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‘People are Seeing Something’, an Investigation into the Lake Monster Phenomenon

In an age when Bigfoot is the most commonly reported type of cryptid sighting, a researcher has opted to investigate an alternative creature that was once the source of fear and awe worldwide.

Engineering technologist Denver Michaels, a 42-year-old Virginia resident, has been investigating the lake monster phenomenon for over 20 years.

“It all started in high school,” he tells Cryptozoology News. “An Unsolved Mysteries episode about the Ogopogo exposed me to the idea that the Loch Ness Monster is only one of many lake monsters. Until then, the Loch Ness Monster was the only lake monster that I was familiar with.”

His book, People are Seeing Something: A Survey of Lake Monsters in the United States and Canada and published last January, shows his dedication to the lake cryptids.

“I believe that sincere and honest people are seeing mysterious creatures in the water and these reports should be taken seriously. In this book I cover in detail a number of lake monsters across the US and Canada. I covered lake monsters in 6 Canadian provinces and 30 states. With each creature, I examine a number of reported sightings. I also look at characteristics of the lakes in which these creatures are said dwell to try and determine if a link can be established,” he explains about the 272-page document.

loch ness monster nessie lake monster

With not so many photographs but including bouts of personally investigated reports, the book opens a dusty file stored in the minds of lake monster researchers that are now a dying breed.

Of all these newly investigated sightings, says Michaels, the most compelling one is the Muck Monster in Florida.

“This is because I think the creature can be explained, and be explained without telling eyewitnesses that they made a mistake and saw an otter or a log.”

So, the culprit, he says, could be a large Burmese Python.

“Pythons have taken root in South Florida and established breeding populations. In People are Seeing Something, I theorized that Florida’s ‘Elusive Muck Monster’ could actually be one of these animals.”

But despite his theory, Michaels, who claims to keep an skeptical point of view while investigating, says he still believes lake monsters are real.

“I do believe they exist, but it is hard at times to separate the wheat from the chaff. There is no denying that reports are real and strange creatures are being observed in the water,” the Virginian explains, adding that these creatures could be some sort of aquatic dinosaur that became trapped in modern-day lakes as the water from ancient inland seas receded.

lake monster

Sea Serpent, by Olaus Magnus. Public domain

Other theories, such as that brought to life by biologist Bruce Wright, are also intriguing Michael’s investigative nature.

“Wright believes that the mysterious, little-known sleeper shark is responsible for many lake monster sightings. . Male sleeper sharks average about 14 and a half feet in length, and sharks measuring up to 23 feet long are not uncommon. The Pacific sleeper shark can weigh as much as four tons. There are documented reports of Greenland sharks, a type of sleeper shark that lives in the waters around Iceland and Greenland, which recently have been found in the St. Lawrence Seaway. According to Wright, this proves that there are sharks that are able to survive in a cold, freshwater environment. They are found in small groups, and being scavengers, they rarely hunt. The deep-water, bottom feeding shark has little interaction with humans, and are rarely seen by people. The rarity of encounters with humans make them mysterious and very hard to observe. Lake Iliamna and Loch Ness are both rich in salmon and other fish, making them prime feeding grounds for sleeper sharks.”

Regardless, says Michaels, many of these sightings can not be explained with Wright’s hypothesis. He explains that he wanted his book to tell the stories of those whose voices should be heard.

“I feel like people should have a voice. Those who see something unexplained aren’t liars, they aren’t stupid, and quite often they know exactly what they saw. They should not be mocked and their reports should not be automatically dismissed as misidentification or hoaxes. I am personally offended at how people who report seeing something unexplained are treated,” he said.

Michaels’ book can be purchased online. If you would like to enter a giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of his book, head over to Cryptozoology News Facebook page for details. 

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