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Monday, November 07, 2011

RICHARD FREEMAN: The Lake Tahoe monster

At 1,645ft-deep Lake Tahoe ranks as the world's 10th deepest lake. By volume it is the 26th largest lake in the world. It is 22 miles long and 12 miles wide, and was formed about 2 million years ago. Eight creeks run into the lake. Its primary outflow is the Truckee River, which runs into Pyramid Lake (also known for monster sightings) and into the Great Basin.

Legends of this creature first began to surface in the mid-1800s when members of the Washoe and Paiute Indian tribes began to tell the white settlers about the "monster" dwelling in the depths of the Tahoe basin.

It has been described by eyewitnesses as being over 15-80ft long with an undulating, serpentine body, thick as a barrel and with smooth, dark skin. In modern times it has been given the nickname Tahoe Tessie.

In the 1950s two off-duty police officers out on the lake reported seeing a large, black hump rise from the water and keep speed with the boat, going over 60 mph.

Rick Osborne of Sacramento, California, and three of his friends saw one of the creatures in 1979:
“Myself, along with 3 others watched a large serpent-like creature feeding/hunting in a school of large trout. It was in the middle of winter of 1979 off the dock at Homewood. It was about as big around as a telephone pole and maybe 30'-60' in length from what we could see of it. It didn't swim like a snake (side to side). It was diving up and splashing down with it's [sic] head/neck? into the school of fish, which were leaping out of the water ahead of it. We were speechless for several minutes afterwards.”

Dan Pursley of Napa, California saw the creature in 1982. He writes...
'In the summer of 1982, my Wife and I had stopped are 22-foot boat to sun ourselves in Lake Tahoe, CA. We were about 400 yards from the shore near Emerald Bay, My wife climbed out to the bow of the boat and held on by holding the windshield behind her. I laid out across the seats. The water was very still and smooth as glass. About five minutes or so later, the boat began rocking as if it was being hit by a boat's wake speeding by. I sat up but saw nothing around that could have caused this disturbance. As I looked at the water around our boat, there were large air bubbles surfacing. I felt this was rather odd as I am an experienced scuba diver and they didn't appear to be bubbles coming from a diver's scuba equipment. Then in the water five feet away from the back end of the boat, I spotted the largest fish tail I ever saw. It was slowly submerging in the water. The whole scene was like a slow motion movie. I jumped up and told my wife to get back in the boat, as we had to leave. She asked, "What happened to you? You look whiter than a ghost." I didn't tell my wife what I saw until we got back to shore, nor did I tell anyone else except a few close family members. In the years that passed, I began looking through every book I could find that had pictures of fish tails. I found nothing that resembled what I saw. Then I began looking through dinosaur books with no luck. Finally, I heard about a catfish society in Nevada that published articles about experiences other people had with unusual fish. I learned that long ago when Indians lived in the area, they would talk about a great fish. Many people believed it was a large Sturgeon. What I saw, however, was no sturgeon. In fact in my opinion, what I saw was nothing like anything that ever existed before. It was longer across then the entire back of my boat. It was 10 to 13 feet across with smooth dark green skin and as the tail submerged in the water, it flipped towards the boat opposite to the way a whale's tail flips. To this day, I cannot understand how something so large could swim so close without hitting my boat and outboard motor. I remained quiet about this incident until now for two reasons: one, it was not worth hearing the scepticism, ridicule and disbelief of others.'

In the 1980s two fishermen reported seeing a 15ft-long (4.6m) serpent pass underneath the surface of the water, near Cave Rock.

Several weeks after, two divers reported finding an underwater cave; a creature shot out, leaving the silt stirred. Where the creature had been there were two large fin-prints.

In 1982 Chris Bebe and Jerry Jones, two sober Reno police officers, were out for a day of water-skiing on the deepest part of the lake when something resembling “the top of a Volkswagen Beetle” paced their boat from roughly 6ft away. It was so massive water was sucked down around it. “I knew that whatever it was, it was alive, and I knew it was bigger than my boat,” officer Chris Beebe said, estimating its length at 18 to 30ft. “My immediate reaction was that I would stop moving so that I didn’t lose any of my feet." Beebe never returned to the lake, and eventually left his job and moved away from Tahoe because of the publicity.

In 1982 Gene St. Denis and a friend were looking out across Lake Tahoe near Cave Rock when they reportedly saw a “blotchy gray creature about 10 to 15 feet in length.” On another occasion St. Denis reported that while swimming over a large hole in the lake bottom, he felt what he described as a large explosion underneath them, followed by what appeared to be a 16ft-long creature swimming away. “We waited for the silt to settle,” said St. Denis, “and found large fin prints where the creature had been.”

In 1984 on 17th June Patsy McKay and Diane Stavarakas saw a 17ft humped animal surface several times.

In 1985 Mike Conway and Virgil Anderson filmed an animal creating a 20-25ft wake at Zeyphr Cove. However, the film, to my knowledge, has never been shown.

In 1991 witness Andrew Navarro saw the creature whilst in a boat off King’s Reach.

He told researcher John Kirk the following…

“I was with a friend and we were on a party boat. There were other people but they were on the other side of the boat so they didn’t see anything. But my friend and I did. The first thing that I saw was water shooting out of the lake, like when a whale blows water out of its blow hole. Then I saw the surface of the water being disturbed by something underneath. This was followed by the hump of a brown creature which came out of the water. It moved round in a circle for a while then it was gone. The movement of the creature was more up and down not side to side like a snake. The sighting lasted for about 3 minutes or so. My first though was that it was a whale, since the creature had to be huge from the size of the hump, but I know that there are no whales in Lake Tahoe. Most of the other people on the boat said it was probably just a fish, but if it was a fish it was as big as a whale. I really don’t remember any more details since I was mostly scared to death, the creature was so close I thought it would eat me.”

