Ogopogo is a legendary lake monster that is said to inhabit Lake Okanagan in British Columbia, Canada. Residents of Vernon, British Columbia called the creature Ogopogo in honor of a 1920s song by the same name. Ogopogo is said to have a horse-like head and a serpent’s body, roughly 20 to 50 feet (6-15 m) long. The creature is reported to be dark blue, brown, or black in color, with fins and a light-colored underside.
Long before European settlers discovered Ogopogo for themselves, Canadian Aboriginals referred to Ogopogo as Naitaka, which means sacred creature of the water, or N'ha-a-itk, which translates to lake demon. According to Aboriginal folklore, Ogopogo is said to live in a cave near Rattlesnake Island. Consequently, the local Aboriginals made offerings to appease the beast whenever they canoed near its lair.
Ogopogo’s first documented sighting was reported in 1872. Its first mass-sighting occurred in 1926 when roughly thirty cars full of people gathered to look at the creature on Okanagan Mission Beach. The incident was later reported in The Vancouver Sun, seven years before the first reported sighting of the Loch Ness Monster.
Like the Loch Ness Monster, Ogopogo also resides in a long and narrow body of water at approximately the same latitude as Loch Ness. Although Ogopogo is often compared in Cryptozoology to its Scottish counterpart, Cryptozoologist and author of Searching for Hidden Animals, Roy P. Mackal, theorizes that Ogopogo is actually a species of primitive whale known as Basilosaurus cetoides. Whereas Nessie is often described as resembling a plesiosaur, Ogopogo is described as “log-like” and only one or two feet (.3 to .6 m) in diameter.
In 1968, a man named Art Folden captured a dark, reptilian object on video which appears to be swimming near the shore of Lake Okanagan. Then in 1989, a snake-like creature was also captured on video, appearing to flick its tail before plunging into the water. Although many theorized the creature on film a beaver due to the characteristic tail flick, the videographers claimed that the animal they saw was approximately 15 feet (4.6 m) long.
Like the Mothman, Jersey Devil and the Chupacabra, Ogopogo is often thought to be a natural animal such as an otter or sturgeon, mistaken for a cryptid. Ogopogo has been embraced as a cultural myth and mascot for British Columbia and Canada as a whole, even appearing on a Canadian postage stamp and being adopted as a mascot by Kelowna's Western Hockey League team, the Kelowna Rockets.