The photograph by Bridget Horvath in August of 2007 is said to be of the Cameron Lake cryptid.
John Kirk confers with Adam McGirr about what lies beneath the boat. Neil Horner photo.
The British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club have returned from their weekend exploration of Cameron Lake in British Columbia.
John Kirk was realistic about what they might discover, as he began the weekend. As he scanned the choppy lake surface with his binoculars, he reported that it was unlikely that a body of water as small as Cameron Lake could serve as a home to a creature that has been estimated by some to be as long as 12 feet or more, which he said the number of reports seems to indicate that people are seeing something real.
“When it’s choppy like that, there’s no hope for surface observation,” he said.
Regarding the photograph by area resident Bridget Horvath in August of 2007, John Kirk was subdued:
It could be a number of things. A bunch of otters swimming in a line can look uncannily like Ogopogo. So can swimming beavers or muskrats. Another possibility is that it could be a sterile eel, which can get up to 12-feet long. It could also be a sturgeon, although there are no reports of sturgeon being caught in this lake.
Horvath, who lives in Nanaimo, said she was driving along Highway 4 on July 30, 2007, when she saw a strange semi-circle in the lake.
“You could see like a serpent shape,” said Horvath, who isn’t the only person to report something strange in Cameron Lake.
“It wasn’t logs,” she said. “It wasn’t waves. There were no boats in the area. It was, like, right there. You could actually see a large fish, (an) object, no, not an object, something alive.”
Or it could be what’s called “windrows,” Kirk wonders, instead of a monster like the local sea serpent Cadborosaurus.
[A windrow] is basically a wake that’s created by the wind. You can even get the effect of whitecaps on the font, but it’s not an animal. It’s just the wind. The lake is very small. There are lots of fish in it, but I don’t know how an apex predator could survive here, unless it can make its way to the ocean through underground tunnels.
As the expedition began for Adam McGirr, the club’s technology expert, he remarked that while he didn’t expect to see a cryptid, he was hoping the underwater camera and fish finder would assist in obtaining a visual image of whatever is down there:
This will help us look at the bottom of the lake in certain areas. When it gets too deep, towards the middle, it will help us see the average size of the fish here. As well, there are reports of a couple of rocks submerged in the water that could be mistaken for a creature when the wind whips up, making it look like water spraying over the back of something, so we would like to take a look at that, too.
Someone staying at the Cameron Lake Resort saw a really big object on their fish finder, so we might end up getting a signature of something really big, too. There’s a rumour of there’s a plane that went down in the lake some 15 or 20 years ago, down there, so we’ll see if it shows up on the fish finder as something long and potentially monster-like.
The team also included Horvath and fellow club member Sebastian Wang.
The weekend was not without its curses. The first boat, supplied by the Oceanside Tourism Association, proved to be too big to launch from the beach and had to be driven back to Port Alberni and replaced with a smaller one.
Then, on Saturday, they found it was blustery, bringing whitecaps to the lake and making surface observations of ripples or wakes virtually impossible.
Neil Horner of Parksville Qualicum Beach News observed:
Once the second boat got underway, the underwater camera search proved short-lived. Mere minutes after Kirk and McGirr lowered the camera over the side by its 50-foot cable, they found out the water was too dark to see anything much with it. Worse was to follow.
As the boat made a turn to circle back to the beach to drop off one group of media and pick up another, Kirk, who was manipulating the cable, felt it jerk and pull, before going ominously slack.
The cable had been sliced cleanly in two by the boat’s propeller, leaving the camera to sink to the lake bottom, some 70 feet below.
Clearly disappointed with the setback, the team returned to the beach, where more trouble loomed.
As the second group prepared to board, the boat swamped, forcing team members to bail frantically with whatever was at hand — from a hand pump to paddles.
As the second media tour headed out into the whitecaps, McGirr was philosophical.
I’m not too upset about the camera, although I’m a little disappointed. We had a good look around yesterday and we are not giving up yet. This mission was just the first exploration. It’s like fishing. If you dangle a line for just five minutes, you aren’t likely to catch anything. Patience is a virtue.
Then some success near Angel Rock.
Something just went ‘ping’ on the alarm on the fish finder and we saw this absolutely massive object in the midst of various fish.
Just off Angel Rock we encountered a very large hit on the fish finder. It was far larger than any fish we had encountered that day. To ensure that is was not a misreading or a school of fish moving through the area, we went over that area four times in 20 minutes and each time the object was in the vicinity each time we passed over. It appears to be organic, but that is all I can tell you.
We found it very unusual for there to be something that big in the lake, so it has prompted us to start making plans to return to the lake next summer — if we get the kind of sponsorship we did this time. I am still not convinced there is a cryptid in the lake, but there is something very large. It could be an eel, a sturgeon, a large fish or even a semi-waterlogged tree trunk, but it may also be a unknown animal and we are obliged to put this story to rest, one way or another.
We were quite stunned that there was something that big in the lake and it was in about 60 feet of water, less than 30 yards from shore, it was quite amazing.
Maybe it’s a sturgeon, maybe it’s a giant sterile eel….it could be a massive type of salamander. Or it could be something that we’re completely unaware of at this point.
I’m not going to the extent to say there’s anything exotic down there, there’s just something big.
Could it be Cadborosaurus? That cryptid was adopted as an unofficial tourism mascot in the Victoria area, and Kirk feels it is real because fishermen found one inside the belly of a sperm whale in 1937 and sent it to the Royal B.C. Museum for identification.
“We’ve had what you might say in scientific terms is the type-specimen there,” said Kirk.
“Most people describe this thing as an elongated serpent-like creature. It has a camel-like head. That description comes up over and over.”
A former clerk of the B.C. legislature, Henry William Langley and provincial archivist Fred Kemp, issued a joint statement in 1922 saying they’d seen a sea creature off Chatham Island near Victoria.
“These are not nut-case people. These are very serious people,” Kirk told reporter Neil Horner.
In 1951, Langley died tragically when he was crushed to death under the wheels of a Nanaimo-bound train as it was pulling out of the Victoria station.
But the wonder of Caddy lives on.
Cadborosaurus’ range is not confined to the Victoria area, as sightings of a similar animal have come from the Gulf of Alaska to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, says Kirk. In Oregon, the animal goes by the name Colossal Claude.
In British Columbia, these cryptozoological encounters are beginning to show up in tourism brochures.
“Like Moberly Lake up in the (northeast) area, the First Nations there got in touch with me and told me about the creature that they had been seeing with a horse’s head swimming around in the lake, and now they’ve given it a name,” John Kirk said.
“They call it Moberly Dick.”
Sources: BCSCC, Dirk Meissner/The Canadian Press, and Neil Horner/Parksville Qualicum Beach News.