How is the Ogopogo – the famous legendary monster of Okanagan Lake in British Columbia related to a haircut? Bear with me, dear readers, and you shall learn about strange creatures and stranger hairstyles.
Readers of a certain age or those who are fans of the movie “Grease” may have heard of a haircut from the 1950s and early 1960s called the D.A. Men would grease their hair with their favorite brand of pomade (a greasy, waxy styling substance) or hair cream, then comb the sides to the back. The teeth of the comb were then used to create a straight central part from the top of the head to the nape of the neck. From the rear, the man’s head looked like a duck’s tail or a duck’s ass – hence the less offensive “D.A.” description. Why are we talking about a haircut or a duck’s ass in an article about an Ogopogo sighting? Well, when a photo began circulating a few days ago that was said to be of the monster of Okanagan Lake, many people suggested it looked like a duck’s ass sticking up with the billed end of the bird plunged into the water looking for fish. While that would normally be the end of the discussion, the Ogopogo obviously has many fans … and those fans objected to that somewhat derogatory description. Is it a good sign of the times or a bad sign that the world of cryptozoology is arguing over a possible duck’s ass?
“We went on by and I got thinking about it, and I said to Myrna and my wife ‘that didn't look right, we’ve got to go look at that again’.”
The tale of the D.A./Ogopogo begins with Dale Hanchar. He told Global News that he, his wife Colleen and their friend Myrna Germaine Brown were sailing across Okanagan Lake when sharp-eyed Dale saw something unusual in the water. Being a responsible boater, he circled back for a closer look in case it was something dangerous that needed to be marked or something dead that needed to be removed. From a distance of 10 feet, they determined that a) they had no idea what it was, and b) it was of no danger to other watercraft. Collen took out her phone and got a picture. That was a mistake, because the trio looked at it when they got home, then zoomed in, and still couldn’t identify it. (Take a look at the photo for yourself here.)
“For one thing, the two nodular things are sticking up… whatever they are, those that are about three feet apart. And I've done some research since we took this picture and it's not a plant. It's not kelp because this is a lake it's not the ocean. It's not a sturgeon. It's not a dead deer upside down.”
Because this is Okanagan Lake, that process of elimination leads to only one conclusion … Ogopogo! For those unfamiliar with the beast, The Secwepemc and Syilx native people believed in an evil water spirit they called the Naitaka or "n'ha-a-itk," which means water demon or "sacred creature of the water." Naitaka was said to guard the lake like a marina operator – demanding a live animal as payment for using the lake. One legend tells of a visiting chief who refused to pay the toll – his canoe upended by the tail of the Naitaka, drowning the chief and his family. The Europeans also had tales of a creature that attacked horses and humans. Because of the many sightings, Ogopogo has become a Canadian rival to the Loch Ness monster in both legends and tourism dollars, so anyone doubting a sighting better have some good evidence to support their case or feel the wrath of believers and business owners.
“What caught my attention was the two protruding objects at the surface. But when I bring it onto a larger screen and zoom in, I see a water bird of some sort in the process of a dive either just right below the surface or in the process of coming up. The two protruding objects on the back would of course be its legs in some way, whether they're bent or they're kicking, but you can clearly see just below the surface an eye as well as its beak right at the top of the water line.”
Take a look at the picture again as you read the analysis of Adam Benedict, founder of The Pine Barrens Institute, an online cryptozoological, Midwest folklore, and historic newspaper reference site in Janesville, Wisconsin. Global News contacted Benedict and sent him the photo in question. Benedict gave the photo and the background story the benefit of the doubt, but he eventually labeled it a W.B.A. – water bird’s ass, which was shortened for both convenience and entertainment to D.A. If you can’t quite see what Benedict was describing, the folks at The Singular Fortean Society got it and outlined the duck in red. (See it here.) In response, they heard from some Ogopogo believers who had these comments:
"Yeah, I thought he was ridiculous for assuming it was some sort of waterfowl. I mean really, there's absolutely zero resemblance."
"What the hell does this guy see that he thinks it's an aquatic bird? I don't see anything that resembles a bird in this at all."
Those and other comments supporting the Ogopogo should not be surprising … a survey of British Columbia residents published this week by BC Hydro found that 34 per cent believe in spirits, 26 per cent believe in ghosts and over one third have encountered a supernatural being like a ghost or spirit – of those, the top creatures/cryptids/spirits/ others were Bigfoot/sasquatch (4 per cent), witches (6 per cent), demons (3 per cent), Ogopogo (2 per cent) and vampires (1 per cent). With a population of 5 million, that means 100,000 Ogopogo believers are demanding an apology from Adam Benedict. Good luck with that. As he responded via Singular Fortean:
“Don’t let your desire of wanting it to be a monster allow you to forget about actual animals also existing in the lake."
Not only are there ducks with asses in Okanagan Lake, there could also be guys and even gals with D.A. haircuts – “Grease” is still a popular movie, and if you think you look like the early John Travolta (or want to), why not go all the way with a D.A.?
And if you want to believe in the Ogopogo … go right ahead. There are plenty of other photos that don’t look like the head of Danny Zuko or the tail of Donald Duck.