VICTORIA — Brigette Horvath knew she saw something strange in Cameron Lake on Vancouver Island two years ago and a team of researchers say she might be right.
Was it a fish, an eel or some kind of serpent-like creature?
She says she didn’t know. But Horvath grabbed her camera and managed to fire off one shot before the batteries failed.
The researchers who specialize in looking for so-called crypozoological creatures — in other words, monsters — spent Saturday on the lake probing the depths with a sonar-like fish finder.
At first, they picked up a couple of large contacts at the bottom of the lake, about 45 metres deep, then something more pronounced on a second pass.
”Something just went ‘ping’ on the alarm on the fish finder and we saw this absolutely massive object in the midst of various fish,” said John Kirk, president of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club.
They made four more passes and the contact held stable, making it unlikely that it was a school of fish, which tend to scatter eventually, Kirk said.
“We were quite stunned that there was something that big in the lake and it was in about 60 feet of water, less than 30 yards from shore, it was quite amazing,” he said.
Horvath, who lives in Nanaimo, said she was driving along Highway 4 on July 30, 2007, when she saw a strange semi-circle in the lake.
”You could see like a serpent shape,” said Horvath, who isn’t the only person to report something strange in Cameron Lake.
”It wasn’t logs,” she said. ”It wasn’t waves. There were no boats in the area. It was, like, right there. You could actually see a large fish, (an) object, no, not an object, something alive.”
Kirk, who admits his trip to Cameron Lake is being sponsored by the local Oceanside Tourism Association, said the team accidentally lost its underwater camera and was unable to explore further.
Because the weather will deteriorate in the fall and winter, another search will have to wait until next year, Kirk said.
But the team has narrowed the possibilities.
“Maybe it’s a sturgeon, maybe it’s a giant sterile eel….it could be a massive type of salamander,” Kirk said. ”Or it could be something that we’re completely unaware of at this point.”
However, it’s unlikely the small lake is the home of a mysterious sea monster, Kirk said.
“I’m not going to the extent to say there’s anything exotic down there, there’s just something big.”
Kirk has searched for the Ogopogo in Okanagan Lake in the B.C. interior, looked in coastal B.C. for the Sasquatch, tried to find the sea creature Cadborosaurus off Vancouver Island and has hunted for giant salamanders in swamps.
He’s been to Scotland and the republics of Congo and Cameroon in search of strange dinosaur-like beasts.
But it’s British Columbia waters that provide a fertile hunting ground for animal tales, he said.
Kirk said there are 41 different lakes in British Columbia where strange animal sightings have been reported.
“In B.C., we just seem to have a ton of these lakes where these things have been seen,” he said.
Kirk said Cadborosaurus’ range is not confined to the Victoria area. Reports of a similar animal have come from the Gulf of Alaska to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.
In Oregon, the animal goes by the name Colossal Claude.
But Kirk believes British Columbia is in a class by itself for what he calls crytozoological encounters.
People have actually started to embrace the strange animals to the point where they are showing up in tourism brochures, he said.
“Like Moberly Lake up in the (northeast) area, the First Nations there got in touch with me and told me about the creature that they had been seeing with a horse’s head swimming around in the lake, and now they’ve given it a name,” Kirk said.
“They call it Moberly Dick.”