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Igopogo

Photograph of 1976

Igopogo
 is a legendary cryptozoological creature which is rumored to dwell in Lake SimcoeOntarioCanada. The creature's name is ostensibly based on the Ogopogo, of Lake OkanaganBritish Columbia, and also the title 1952 book I Go Pogo, a slogan often mentioned in the comic. It is also called "Kempenfelt Kelly" after the bay that extends from the lake into the city of Barrie, Ontario.

According to legend, the Igopogo is described with a relatively canine-esque head, differing from other well-known cryptozoological creatures. Because of this, many believers have speculated that it is related to such canine-like aquatic animals as theIrish crocodile; also known as the Dobhar-chu.[1] According to eyewitness accounts, the creature has also been seen basking in the sun for extensive periods of time; implying that it is able to breathe air.[2]

This long necked, dorsal finned, canine-featured critter is one of the most unusual lake beasts reputed to dwell in North America.

Located in Southern Ontario — just 40-miles north of Toronto — Lake Simcoe is the fourth-largest lake in the province and a remnant of the colossal, prehistoric freshwater sea known as Lake Algonquin. Algonquin’s basin also included Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Nipigon and Lake Nipissing. When the ice dam melted at the end of the last ice age it dramatically reduced water levels in the region, leaving behind the lakes we see today.

In the 17th century the lake was known by the Huron natives as “Ouentironk” or “Beautiful Water.” In 1687, the Lahontan people changed it to Lake Taronto, an Iroquoian term meaning gateway or pass. Finally, in 1793, by John Graves Simcoe — the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada — renamed the lake in memory of his father, Captain John Simcoe.

This relatively small, island riddled, oval shaped body of water, which is approximately 20-miles long and 16-miles wide, is known for its clean water, fantastic fishing and, most notably, the bizarre beast that’s said to lurk within its gloomy, freshwater depths.

This unusual animal was dubbed Igopogo — no doubt, in honor of her famous cousins OGOPOGO of Lake Okanagan and MANIPOGO of Lake Manitoba — by the local fishermen.

That having been stated, there seems to be a bit of a rivalry over the beast’s appellation as, depending on whether or not you hail from Kempenfelt Bay or Beaverton, the monster’s has a few alternate nom de plumes, including “Kempenfelt Kelly,” “Beaverton Bessie” — which is, in and of itself, an homage to Lake Erie’s more notorious BESSIE — and even “Simcoe Kelly.”

It was even suggested by George M. Eberhart in his book “Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology” that its most famous name, “Igopogo,” comes from Walt Kelly’s seminal comic strip “Pogo,” which featured a cadre of memorable swamp critters, including one who ran a mock presidential campaign utilizing the slogan: “I GO POGO.”

Considered by many cryptozoologists to be unique, even amongst her amazing peers, Igopogo is a rarely seen beast, which has been described as having a neck which resembles a “stove-pipe,” crowned by an unusual canine-like head.

This ostensibly mammalian description — which, it must be admitted, has in no way remained consistent throughout the many years of Igopogo sightings — has led some to speculate that this creature may biologically akin to AQUATIC ENIGMAS such as the notorious “Irish crocodile” the DOBHAR-CHU or even the AustralianBUNYIP.

While tales of this cryptid go as far back as aboriginal legends and accounts from the earliest Europeans to settle the area, the first modern report hails from July 22, 1963.

The eyewitnesses involved with this sighting, including one Reverend  L.B. Williams, claimed that they saw not a typically mammalian, but a serpentine creature — not unlike Newfoundland’s eel-like CRESSIE — with multiple dorsal fins, that was anywhere from 30 to 70-feet in length, undulating in the water. It was also described as having a “charcoal covered” epidermis

This creature was allegedly captured on film while two, uncharacteristically calm, children watch from the shore. While there is no written account of when or by whom the obviously aged, black and white image was snapped, it remains an intriguing — if somewhat controversial — piece of potential photographic evidence of Igopogo’s existence.

Over two decades later, on June 13, 1983, William Skrypetz — a sonar operator with Lefroy’s Government Dock and Marina — took sonar reading which revealed a creature with a massive body and long tapering neck that seemed to look very much like the archetypal LAKE MONSTERS such as CHAMP or the LOCH NESS MONSTER.

During the 1980′s — author, cryptozoologist and president of the BCSCC (British Colombia Scientific Cryptozoology Club) — JOHN KIRK III, investigated this phenomenon and came to the conclusion that whatever might have lived in the lake had either migrated or had become deceased.