In 1992 a witness called Barry from California saw the creature:

“I saw and watched "Tessie" for 30 minutes from the highway on the East side of the lake. I originally saw it swimming while I was driving, not sure what I was seeing, I pulled over to get a better look. It was all black in colour, very much serpentine shaped, like a giant snake. I estimated the length to be 50-60 feet. It just floated in the shallow water maybe 50 to 110 yards off shore like it was sunning itself. Then it made like a snake and swam off to deep water and disappeared. This happened in 1992, and I had a friend with me who saw it also. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would not believe it.”

‘Samantha’ of Incline Village, Nevada saw the creature in 2003:

“About five years ago, my family and I were out boating for the fourth of July. That night as we were watching the fireworks, I heard something swimming next to the boat, and I felt the boat shake from the waves. I looked over and saw a long, serpent like creature swimming by the boat. After I stared at it for a few minutes, it disappeared under water. My mom and step brother saw it as well, and had I not seen it myself, I wouldn’t have believed it. I didn’t know of Tahoe Tessie at the time, but now I know that's what it was”

In 2004 an off-duty bartender on the boat Tahoe Queen took a picture of a black hump in the water, which he claims is the top of the creature's head.

In April 2005 Beth Douglas and Ron Talmage, tourists from Sacramento, reported seeing a creature “with three to five humps along its back” in Tahoe.

In October 2007 multiple witnesses saw the creature swimming off City’s Commons Beach. One observer video-taped a dark humped object at the surface.

‘Jack’ of Kings Beach, California, saw the creature in 2008:

“I've lived in Tahoe for over ten years and this last month was the first time I saw anything. I was above Incline Village on a stormy day. There was nothing and no one on the lake, except a periscope-looking object on the lake. Then it dipped underwater and disappeared. I sat there looking at the lake for an hour afterward, with not so much as a ripple on the lake. I thought it was myth and played along; now I'm a believer.”

On April 19th 2009 the aunt of ‘Ingrid’ of Studio City, California, saw the animal:
“My aunt and I witnessed Tessie this morning about 300m offshore at Edgewood Golf Club in S Lake Tahoe. The morning was perfectly still and clear; the lake was glass. There were no waves, barely even lapping on the shore, and the only boat out there was some 5 miles or more away. Suddenly a wake churned up, which caught my attention, and I looked out and saw her - four dark blue humps still against the water. No head or tail though. I want to believe it was Tessie but, like all other sightings probably are, it was the generation of standing surface waves from the collision of air and water currents. They appear still in relation to the surface of the water, and in this case the set was drifting very slowly south to north before it stopped (or sank beneath the surface).”

Holly, of Tahoe City, writes...

'I was born in Truckee and moved to Tahoe City a year ago. During the summer 09 my boyfriend, son and I decided to go to the beach at Kings Beach. On the way there before passing Tahoe Vista I looked down towards the water and saw large humps in the water moving in a circular motion, the water was still with no waves. The humps were dark in colour like a brownish dark green, I didn't see a head or a tail, but I'm sure it wasn't a fish because there were no scales and I have never seen a fish of that size or shape in Tahoe. I would compare the size of the humps to those like a big anaconda. I have lived here forever and been to Lake Tahoe many times and have never seen anything like it. I truly know that there is something in Lake Tahoe that has not yet been identified.'

Dr Charles Goldman, limnologist and director of the Tahoe Research Group at UC Davis, organised conferences in Nevada in 1984 and 2004 to discuss “Unidentified Swimming Objects,” where a number of scientists testified they had seen Tessie. The only person to have been to the bottom of Lake Tahoe, Goldman says his ’79 expedition was “inconclusive” in terms of the monster. His possible explanations include frolicking river otters, mirages, colliding boat wakes and the white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus). The latter is found in the Sacramento and Feather rivers some 75 miles from the lake. It can reach 20ft and weight 1798 lbs. This may explain the whale-like sightings but the serpentine creatures are harder to account for. The serpentine sightings may be a gigantic mutant strain of eel. However, I do not know if eels occur in the Great Basin.

There is a rumour that Jacques Cousteau dived to the bottom of the lake and filmed the creature but did not release the film saying that “The world was not yet ready for what’s down there”. The whole thing seems to be no more than a tall story.
In 1998 the U.S. Geological Survey mapped the entire lake bottom of Lake Tahoe with multibeam sonar. They found nothing unusual. However, it is possible that the creatures, if they exist, are not full time residents but move around the waters of the Great Basin. However, it should be noted that none of these connect with the open sea.

2 comments:

Dale Drinnon said...

The majority of sightings at Tahoe are in the "Big Fish" category-and we have a couple of those witnesses that do insist they were seening large sturgeon specifically.

Unfortunatel;y the "Long snakelike" sightings do not go to demonstrate anything different because they are almost invariably due to wave action. and some "Logs" could even be logs.

Best Wishes, Dale D.

captdonnie said...

My Name is Donnie there are two large creatures in he lake the one I saw was 16' to 18' prehistoric type fish with silver round scales watched fish in about 20' of water of edgwood on so shore for about a half an hour looking for food girth was approx,4+'LARGE TEETH hooked jaw moving slow enough to row along side it without bothering it it was a glass day,the boat was 12'long fish was longer than boat,I do also understand water magnifies,eventually i would of been able to touch it with one of my oars but I did not want to piss it off,it swam off,there were two of us on that boat that saw the whole thing,this happened in 1977 july