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I Saw "Champ" PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

waveThis happened a few weeks ago, and I've been pretty quiet about it... but I had an actual sighting of the legendary sea monster "Champ." I was on a 19' sailboat heading out for a sunset cruise when I saw a something  similar to the what's in the photograph to the right.

He, she, or it was about 20 feet from me in Mallet's Bay, Vermont. I saw it, and it was real. 

For those of you unfamiliar with "Champ," the term refers to the "monster" or "living fossil" that lives in the waters of Lake Champlain in New York and Vermont. The creature has been "sighted" hundreds of times, and was reportedly known to indigenous peoples long before Samuel de Champlain recorded his own monster sighting, though he was probably describing a sturgeon.

It seems to me that every large body of water has "sightings," but for the first time, I'd had my own, and I can no longer deny that there's something in the lake. 

I thought of taking a picture, but all I had with me was my iPhone and I was sure the image wouldn't come out. The photograph above is similar to what I saw.

A curious thing: I didn't know I was seeing Champ. I've been researching cryptozoology most of my life, and as such, I've read many different explanations for what these monster sightings could be. Sandra Mansi's famous photograph was likely a log in the water. The Montauk Monster was a partially decomposed raccoon. The Maine chupacabra was a mangy chow chow. My context is that of science, and I don't automatically leap to "monster" when I see things I can't explain.

As in the photograph, which was taken by Brigid Hovarth at a completely different lake, I was observing a dark shape rising above the water. It moved only slightly, like a swimming snake, but it could also have been fins or humps rising above the surface. I watched it for a good 15 seconds, all the while thinking to myself: "Huh, that's what a standing wave looks like. No wonder people think it's a monster."

Mallet's Bay is just south of Burlington, VT, and it's an extremely busy boating area. Boats come and go, leaving wakes that disturb the surface for minutes after the boat has left. These wakes collide with each other producing interesting harmonics and reverberations. When conditions are right, a standing wave is produced where a wave simply stands above the surface and stays there for dozens of seconds, feeding on the energy of colliding wakes.

I saw a standing wave.

Because my context was set on "science" rather than "monster," I didn't consider "sea monster" as a possible explanation for what I was observing. It was only on the ride home hours later that I realized I had seen exactly what many others had seen, only I chose to call it "wave" while they chose to call it "sea monster." Why shouldn't I be allowed to crow about my discovery as well?

Context controls perception. As I've said many times, believing is seeing. Our brains create patterns and try to fit data into those patterns. My patterns are science-based, but had I been younger and fresh from reading a book on sea monsters, I might have been convinced that I was seeing Champ.

I live on a much larger lake now: Lake Michigan. And yes, there are reports of monsters and even ghosts in this lake as well. Should I see any, I'll be sure to let you know.

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That post was entirely to reasonable
written by Xiphos, September 24, 2010
and full of facts and viable theories of what actually happened. That is unacceptable. everybody KNOWS, Champ is a hide out dinosaur that somehow manages to NOT get found even though there has been dozens of expeditions to locate that diabolically clever dino.
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written by LovleAnjel, September 24, 2010
Standing waves are way cooler to see than lake monsters, even though they are much more common.
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written by Skeptic Doug, September 24, 2010
Yes, But what was there BEFORE that. Possibly Champ "created" the standing wave.
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"Champ" and my 2 "UFO's"
written by Skip_H, September 24, 2010
Great little "Champ" story. Reminds me of the "UFO" I saw, the whole flashing lights and then shooting off at shocking speed. I felt 'science' in my bones the entire time. But I was weak on what had caused the fine effect. Took a good six years until I was in the right spot, the right light to see the whole brilliant red and white light and then it zipping amazingly fast over a hill a few miles away. That time, I clearly had seen the man made item in the sky, and pieced out the effects.

I had better luck with big foot. So silent, so fast, hair on my neck stood up. Pieced that together the next day. Much better than the 6 years for my UFO to get sorted out.
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Another Space Filled, Lowly rated comment [Show]
@CallerX
written by JeffWagg, September 24, 2010
Yes, you're right. Other people have posited this explanation, which is why the explanation occurred to me BEFORE the idea of a monster did. That's rather the point of the article – sorry you missed it.

As for Champlain, he described not one but TWO "monsters" in the lake One was a giant that lived on an island, and the other he described as "a serpentine creature about 20 feet long, as thick as a barrel, and with a horse-like head." The second quote is the one that people think was Champ, but a more plausible explanation is that he was describing a sturgeon, as I said in my article.

BTW... just a bit of friendly advice: you might find life more enjoyable if you spent less time trolling and more time contributing. If you're willing to submit your body of work for analysis and criticism, we're ready to dig in.
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written by Zoroaster, September 24, 2010
Must be a clever monster to camouflage itself as a standing wave. That's probably how it eludes all the scientific expeditions to find it.
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written by lytrigian, September 24, 2010
You should have taken the iPhone picture. It would have some out vague, grainy, blurry -- all in the best traditions of cryptozoological photography!
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Checking the Literature
written by doctoratlantis, September 25, 2010
Pertinent to a conversation Jeff and I were having earlier tonight on "Virtually Drinking Skeptically," the value of referring back to our own Skeptic literature can't be overstated. According to Joe Nickell, the story about Champlain's sighting is a hoax. (http://www.csicop.org/si/show/...in_monster) The "20-foot serpent thick as a barrel, and a head like a horse" stuff was a hoax first printed in Vermont Life in 1970.

