20 Theories About What The Lake Champlain Monster Photographed in 1977 Really Is

1. Why Not Take More Than One Photo?

I know it was 1977, but if you legitimately thought you had seen a large, unknown, sea monster, wouldn’t you take more than one photo?.. She said it stayed surfaced for five minutes. Surely you would be able to get a few? It’s also interesting that they say it didn’t react to any noises.

It doesn’t quite look like driftwood to me (although possible), but could it have been some kind of man made creation? It also seems odd that they couldn’t pinpoint the location, tell the same story about the negatives, and didn’t immediately send it to the media or to some kind of expert. Smells fishy to me.


2. Snapped One Pic

I just watched the Unsolved Mystery episode that features this and in that she said that her husband was frightened by the creature and was ushering her and the kids back to safety and she managed to turn around and snap one picture before it disappeared.


3. Maybe Man-Made

Yes, why didn’t she take other pictures and why didn’t anyone else see this thing if it was around for 5 minutes? Is Lake Champlain so deserted in July? it was 4th of July weekend I guess. To me this object on the photo also looks like something man-made and definitely much smaller than 4m long. Maybe some plastic trash?


4. A Swimming Person

It looks like someone swimming to me. The “blob” in front is someone’s head, the neck is their arm, head is their cupped hand, the body is well their body. Lol


5. Just Some Debris

I’d be interested in hearing about how the ‘creature’ moved when it was visible. Lots of complicated motions like an animal scanning for something? Or did it just surface and float for a few minutes before going back down.

My amateur take on the object is that the neck and head are part of a smoother curve and the dark ‘head’ on the right is actually just the shaded underside of whatever is arching over.

I am not bothered by how far off her size judgements are. It can be really difficult to accurately judge the size of something that is an estimated 150 away with nothing nearby to give a sense of scale.

My amateur take on the whole situation is that this was just some debris that popped up somewhere and they thought “Ha! that looks kinda like a sea monster” and the picture was nothing but a private joke until the public got word of it and tried to make it into something bigger than it really was.


6. Other Lake Monsters

So there are a number of lakes in Canada with “lake monsters”, Champy and Opopongo (sp?) are two that are very popular. The 70s was a fun time for cryptozoology. As a kid it seems there were weird monsters everywhere (bigfoot! ETs! Bermuda Triangle! Time-Life books had a whole series on the unexplained!)

Anyways, all that aside – There is a fabulous provincial park here in Ontario called “Bon Echo” which is located in the Canadian Shield. You have granite rock formations, large and deep lakes formed by glaciers (same as the upstate NY lakes and Champlain I’m sure), there is a huge rock jutting out of the lake at Bon Echo and goes quite deep. And of course they have stories of a lake monster that people have sworn they’ve seen. While we like to believe in something supernatural or lost dinosaur, the most likely explanation are sturgeon, which live in lakes and grow to large sizes. They live deep and rarely surface, but they could breech the surface and it would be quite shocking to see. In russia they have found some to be 18ft long. And there are large sturgeon in lake Ontario, so why not in our deep lakes? Even a 10ft fish would be unusual for a lake sighting.


7. Large Sturgeon

I saw a sturgeon in a small lake in North Carolina once – I didn’t know there were any in the area and the first couple times I noticed it I just saw the back rolling out of the water.

I legitimately thought I was seeing a lake monster for a minute, I had no idea sturgeon could be in that part of the country and had no idea what I was seeing, it was far bigger than any fish I’d ever seen in a lake like that, probably 5 or 6 feet long.

But after watching a little while longer I realized what it was, it was pretty shocking though in the moment. If someone wasn’t familiar with just how big sturgeon can get and/or didn’t realize the lake had any I can see how they’d think it was a monster.


8. Nothing There

I’m 99.99% sure they did a special on this lake and scanned it with sonar and every single new age technology and there was nothing in the lake.


9. Why Jump to Conclusions?

I don’t understand the point. It doesn’t really look like anything identifiable. Why immediately jump to sea monster? It is the same logic as: lights in the sky must be ET. Literally hundreds of other explanations are more plausible.

Jumping fish and shadow? Floating log with a branch sticking up? Otters playing? Ducks? Swimming person wearing a stocking over their arm? Naaah! must be a giant prehistoric reptile with invisibility powers.


10. Dark and Eerie

I’ve spent time on Lake Champlain for nearly 30 years. I’ll tell you, there’s not another body of water I’ve been out on in the dark, that puts instant fear in me quite like LC.

I can’t explain it, it’s dark and wide and when it’s silent, it’s eerie. The surrounding shores and rocks and wilderness are equally as scary. I’ve seen things on shore from my boat in some areas that I can’t explain.

