Champ or Champy, is the name given to a reputed lake monster living in Lake Champlain, a natural freshwater lake in North America, partially situated across the US-Canada border in the Canadian province of Quebec.[1] While there is no scientific evidence for the cryptid's existence, there have been over 300 reported sightings. The legend of the monster is considered a draw for tourism in the Burlington, Vermont area.

Like the Loch Ness Monster, some authorities regard Champ as legend, others believe it is possible such a creature does live deep in the lake, possibly a relative of the plesiosaur, an extinct group of aquatic reptiles.

Cultural importance to Vermont


Lake Champlain is a 125-mile (201 km)-long body of fresh water that is shared by New York and Vermont and just a few miles into Quebec, Canada.

The Champ legend is unquestioned by many in the area and has become a revenue-generating attraction.[2] For example, the village of Port Henry, New York, has erected a giant model of Champ and holds "Champ Day" on the first Saturday of every August.

As the mascot of Vermont's lone Minor League Baseball affiliate, the Vermont Lake Monsters, Champ became more prominent after the team was renamed from the Vermont Expos to the Vermont Lake Monsters. Champ has been the primary attraction of the New York - Penn League affiliate since their inception. Several nearby establishments, including a car wash, use "Champ" as a logo.

History of the legend
Two Native American tribes living in the area near Lake Champlain, the Iroquois and the Abenaki, had legends about such a creature. The Abenaki called the creature "Tatoskok".[3][4][5][6]

An account of a creature in Lake Champlain was ostensibly given in 1609 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Québec and the lake's namesake, who is supposed to have spotted the creature as he was fighting the Iroquois on the bank of the lake.[1] However, in actuality no such sighting was recorded, and it has since been traced back to a 1970 article.[2]

The first reported sighting actually came in 1883 when Sheriff Nathan H. Mooney claimed that he had seen a “…gigantic water serpent about 50 yards away” [7] from where he was on the shore. He claimed that he was so close that he could see “round white spots inside its mouth” and that “the creature appeared to be about 25 to 30 feet in length”. Mooney’s sighting led to many eyewitnesses coming forward with their own accounts of Champ sightings. Mooney’s story predated the public Loch Ness controversy by 50 years.

Champ became so popular that the late P. T. Barnum, in the early 19th century, put a reward of $50,000 up for a carcass of Champ. Barnum wanted the carcass of Champ so that he could include it in his epic World’s Fair Show (Krystek 3).

Many believe that Champ may be a plesiosaur similar to “Nessie,” claiming the two lakes have much in common. Like Loch Ness, Lake Champlain is over 400 feet (120 m) deep, and both lakes were formed from retreating glaciers following the end of the Ice Age about 10,000 years ago. Believers also claim both lakes support fish populations large enough to feed a supposed sea or lake monster (Krystek 1). This legend would require either a single 10,000 year old animal, or a breeding population of thirty.[8]

Mansi photograph
In 1977, amateur photographer Sandra Mansi released a photograph that appeared to show a plesiosaur-like body and neck sticking out of the lake[9]. Mansi later showed the photo, which is similar to the famous "Surgeon's photo" of the Loch Ness Monster, to Joseph W. Zarzynski.

Zarzynski, founder of the Lake Champlain Phenomena Investigation and a Wilton, New York Social Studies teacher, took the photo to Gorge Zug of the Smithsonian Institute’s Department of Vertebrate Zoology. Zug states that the creature in the photo does not resemble any creature or animal living in Lake Champlain (Hall 1).

The entire bay of the lake where the photograph reportedly was taken is no deeper than 14 feet (4.3 m). According to Nickell, there are few explanations for how a giant creature could swim, let alone hide, in such shallow water.[2] Furthermore, some people have suggested that the object in the photograph could possibly be a rising tree trunk or log. Rotting trees often gather gas in the process of decay, and sometimes rise to the water's surface at considerable speed.

Recent reports
Champ reportedly can be seen in a video taken by fishermen Dick Affolter and his stepson Pete Bodette in the summer of 2005.[8] The video was once viewable on Youtube, but has recently been removed. In the video, something appears under the water near the fisherman's boat and some Champ defenders are calling it the best proof that the monster exists. Close examination of the images may be interpreted either as a head and neck of a plesiosaur-like animal and even an open mouth in one frame and a closed mouth in another; or as a fish or eel (see top link for frames). Although two retired FBI forensic image analysts, who reviewed the tape, said it appears authentic and unmanipulated, one of them added that "there's no place in there that I can actually see an animal or any other object on the surface."[1].

One piece of evidence, though not a "sighting" per se, is the recording of echolocation from within the lake by the Fauna Communications Research Institute in 2003, working as part of a Discovery Channel program. The group has concluded that the sounds they have recorded are similar to that of a Beluga Whale or perhaps an Orca, but not of a known animal, and no dolphin or whale species have been previously known to live in the lake.[10] Study of the Mansi Photo in this context has led to speculation that rather than a neck and head, the photo shows a flipper of some large animal in the act of rolling.[11]

Analysis of sightings
According to Nickell, the Affolter-Bodette account is just the latest in a long list of Champ sightings that describe a "chameleonesque creature that is black, gray, brown, moss green, reddish bronze or other color, and is between 10–187 feet long, with multiple humps or coils as well as horns or a mane or glowing eyes or "jaws like an alligator"—or none of those features."[12]

The interpretation of Champlain's original account as describing Champ has come under fire, with skeptics saying that it merely describes a large native fish that most likely was a gar, rather than the "20-foot serpent thick as a barrel, and a head like a horse," as described in recently embellished retellings.[2]

The sightings can be accounted for in any of a number of ways, including imaginative interpretations of real sightings of large fish like garfish or other sturgeon, schools of fish, and other aquatic animals. "For example, otters, swimming in a line, can mimic a single long, serpentine creature moving in an undulating fashion," Nickell writes. "Other Champ suspects include wind slicks, boat wakes, driftwood, long-necked birds, and many other possibilities. A contributing factor is "expectant attention", the tendency of people who, expecting to see something, are misled by anything resembling [what they are looking for]."

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