Champlain's REAL quote is much less prosaic and describes a fish:
"...[T]here is also a great abundance of many species of fish. Amongst others there is one called by the natives Chaousarou, which is of various lengths; but the largest of them, as these tribes have told me, are from eight to ten feet long. I have seen some five feet long, which were as big as my thigh, and had a head as large as my two fists, with a snout two feet and a half long, and a double row of very sharp, dangerous teeth. Its body has a good deal the shape of the pike; but it is protected by scales of a silvery gray colour and so strong that a dagger could not pierce them."


Sorry, @Caller_X - no speedboats in the time of Sam de Champlain, but apparently no monsters either. smilies/tongue.gif

But don't be sad folks - an 8 foot long armored fish is pretty amazing! Gars and Sturgeons are wicked cool.
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written by Caller X, September 25, 2010
Sorry, doctoratlantis, Jeff contradicted you in his article. Take it up with him as to why he chose not to edit the article.

Sturgeon don't have scales. Bazinga.

The creature has been "sighted" hundreds of times, and was reportedly known to indigenous peoples long before Samuel de Champlain recorded his own monster sighting


The real problem here is the space-filling articles. If I write a letter to the editor will the newspaper give me a column?
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written by Bruno, September 25, 2010
Now here's a post about supernatural things that actually uses terms like "waves" and "harmonics" in their proper context and meaning. That's what I call a first!
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@Johnny Spacefiller
written by Caller X, September 26, 2010

As for Champlain, he described not one but TWO "monsters" in the lake One was a giant that lived on an island, and the other he described as "a serpentine creature about 20 feet long, as thick as a barrel, and with a horse-like head." The second quote is the one that people think was Champ, but a more plausible explanation is that he was describing a sturgeon, as I said in my article.

BTW... just a bit of friendly advice: you might find life more enjoyable if you spent less time trolling and more time contributing. If you're willing to submit your body of work for analysis and criticism, we're ready to dig in.


So the giant living on an island, was a "standing on land wave"? And a 20 foot long sturgeon? Possible, I suppose, but "serpentine" kind of rules out fins, don't you think?


I contribute by pointing out that your articles are simply space-fillers and CV pumper-uppers. My CV is just fine, thank you. Thanks for the advice, but I already find life incredibly enjoyable. Every time I take a breath in, I enjoy it. Your friendly advice sounds a bit condescending and passive-aggressive, but that could be my own bias against space-fillers.
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@Caller_X
written by doctoratlantis, September 26, 2010
I haven't seen enough evidence to accept the existence of lake monsters.
Internet trolls are totally real though.
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@doctoratlantis
written by JeffWagg, September 27, 2010
Thanks for the link on that... I hadn't seen it before. We should never underestimate the willingness of people to just lie.

BTW, sturgeons do have scales, specialized ones called "scutes."
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Hoaxes indeed.
written by doctoratlantis, September 27, 2010
Jeff Wagg says:
BTW, sturgeons do have scales, specialized ones called "scutes."

Bazinga!
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@JeffWagg
written by Caller X, September 27, 2010
BTW, sturgeons do have scales, specialized ones called "scutes."


Yes, and I have scales, specialized ones called "fingernails."

They're called "scutes" to DISTINGUISH them from scales. I can't be responsible for anyone's misuse of a term.

I'll take my bazinga on the patio.
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@JeffWagg
written by Caller X, September 28, 2010
To be clear, since you won't look it up yourself, scutes and scales grow out of different tissues. Bazinga. Looks like I'm getting inside your head a bit. My nails grow long.. all the women are jealous of my nails.

Sturgeon don't have scales. Ask your Jewish friends. "Why aren't sturgeon kosher?"

"What are you, a schlemiel or a schlemozzel? They're not kosher because they don't have scales, meshuggenah!"
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@callerX
written by JeffWagg, September 28, 2010
If you're as good a researcher as you claim, you now know that sturgeon have scales. (Ganoid, if you must be pedantic.) Kosher law does not recognize these scales are being suitable for a food source, so the fish is not kosher, but there's no question that it has scales.

However, why be so pedantic? Champlain describes a fish in his journal that has a strong resemblance to sturgeon, and he uses the word "scales" because scutes look like scales, and for all intents and purposes are scales. This is not to mention that it was translated from French.

You don't seem to have a point to make, other than "everything on Swift is space-filler." What exactly are you looking for in this space, and if you never find it, why keep coming back?
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@Jeffwagg
written by Caller X, September 28, 2010
Jeez, Jeff, your poor reading skills are making my argument for me. Just the other day I complimented someone on an article that was NOT a space-filler. What I have been saying for months is that YOUR articles are space-fillers. Try to follow along.