There are monster sturgeon in 75-100’ deep dark waters, there’s various water snakes, ‘alligator-gars’, I’ve seen rundown cabins deep towards shore but high upon cliffs with no access points, but an old still readable sign that says “Danger two deaths at this camp.”

I don’t know. But, personally, LC is scary as all hell. When I’m in my small boat at 3am in the middle of that lake or deep in a marshy cove, I feel like I’m going to die.

I believe that is a photo of a rare sea beast of some sort, and don’t hold me to this, but scenery wise, it looks an area I haven’t been to in decades, As a young kid in the 80’s I went four of five years in a row and my dad & uncles called it Putnam or Putman station.


11. It’s the Sturgeon

I think that most lake monsters are probably a sturgeon (unless proven otherwise). They’re pretty monstrous looking and can get huge. Most people will never see one in the wild and it can be an easy mistake to make if you have a good imagination!


12. Dead Tree

It’s a dead tree. But of course, the towns people will create the myth of a lake monster because that would bring in tourism and attention. You wouldn’t have heard of Loch Ness if not for those silly stories.


13. Massive Fish

I firmly believe there used to be a gigantic sturgeon in the lake that began the Champ lore. Whether or not this photo in particular is authentic, I’m still skeptical. But I do know that there have been massive fish found in Lake Champlain, ancestors of prehistoric species, and sturgeon are still living in the deep pockets of the lake to this day.


14. Accidental Hoax

I feel like this was an accidental hoax. She saw something that looked funny, took a picture, it looked even wackier in the photo, she pinned it up to serve as a talking point for the kids, and it snowballed from there.


15. Swimming Freestyle

To me it looks like someone swimming freestyle. “Neck “ =arm, “head” =hand, and they’re just lifting that arm through the air to return it to the front.


16. It’s Possible

I grew up on Lake Champlain and always wanted to meet Champ. I believe!

The lake is very similar in many ways to Loch Ness, so it’s entirely plausible.


17. It’s a Log

It’s probably just a log tbh.

I honestly don’t believe any lake monsters exist; they’re either misidentified as other animals or something like a log or someone who staged something to make it seem there was something in the lake.

If there were lake monsters, we would be seeing them more often especially their carcasses (just like how a whale that dies might wash up on the beach).


18. So Exaggerated

It really does look like someone on their side doing the breast stroke, with their right arm up in the air mid stroke. Maybe with some bad contrast. You can even see a bright reflective spot about where a person’s elbow would be. Once you see it you really can’t unsee it.

IIRC film in this period cost about 0.60 cents. That’s only a few bucks in today’s dollars. Back at the time film had to be developed manually with chemicals, in a dark room, often by techs who didn’t have much training, at the neighborhood store or photo mat. Mistakes happened all the time. If you really wanted to preserve something you’d take multiple photos of a subject. It’s unbelievable to me that this person watched something for five minutes and took one photo. It’s unbelievable to me that they never produced a negative and had different stories at different times about what happened to the negative.

If you go back hundreds of years to the first written sighting of Champy, the guy was talking about a scaly thing that was about the width and shape of a man’s leg and maybe four feet long. It’s funny to understand what people way back then considered monstrous. Somehow over the years this has evolved into a story of a gigantic dinosaur in the lake. I do think the original sighting was real and unusual, but potentially explainable as a very large snake or sturgeon or something of that nature.

By the late 70s this stuff was generating fame and income thanks to a lot of interest in the paranormal becoming more mainstream and multiple TV shows capitalizing off of it. I believe I first heard about Champy in Leonard Nimoy’s In Search Of… show, which was widely known of in an era where there were like three to seven TV channels. There were also many books in the library at the time featuring stories of creatures like this. Then of course Unsolved Mysteries featured a story on Champy in the 80s and I think the whole country saw it. Felt like it anyway.

It’s fun to think about but so much of this stuff is so exaggerated.


19. A Lifeguard’s Thoughts

Having spent hundred of hours watching people swim laps as a lifeguard I can confirm that this 100% looks like a person swimming front crawl/freestyle. I can see their ear on the side of their head, their arm raised out of the water and the shadow of their legs under the water.


20. Beyond a Neighborhood Tall Tale

Late to the post, but I’m betting the family took a photo of a tree or other object in the water which they thought looked like a monster, and pegged it to the wall in their kitchen for nothing more than a silly picture.

They had no initial intention of a hoax, but kids being kids, they showed it to their friends and the story grew out of control, likely with the parents playing along for fun – I would! But once it went beyond a neighborhood tall tale, it was hard for them to reel the story back in and… that’s it.