Was it Montana Nessie?
FINLEY POINT May 18, 2012 — After a prolonged absence of Flathead Nessie sightings, the lake’s elusive monster may be out there after all. That’s what Pam Moriarty, her daughter Laura Barthrop and Justin Lagemann are wondering after the trio viewed a strange object swimming against the current about 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 12.
From the picture windows in Pam cliff top home on the northwest end of Finley Point, they watched for about five minutes as it swam northeasterly away from shore toward the main part of the lake. They were so surprised that Pam briefly forgot her camera was nearby. She rushed to retrieve it and managed to snap a picture, but it was too far away to identify.
Lagemann estimated the object was about 40 or 50 yards off shore when they first noticed it. They watched through binoculars and afterward he sketched how it appeared to him. He thought the critter was at least 25 feet long. The head was not showing as it moved away, but it had a “whale-like tail” and “spiked dorsal fins.”
Lagemann had lived in Florida and had seen many types of unusual aquatic animals – manta rays, alligators, crocodiles and more. He couldn’t tell what this was though.
Flathead Lake from Finley Point State Park
Flathead Lake is on the southern tip of the Rocky Mountain Trench. It is located in northwest Montana and is the largest lake in the western United States, approximately 28 miles (50 km) long and 16 miles (25 km) wide, and 370.7 ft (113.0 m) in depth at its deepest point. It covers 191.5 sq mi (496 km2) and the average depth is 164.7 ft (50.2 m). Two rivers flow into the lake: the Flathead River and the Swan River.
The first documented sighting of the Flathead Lake Monster was in 1889. James C. Kerr skippered the U.S. Grant, a lake steamboat that made its rounds in Lake Flathead. On one trip Kerr and his passengers saw what first appeared to be a log or another approaching boat in the water. After coming closer, they realized an unusually large whale-like object was coming toward them in the lake. Frightened, one of the passengers on the steamer pulled out the rifle that he was carrying. He did not kill the creature, but this sighting started the legend of the Flathead Lake Monster.
Other reputable sightings
There have been many sightings since, most often reported to have occurred between April and September. One of the strangest accounts was that of a researcher who claimed he had sighted the lake monster in 1985 and again two years later. This is very unusual because it is very rare to see it even once in a lifetime.
The average number of sightings is between one and two each year. However, in 1993 alone, there were about thirteen reports. It was clear that weather and lake conditions were not unusual in 1993. However, on May 24, 1993, there was a sighting reported of two monsters together in Big Arm Bay. One was considerably larger than the other and they were thought to possibly be mother and child, or a male and female couple. On July 15, 1993, two sightings occurred, 25 minutes and 15 miles apart. On July 17, 1993, two sightings were made in the same area, but half a day apart.
Moreover, on July 13, 1993, off Woods Bay, a bank officer and a district sales manager from Seattle managed to acquire a few seconds of video footage of the monster. The video shows a large, dark shape about 12 feet long just below the surface. One witness stated that he was able to see the monster before the film started rolling and that it had a sturgeon-like head and an eel-like body.
There have been more sightings of the monster than this, but the year 1993 proved to be a very significant year in hunting the Flathead Lake Monster.
The monster is usually described as a large eel-shaped creature, round with a wavy body like a snake, that spans from twenty to forty feet. It is brownish to blue-black with grayish-black eyes. It has often been described as looking like a whale or a giant sturgeon - one of the oldest families of bony fish in existence, often found in lakes and rivers. One other account described the beast as a giant eel-like creature that was very shiny and had a head shaped like a bowling ball. It has been reported to have many humps coming above the surface of the water when spotted, pointing toward the possibility that it is a creature similar to or the same as the Loch Ness Monster.
Could Flathead Lake support such a large creature?
More than 75 million years ago the state of Montana was covered by a vast inland sea inhabited by various shark species and aquatic reptiles. The Flathead Lake Monster would be a remnant of the ancient interglacial Lake Missoula, from 13,000 to 15,000 years ago. At that time, the lake was more comparable to the size of Lake Michigan and would have supported many more species than it currently supports. But since it would be biologically impossible for just one monster to be living in the lake for so many thousands of years, if something is out there, there would have to be a breeding population. This breeding population, with sustainable genetics, would number at least in the dozens.
Dale Drinnon of Frontiers of Zoology has offered that a sturgeon could well be described as having a row of spiked scutes sticking up along the back and a fishlike tail. Calling it a whale-like tail would be a mistake, but not a mistake that most witnesses would know any better about.
Sources: leaderadvertiser.com/news/article_7d94388a-a101-11e1-ab2e-0019bb2963f4.html, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flathead_Lake_Monster
Could the Flathead Lake Monster be a still unidentified remnant of a giant prehistoric species? Cryptid Chronicles readers, what do YOU think??
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