Stories of sea monsters and lake/loch monsters have been around since the beginning of time, as we know it. But is there truth in the depths of these stories?
Let me share with you, some very real experiences of one very well-known, Champ, the sea creature of Lake Champlain in Vermont and New York, USA.
First, a bit about Lake Champlain.
This beautiful lake stretches to about 107 miles in length, has roughly 80 islands scattered throughout, and sinks to an ominous 400 feet (122 meters) in depth.
In 1609, a French explorer named Samuel De Champlain came across this lake, populated with Algonquin, Huron, and Montagnais (Native Americans). He quickly befriended the local Natives and was invited to camp with them, during a stretch of his stay while he studied the surrounding areas.
Read his story and New England discoveries here: The Voyages and Explorations of Samuel De Champlain 1604-161
Before his departure, the local Native Americans gifted Samuel De Champlain with the head of a 10-foot long Chaousarou, "armed with scales so strong that a dagger could not pierce them", and enchanted with magical powers of protection over his continuing journey.
Could this have been the first documented proof of the Vermont Lake Monster, known today as Champ?
*** The first recorded sighting of Scotland's "Nessie" was in 565 AD by Saint Columba, a Christian missionary from Ireland.
The lake went on to be named Lake Champlain, after Samuel De Champlain, and tales of Chaousarou...or Champ, has continued over the centuries.
As a Vermont local, myself, I grew up with the tales and stories of Champ. I remember hearing of someone seeing a nest on the land, of "baby Champ's" as they stood by and watched the newborns waddle across the road and slip into the lake.
I remember aunts and uncles and friends of my parents and grandparents, talk of Champ sightings while they were out on a quiet morning lake, fishing.
I've been to a lake-side wedding, where the entire wedding party claimed to have seen Champ.
Some very close family friends, who did not live in Vermont or New York, were driving through for a visit. During their road trip, they travelled along the scenic lakeside route, taking in the views, as they noticed a large creature with its head and neck high above the water line and swimming around the same speed as the car. They said this creature "followed them" for quite some time, though they were completely confused as to what it might be.
But what I'm here to share with you today, are my own Champ Sightings in this Lake in my Vermont home.
Champ Sighting #1 - In Plane View
I was 15 years old, heading off to Guatemala with the Youth Group for some missionary help with the Guatemalan children. Burlington Airport is right near Lake Champlain, and as our plane took off (still low in the sky) we flew over the familiar body of water.
As we flew, we followed the direction of a large sailboat beneath us and I watched from my window seat...however, something caught my eye...and the eyes of many others on the plane.
A large shape (larger than the sailboat) was moving in a horizontal direction and seemed to swim right under the sailboat, then away off to the left. It took me a moment to register what I thought I was seeing and just as I yelled "Champ!!!", so did several other kids, all witnessing the same thing.
Champ Sighting #2 - Up Close & Personal
I have to set the tone for this experience, because it was so mind-blowing, that I want to make sure you capture every image I can portray.
It was a crisp Oct or Nov evening in 2009 (if I remember correctly). A very good friend, Shannon Graham, and I decided to escape the "real world" and take in the quiet nighttime views of Lake Champlain. Either the moon was full or sidewalk lamps were lit, but either way, it set the mood for a bit of romance.
It was late, between 11pm - 12am, and as we started off on our boardwalk walk we heard a strange sound. A large splash, as if a full-grown man had just jumped into the lake.
Now, being in Vermont...this isn't common but isn't unheard of. We call it "Penguin Jumping", when you dive into the freezing waters. So the first time we heard it, we kind of ignored it, and continued walking. But then we heard it again. This time a bit of sense came to us...it is nearly midnight...not the usual time for Penguin Jumping. So we got curious and continued to walk in the direction of the very loud splashing noise.
We turned a small bend in the boardwalk, peered into the water, and scanned the shore, but there was no one else anywhere to be seen. We stood still, looking all around us, in the water and on the land, but everything was silent and there was nowhere for anyone to have run to hide, so quickly.
After several moments of confusion and a bit of being creeped out, we started to walk again, but as we did something huge came out of the water, a mere stone's throw away from us.....
The head and neck of a massive creature. At first, it looked like the biggest snake I had ever seen, its skin slimy and dark-colored, against the dark water and sky. As my brain fought against a lifetime of "Dinosaurs are extinct", it looked more and more like a Plesiosaurus.
We stood, in disbelief, as this giant head, about double the size of a basketball, paid no attention to us and appeared to be very slowly swimming along the boardwalk. As our blown minds began to settle we began to notice strange noises, clicking sounds, almost like a dolphin...could this be echolocation?
We stood frozen, watching and listening...then the head went under the water again, and as it did, it made a splash so big and loud, it was as if a full-grown man had just jumped in.
As soon as it was fully submerged, we seemed to spark awake, frantic about what we had just seen and desperate to see it again. We ran closer to where the mysterious head and roughly 3-5 ft long neck, went underwater...and waited...
Seconds later, the head and neck resurfaced, continued making clicking sounds, and slowly swam along the shoreline.
We followed this creature for 15-20 minutes (or longer) as it continued going under the water, with a huge splash, then resurfacing with clicking sounds and continuing to swim.
At the time, I had a crappy flip phone and tried to take a picture, but it was just black, so instead I called my parents, freaking out and describing each and every moment as we followed it up close and personal, for what seemed like hours. When we got to the very end of the boardwalk, the creature went back under the water, swam under the last of the sailboats, and back out into the depths of Lake Champlain.
This was truly an experience that I will never forget. It has shaped me in ways that I cannot even fully describe. There is a real-ness to the world of myth and legend and it's one that I now spend my life researching, exploring, and sharing with others.
I share this story and many others in my Facebook group Academy of Magic.
If you find a Vermonter, you'll likely find a Champ story as well.
Image by Sandra Mansi in 1977
On 24 July 2023, Scott Thurber caught this image below on Lake Champlain. Champy is alive!!!
Well I do believe we had the one and only legendary Lake Champlain “Champy “ the illusive monster appear on the Garmin this afternoon. He’s been folklore around here for years. There’s been many folks visiting Lake Champlain an searching for him, from all over the country with high tech underwater technology over the years.
Did we find him….?
We had the pleasure of seeing this image appear on our Garmin Eco Map UHD this afternoon while fishing lake trout. You can see lake trout on the bottom of the screen as this Champy image cruises above.
This Captain is very intrigued what cruised under our charter boat this afternoon…
Champ Monster | Daily Planet
The Oldest Sea Monster In The World - Lake Champlain's Champ
LAKE MONSTER IN GEORGIA “It Appears to be a Washed-up Carcass” | The Proof Is Out There https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxjDq7SlYo0
5 MYSTERIOUS SEA MONSTERS UNCOVERED | The Proof is Out There
COMPELLING EVIDENCE of Loch Ness Monster | The UnXplained
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