Kirk’s assessment of the situation was not without merit, as the sightings of this animal — with the notable exception of Skrypetz sonar hit — had dwindled to virtually nothing since the 1970′s. Kirk’s opinion of this creature’s status changed in 1991, however, when he was given a copy of a videotape by former British army officer and fellow cryptozoologist, Don Hepworth.

The video — which was purportedly shot from the shores of Lake Simcoe during that same year — apparently shows a terrifying lake demon rearing its head during a hydroplane race.

According to the unnamed videographer’s account, one of the racers her knew suffered a mechanical breakdown while on the south end of the lake and was forced to halt and make repairs. Just as the racer lifted the engine hatch in order to assess the damage, a large animal suddenly surfaced directly in front of him, stunning the racer as well as the spectators on the shoreline.

The landlocked crowd began to panic, fearing the worst for the downed competitor. The racer himself would later claim that this possibly prehistoric apparition would continue to stare at him it slowly lowered its head, finally submerging completely beneath the water.

Apparently, Kirk — upon repeated viewing of the controversial footage — confirmed that this creature was 9 and 12 feet long and had mammalia or, what he believed to be, pinniped (seal- or sea lion-like) features. Unfortunately the quality of the video and proximity of the creature to the camera did not allow for a more thorough investigation of its species.

This video evidence — which is infamously difficult to find — has raised the profile of this creature considerably, yet skeptics continue to insist that what people are seeing is nothing more than normal seals who have slipped into the lake via the rivers that connect it to Lake Huron. Still others think it may be related to the now famous Pacific Ocean dwelling SEA MONSTERS known as CADBOROSAURUS.

While the “seal” theory may debunk some of the unusual sightings, it in no way explains away the strange sonar hit reported in 1983. Even now, a decade into the 21st century, Lake Simcoe remains one of the most under explored cryptid habitats remaining in North America.

Igopogo is reported to be an unusual lake mammal sighted occasionally in Canada’s Lake Simcoe, located roughly an hour north of Toronto. Undoubtedly named for its more famous cousin Ogopogo, Igopogo is often described as a relatively small creature, measure no more than 12 feet in length with a head that resembles that of a dogs sitting atop a long, stove pip like neck. Its distinctly mammalian features have remained consistent through the years, a description which sets it apart from other so called lake monsters, which are generally described as being more reptilian or serpent like.

During the 1980’s author, cryptozoologist and president of the British Colombia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, John Kirk III, investigated stories of Igopogo and came to the conclusion that what ever people had seen in the lake either migrated to a new location or had become extinct. It was easy to see how Kirk came up with his assessment of the situation as he him self did not find any evidence of the creature and sightings of Igopogo remained few and far between after the 1970’s. However Kirk’s opinion of Igopogo quickly changed in 1991 when he was given a copy of a videotape which was reportedly taken from the shores of Lake Simcoe in March of that same year.

This videotape was apparently shot during a hydroplane race on Lake Simcoe, the racers in the video experienced engine troubles and was forced to stop and make repairs near the south end of the lake. As the racer lifted the engine hatch to assess the damage a large animal suddenly surfaced directly in front of him, much to the surprise of the racer as well as the spectators standing on the shore, including the person who shot the video. The encounter did not last long as the creature slowly disappeared back into the water.

Statements later made by John Kirk suggested that he believed the creature in the video to be a form of marine mammal known as pinnipeds. Seals and sea lions two pinnipeds known to travel into the St. Lawrence Seaway and occasionally up into the surrounding lakes, but one making it as deep into Canada as Lake Simcoe, thought not impossible, has never been heard of before. Perhaps the canine like faces reported by eyewitnesses over the years really was just an adventurous seal or sea lion, which do have a rather canine appearance at times, but there are those investigators who believe that Igopogo was something harder to explain than a random rogue seal or seal lion. These investigators suggest that Igopogo could be a distant relative of the many other, more famous, Canadian lake monsters such as Ogopogo and Manipogo.

The Evidence With the whereabouts of the hydroplane footage currently unknown, there remains no physical evidence of Igopogo’s existence.

The Sightings In 1991, a hydroplane racer reportedly had a face to face run in with Igopogo as he leaned over his boat to fix his engine.

The Stats – (Where applicable)

• Classification: Lake Monster • Size: Roughly 12 feet in length • Weight: Unknown • Diet: Unknown • Location: Lake Simcoe, Canada • Movement: Swimming • Environment: Lake

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