Press-Republican

June 5, 2009

Something fishy seen in lake video, but is it Champ?&nbsp;<img src="http://static.cnhi.zope.net/images/icons/videoiconbullet.gif" width="19" height="12" border="0" alt="Includes video">

By LOHR McKINSTRY

ON THE NET

YouTube video: "Strange sighting on Lake Champlain"

http://is.gd/NA4Q

PORT HENRY — A Vermont man shot a cell-phone video that some people are calling a new sighting of the legendary Lake Champlain creature, Champ.

Eric Olsen, 37, a Web site developer and musician in Burlington, posted the two-minute video on YouTube.

He said he shot it Sunday at about 5:30 a.m. from Oakledge Park near the Burlington waterfront.

The blurry clip shows a swimming animal raise its head above water several times, then drop from sight.

Although many people are saying the creature could be Champ, Olsen isn't one of them.

"I put this up because it was strange, not because I think it is Champ," he wrote in his comments on YouTube. "I shot this video, with cellphone, of something in the lake at Oakledge Park on Sunday."

Olsen doesn't have a listed phone number.

He asked YouTube users if anyone else was in the park and saw the creature.

"Was anyone else out and about around Oakledge on Sunday just after sunrise who saw this as well?"

But after 73 postings, mostly from people who think he saw Champ, Olsen disabled YouTube's commenting capability for his video.

A comment poster using the name "talkinglake" was enthusiastic about the video.

"Looks Champ-like to me! And some who have seen such sights in the past were alarmed that our creature had died, but maybe life lives on! Yay. Cool vid."

Some users commented that Olsen had only joined YouTube on May 16 and had posted just three other videos.

But by early Wednesday, there had been more than 36,000 viewings of the video, which Olsen named "Strange sighting on Lake Champlain."

One of those was Joe Nickell, a cryptozoologist in Amherst, who told the Associated Press he believes that the creature was a young moose swimming in the lake.

Ellen Marsden, a biology professor at the University of Vermont, agreed with Nickell, telling the Burlington Free Press she thinks the animal could be a young moose in distress.

Olsen admits he doesn't know what it was.

Tracked down by a reporter for the Free Press, he told the paper, "It struck me as something that was long (and) that it didn't have much girth."

The Free Press contacted its own consulting cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman of Portland, Maine, who said a laboratory analysis would be necessary.

"The film needs to have a formal forensic analysis performed, to break it down frame by frame. It needs to be looked at very seriously."

Cryptozoology is the study of legendary or mythical creatures.

Since the Vermont-based Champ Quest group became inactive a few years ago, there has been no central clearinghouse for Champ sightings.

Last summer, there were few reported sightings of the legendary lake monster.

Its first sighting was in 1609 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain, who noted in his diary that he had seen a "sea serpent."

Hundreds of Champ sightings on Lake Champlain have been reported over the years, most from Bulwagga Bay in Port Henry and Button Bay near Vergennes, Vt.

Former Champ Quest Director Dennis Hall had shot video of a large creature swimming in Button Bay.

The most famous Champ photo was taken in 1977 by Sandra Mansi, now of Bristol, Vt. That photo of a long-necked creature was published in the New York Times.

Many people believe Champ is a large sturgeon, while others think it is a genuine prehistoric throwback, maybe a plesiosaur.

Whatever the animal was that Olsen saw, he told the Free Press that he never saw it leave the water.

He said he stopped filming after two minutes because his cell phone was running out of memory.

E-mail Lohr McKinstry at: lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com