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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

California's own Loch Ness Monster

Lake Tahoe, home of Tahoe Tessie
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Situated on the California/Nevada border lies Lake Tahoe. At an elevation of 6,225 ft and over 1600 feet deep, it is a major tourist attraction throughout the entire year. What most visitors to the lake don't know is that there are stories of a large serpentine creature estimated to be at least 60 feet in length and "as wide as a barrel". Residents of the area have named the creature Tahoe Tessie (a play off of Nessie from the Loch Ness in Scotland).

Stories of the creature date back to the mid-19th century where members of the Washoe and Paiute tribes claimed that a large creature resided in an underwater tunnel beneath Cave Rock and sightings have continued to this day. Most are from somewhat of a distance where people see a large serpentine body moving in the water. One interesting sighting occured in the winter of 1979 where four witnesses saw a large snake like creature feeding off a school of trout. They estimated it to be between 30 and 60 feet in length and as thick as a telephone pole. It didn't swim like a snake would (side to side), but was diving up and splashing down with it's head into the school of fish. Speechless, they watched the creature for several minutes before it finally disappeared.

Another interesting story is that sometime in the 1970's, famed French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau explored the depths of Lake Tahoe. Whatever he encounted down there must have spooked him as he claimed the world was not ready for what was at the bottom of the lake. Subsequently he refused to release any of his underwater footage or any data he collected. I feel it's worth saying that Lake Tahoe was known to be a dumping ground for bodies by the mob during the 1950's. Given the depth of the lake and the near constant temperature of 39 degrees, it's most likely Cousteau found a large watery graveyard were the bodies were preserved by the near freezing water.

So what lurks just underneath the waters of Laka Tahoe? Theories include a Plesiosaur, Icthyosaur or a Mosasaur, due to fossils of the creatures being found in the surrounding area. But Tessie experts quickly dismissed this as the lake was formed in the last Ice Age, long after the creatures went extinct. Other theories claim that it could be anything from a population of sturgeon to some sort of undiscovered fresh water eel. Whatever it may be, there's something there as witnesses have seen it for over a century now.

1 comment:

R. Moore said...

Jacques Cousteau never visited Lake Tahoe. His son, Phillipe did, but did not dive into it.