that, so [the creature] had to be floating. I couldn’t make out any details other than it appeared to be child-sized and it was dark. It looked to have larger eyes that were black. Every once in a while, you'd see a branch or something float by but when I looked up and saw this, I felt like it was looking back at me, and it scared me. It only lasted maybe 10 seconds, and when I turned to look at the beach and looked back it was gone."

"I don’t remember anything [else paranormal] happening around that time but I always got weird vibes in the cottage and actually about the water there," he added.

Wayland asked Giancola if he had considered whether or not it could have been a prosaic animal, such as an otter, but the man replied that he did not think it was.

"I just looked at a bunch of pictures of otters and no it did not look like that," he said. "One thing that really sticks out other than the shape of the head is the otter's ears. What I saw looked like it may have not even had ears, or they were super flush with its head."

Although what exactly Giancola saw remains a mystery, the encounter has had an effect on him—one noted by both Watson and Wayland and expressed in the man’s willingness to speak openly about his sighting.

Like many witnesses to the unexplained, what Giancola ultimately hopes for is that he is not alone in his experience.

"It's a weird encounter, but I saw what I saw and I'm not ashamed of it," he said. "I really hope someone else has had a similar encounter."

An exact location given by Giancola for the encounter has been sent to Ohio-based investigator Ashley Hilt. Any new information provided by her investigation will be published as it is received.

Have you had a sighting or encounter?
Contact me by email - Thanks. Lon

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PHANTOMS & MONSTERS FORTEAN RESEARCH ROUNDTABLE - Current Investigations - Lon Strickler (Host)

Phantoms & Monsters Radio presents a Phantoms & Monsters Fortean Research Roundtable discussion. We will be discussing current investigations and other cryptid / unexplained incidents & sightings. Joining Lon will be James West, Chad Redding, Kit Taylor, & Bernadette McDaniel.

James West is a 2-time Dogman experiencer, has had multiple encounters with the paranormal including shadow people/creatures, suspected demons, and ghosts, and has been physically possessed on one occasion by an unknown dark entity. James is also currently in the process of writing a nonfiction book about cryptid beings in the United States, entitled "50 Cryptids in 50 States." In addition to this, James is a member of Phantoms and Monsters Fortean Research.


Chad M. Redding grew up in the Pigeon Hills region of western York County, Pennsylvania. A lifetime of roaming the woods, hills, and hollows led Chad to develop his passions and skills as a woodsman. Very much an avid lover of old traditional ways and old things. His love of the forests and mountains know no bounds. For he has camped, rambled, gathered, canoed, and fished. In all 4 seasons.

As a lover of local history and folklore, wanderer of forgotten places, and life-long experiencer of the strange. Chad also contributes to and works with Timothy Renner of Strange Familiars Podcast.

Chad has also given back to the community, woodsman or otherwise. For as a traditionalist, he believes that knowledge should be passed on. From demos at various festivals, his foraging walks he gives regularly, on the various charity campouts he has organized. He has sought to help others and educate them.

Chad became the proprietor of Ruck Rabbit Outdoors a company that supplies old-style crafted, curated, refurbished, and surplus gear to the woods folk community.

Chad is a member of Phantoms and Monsters Fortean Research.


Kit Taylor is a film and Television actor, writer, producer, and documentarian. His latest work includes a short documentary on the Fayetteville Incident (the Bledsoe Family story) titled "Burden of Truth."

Kit was an investigator for MUFON and has recently become a member of the Phantoms & Monsters Fortean Research team. Having first-hand, life-altering experiences, Kit's approach to investigating is from an empathetic point of view and hopes to contribute positively, to the world of high strangeness.


Bernadette McDaniel, Phantoms & Monsters Fortean Research member will co-host this episode. Bernadette will soon be hosting 'A Paranormal Life' on Phantoms & Monsters Radio.

Join us on Friday, September 2nd at 9PM ET / 6PM PT





We are asking the worldwide public to come forward with your sightings & encounters. Contact us by email - Thanks. Lon

Have you had a sighting of a winged humanoid or huge bat-like creature in the Chicago, Illinois metro area / Lake Michigan region? The entity has also been referred to as the 'Chicago Mothman', 'Chicago Owlman' & 'O'Hare Mothman.' - Chicago / Lake Michigan Winged Humanoid Regional Interactive Map - Please feel free to contact me at lonstrickler@phantomsandmonsters.com - your anonymity is guaranteed. Our investigative group is conducting a serious examination of his phenomenon. We are merely seeking the truth and wish to determine what eyewitnesses have been encountering. Your cooperation is truly appreciated.






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