In Canadian folklore, the Ogopogo or Naitaka (Salish: n’ha-a-itk, “lake demon”) is a lake monster reported to live in Okanagan Lake, in British Columbia, Canada. The Ogopogo has been allegedly seen by First Nations people since the 19th century. The most common description of Ogopogo is a 40 to 50-foot-long (12 to 15m) sea serpent resembling an extinct Basilosaurus or Mosasaurus.
Though often referenced as a variant of the Loch Ness Monster, Ogopogo, actually made its media debut prior to supposed sightings of Nessie. In 1926, seven years before Nessie’s came to the public’s attention, Roy W. Brown, editor of the Vancouver Sun, wrote, ” Too many reputable people have seen [the monster] to ignore the seriousness of actual facts.”
The general appearance of Basilosaurus tallies almost exactly with the log-like descriptions of the creature known locally as Ogopogo, with the head has been described variously as being horse or goat-like. It is reported to be able to move with astounding speed but many sightings in calm weather have been made of the creature apparently feeding on either fish or aquatic weeds. Skeptic Benjamin Radford notes that “these First Nations stories were not referring to a literal lake monster like Ogopogo, but instead to a legendary water spirit.”
In 1926, a sighting is claimed to have occurred at an Okanagan Mission beach. This event was supposedly witnessed by about thirty cars of people who all claimed to have seen the same thing. In 1968, Art Folden filmed what is claimed to be footage of the alleged creature, showing a large wake moving across the water. A computer analysis of the footage concluded it was a solid, three-dimensional object. An investigation conducted by Benjamin Radford with Joe Nickell and John Kirk for the National Geographic Channel TV show Is It Real?, in 2005 revealed that the object Folden filmed was indeed a real animal but its size had been greatly overestimated. It was probably a water fowl or beaver too far away to be identified.
In 2011, a mobile phone video captured two dark shapes in the water, with a suggested explanation being that the video shows two logs. Radford analysed the video for Discovery News and concluded that “The video quality is poor and the camera is shaky, but a closer look at the 30-second video reveals that, instead of one long object, there are actually two shorter ones, and they seem to be floating next to each other at slightly different angles. There are no humps, nor head, nor form; only two long, darkish, more or less straight forms that appear to be a few dozen feet long. In short, they look a lot like floating logs, which would not be surprising since Lake Okanagan has tens of thousands of logs harvested by the timber industry floating just under the lake’s surface.”
Ogopogo in Popular Culture:
1924 a local named Bill Brimblecomb sang a song parodying a popular British music-hall tune at a Rotary Club luncheon in Vernon, a city in the northern Okanagan Valley. H.F. Beattie adapted the lyrics, which included the following:
1990: A Canadian postage stamp with an artist’s conception of the Ogopogo was issued.
2018: The Ogopogo was included as a vinyl figure variant in Cryptozoic Entertainment’s Cryptkins blind box toy line.
The logo for Kelowna, British Columbia’s Western Hockey League team, the Kelowna Rockets, depicts Ogopogo.
There is a statue of Ogopogo near the Kelowna Commercial Wharf in downtown Kelowna. Another statue of Ogopogo can be found at a children’s play park in Cultus Lake, British Columbia.
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