Just when you thought the pandemic, elections and the economy would consume very last morsel of available news space, along comes a welcome – albeit monstrous of a different kind – story from good old reliable and generally peaceful Canada. A man on a recent vacation with his family on Okanagan Lake – the British Columbia home of the legendary Ogopogo lake monster – claims he saw something on the lake that made him think he’s the latest Ogopogo witness.
“It was a really calm day and no boats were passing by or anything. We were looking out at the water. Then, all of a sudden, we saw this weird formation of waves that were kind of going against the current of what was coming in.”
“(The waves) were “moving really weird” (for about 30 seconds).”
Hold on … isn’t there supposed to be something in between about a serpentine monster with multiple humps raising its head into the air and staring menacingly into the camera before diving back down to the depths of Okanagan Lake, causing those waves to move “really weird”? Well, if you’re a fan of the Ogopogo, you’ve probably come to expect that unusual waves are generally the best evidence you’ll get of the elusive legend. Adam Schwartz believes he saw the wake of the monster. (Video here.)
However, two different witnesses in August caught a black image amidst the splashes. Harpal Dhillon captured something on video two days in a row while standing on her lake dock in Vernon that seemed to be moving in the opposite direction of the waves. (Video here.) Another from an anonymous Kelowna man at about the same time seemed to show something long splash slightly above the wave. (Video here.) Global News is the local collector of Ogopogo videos and sightings accounts, but it’s missing out on a big opportunity to grab some more headlines from the rival Loch Ness monster by declaring things like ‘this is a record year for Ogopogo sightings’ or ‘prehistoric monster reminds Okanagan Lake residents it’s still around’. Instead, it does the right thing and brings in Ogopogo researcher Bill Steciuk.
“The crazy thing is, right now, it’s a turbulent time in Okanagan Lake. You have cold water coming up to the surface, creating all kinds of considerations. You have temperature differences, it could be a thermal wave of some type. It could also be a light reflection off the actual crests of the waves. So it could be a lot of things.”
Steciuk says the majority of Ogopogo sightings happen between the beginning of September and the middle of October, so he suspects some sort of weather/temperature/seasonal phenomenon might be the cause. Robert Young, an earth and environmental science professor at UBC Okanagan, agrees.
“When the winds stop, then the water settles and you have a considerable current going on and that can cause waves as well.”
Back in February 2020, he explained that Okanagan Lake is a big and deep body of water formed by glaciers that gave it a craggy, uneven bottom (no, you can’t blame yours on glaciers – try exercising). Winds in a different area of the lake can cause disturbances in the current – both above and below the surface -- that manifest on another part of the lake. Localized surface temperature changes water to become dense and sink, creating windless turbulence that causes waves. Physical obstacles like bridges can also cause them. As for the shapes? Waves cause shadows, particularly at dawn and dusk, that can deceive the eye of easily deceived wanna-believers. Throw in the pandemic forcing more people to stay home and stare out the window and you have more eyes being tricked by the waves – even without that hokey 24-7 camera that artificially boosts the sightings totals at Loch Ness.
“I think how people feel about a species in the lake has changed. Twenty years ago, everybody was pretty doubtful. But with the amount of species being found worldwide, every day, why couldn’t there be something in our lake?”
It sounds like Steciuk is a closet wanna-believer as well. As for Adam Schwartz, he told Global News he’s going back to Okanagan Lake in hopes of seeing Ogopogo up close and personal.
“If he could swim up next to me, that would be sweet.”
Just make sure you have your camera out, in focus with the battery fully charged.