Say what you will, but a scute is NOT a scale anymore than a fingernail is a strand of hair.

"Kosher law does not recognize these scales are being suitable for a food source"

Kosher law quite properly recognizes that sturgeon do not have scales. Bazinga. By the way, check your noun-verb agreement in the quotation above.
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Gar Pike, not sturgeon
written by markbellis, September 30, 2010
Chaousarou are thought to be gar pike - Joe Nickell mentioned sturgeon in his article only because they belonged to the same sub-order - if they were monsters, they were not very frightening as other early explorers mention them as being on the menu when they visited natives around Lake Champlain. Gar Pike do have scales and are very much as Champlain described.
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@markbellis and jeffwag
written by Caller X, September 30, 2010
Gar Pike, not sturgeon
written by markbellis, September 30, 2010
Chaousarou are thought to be gar pike - Joe Nickell mentioned sturgeon in his article only because they belonged to the same sub-order - if they were monsters, they were not very frightening as other early explorers mention them as being on the menu when they visited natives around Lake Champlain. Gar Pike do have scales and are very much as Champlain described.


Jeff, you could take a page out of this fellow's book. Gar do in fact have ganoid scales, whereas sturgeon continue to not have them. That's another wrong thing you took up space with. Contrary to your assertion, I never claimed to be much of a researcher, but shouldn't facts be important to a skeptic?
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Champ
written by Miriamisme, October 01, 2010
About 15 years ago they released a report on Chap, it only aired once. Then it was like it never happened. It showed aerial vid of about 5 of them swimming together. The lake had already been under research for more then ten years. I had been interested in Champ for year already so when I heard it was going to be aired I was watching it. It aired the one time and only that one time. 3 groups had been tagged. There was suppose to be a second part about the migration of the Champs and it never aired. I do assume that a lot of boats would interfere with the creature, exp if the lake is their breeding grounds. So like the Phineas and Ferb show, it better for the creatures own protection, people do not know it really there.
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@Miriamisme
written by JeffWagg, October 04, 2010
Thanks for pointing out that Gar Pike better match Champlain's description. They grow to lengths of 10 feet, which seems to match as well. I can't say that I share you belief that Champ is a real animal though. I haven't seen any evidence to support that belief.

And @CallerX, the simplest google search will show that sturgeon have ganoid scales. You criticize everyone else's research so much that I figured you must be good at it. My mistake.
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@Jeff
written by Caller X, October 04, 2010
The "simplest google search" which I repeated upon your recommendation, turned up this:

"Scutes are similar to scales and serve the same function. Unlike the scales of fish and snakes, which are formed from the epidermis, scutes are formed in the lower vascular layer of the skin and the epidermal element is only the top surface." You said above that scutes are scales. Minus one for you.

"One of the oldest families of bony fish in existence, sturgeon are native to subtropical, temperate and sub-Arctic rivers, lakes and coastlines of Eurasia and North America. They are distinctive for their elongated bodies, lack of scales, and occasional great size: Sturgeons ranging from 7–12 feet (2-3½ m) in length are common, and some species grow up to 18 feet (5.5 m)." Minus two for you.

"Ganoid scales can be found on gars (family Lepisosteidae) and bichirs and reedfishes (family Polypteridae). Ganoid scales are similar to cosmoid scales, but a layer of ganoin lies over the cosmine layer and under the enamel[clarification needed]. They are diamond-shaped, shiny, and hard."

Hmmm. No mention whatsoever of the sturgeon's family, Acipenseridae. Minus three for you.

Thank you for playing our game. We have some wonderful parting gifts for you.
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@callerx
written by JeffWagg, October 08, 2010
You didn't cite your sources, but I'll cite mine:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturgeon
"they have ganoid scales"

http://www.kashrut.com/articles/fishfaq/
"Sturgeon definitely has scales8, but it is not kosher. Its scales are classified as “ganoid”, which means that they are covered with ganoin (similar in texture to fingernails) and cannot be removed without tearing the skin."

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-shovelnose-sturgeon.htm
"Sturgeons have hard, plate-like scales called ganoid scales."

http://ajpregu.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/293/2/R884
"Sturgeon snout, vertebrae, and ganoid scales were fixed for histology"

http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7025.html
"The bony scutes covering their bodies are remnants of primitive ganoid scales, scales that have an outer enamel layer made up of a distinct substance called ganoine."

http://www.pond-life.me.uk/fishhealth/anatomy.php
"Sturgeons and gars have ganoid scales."

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ganoid
"gan·oid (gnoid)
adj.
Of, relating to, or characteristic of certain bony fishes, such as the sturgeon and the gar, that have armorlike scales consisting of bony plates covered with layers of dentine and enamel."
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Talk about space-filling...
written by wallacej14, October 21, 2010
Though I risk being attacked from all sides and being described as a "troll," I submit that this thread is among the most useless I've ever seen on this site.
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